Religious Studies seeks to understand and interpret religions in various historical, cultural, and social contexts. It fosters scholarly skills such as close reading (of texts and other social and material data), excellence in writing and verbal expression, interpretation of the past from written and physical evidence, and interpretation of contemporary society. By exploring the public and private concerns that religions engage—for example, the nature of community and solitude, suffering and death, good and evil—students discover new ways of interpreting the complex world in which they live. As students venture into the religions of Asia, the Middle East, Africa, the Americas, and Europe, they learn about the formation and transmission of beliefs, behaviors, values, rituals, texts, institutions, and forms of community. Students also learn about conflict and accord within and between religions, as well as between religious and non-religious perspectives.
Students in this concentration will:
- Acquire foundational knowledge of several of the world’s religious traditions
- Develop critical abilities in textual exegesis and close reading
- Understand the intellectual, social-theoretical, and ethical issues relating to religious discourse
- Design a course of study in consultation with a faculty member
- Pursue original research
Honors and CapstonesView Honors website
By the end of spring registration in the junior year, concentrators choose whether they wish to complete a capstone course or write an Honors thesis. In the capstone course, which is chosen in consultation with concentration advisor and other faculty, the concentrator addresses the theoretical and interpretive issues of his or her particular focus in the Religious Studies concentration. A Religious Studies concentration with Honors requires, in addition to RELS 1000 and eight other courses, an Honors thesis (RELS 1999, during both semesters of the senior year). To receive Honors, a student must have at least a high B in the concentration and an A on the thesis. Please visit the Religious Studies website for complete information on the eligibility requirements for Honors.
This concentration allows you to address the following Liberal Learning goals:
- Enhance your aesthetic sensibility
- Expand your reading skills
- Collaborate fully
- Understand differences among cultures
- Embrace diversity
- Engage with your community
- Develop a facility with symbolic languages
- Learn what it means to study the past
- Evaluate human behavior
- Work on your speaking and writing
Religious Studies alumni have pursued a range of careers, including in management consulting, law, communications and journalism, instructional design, education, social work, and on university faculties.