The Religious Studies major consists of 10 courses (this includes three I.S. credits). Courses in the department are divided into two areas. Area I focuses on the world’s religious traditions and histories. Area II deals with religion in cultural context, and with theories in the study of religions. Taking a minimum of 3 courses in each area helps students to accommodate the breadth and interdisciplinary nature of the field, and also to accommodate the students' diverse interests and goals. The flexibility of the major also helps students who are double majors (as are many Religious Studies majors) facilitate the successful completion of two majors.
Five Things Worth Knowing About Being a Religious Studies Major
by Mark Graham, RELS Chair
- We study religions...and many other things. We study the many ways of being religious and the many ways that religions are present in our lives. Our courses and IS projects address religions all over the world and throughout human history. Students investigate religion in relation to science and environmental issues, national and global politics, peace and violence, gender and sexuality, the arts and popular culture. Our double majors connect religion with Anthropology, Art History, Communication, English, Molecular Biology, Philosophy, Political Science, Psychology, and Sociology.
- You can be religious and be in Religious Studies. As you might expect, many Religious Studies majors are themselves part of religious communities, with an interest in understanding the nature of their own and other religious commitments more deeply. Religious Studies provides ways for religious persons studying from an academic perspective to broaden and enrich "insider" perspectives.
- You don't have to be religious to be in Religious Studies. As you might not expect, many Religious Studies majors are not part of religious communities, but come to Religious Studies with an interest in understanding the ways that religions are part of history and culture. Religious Studies provides ways for religious "outsiders" to understand the many forms of religious life to which people commit themselves.
- Religious Studies graduates pursue religious vocations---and many other things. Religious Studies graduates are all over the world, employed or in graduate school, as teachers, lawyers, counselors or social workers, international aid and development specialists, in organic farming, human rights, or other politically engaged NGOs, business, and the medical fields. And, of course, many are in seminary or are clergy.
- Studying religions can make you a more interesting person! I was going to write, "and better looking, too" but that's probably going too far. Nevertheless, the study of religions requires engagement with aspects of life ranging from public and global concerns to the deepest, most private individual devotions. It challenges you to understand both different persons and traditions and your place in the world. As you develop skills for understanding so many different kinds of people and aspects of life, you will become a more interesting person---which may make you more attractive to others!