Majoring in Religious Studies
As a religious studies major, you engage in a rigorous course of study centered on your interests across religious traditions, sects and practices. You will study religion from historical, social, cultural and applied perspectives (e.g. religion and public life, Islam in the U.S., and religion and popular culture); explore major religious traditions including Buddhism, Christianity, Confucianism, Daoism, Hinduism, Islam and Judaism; and delve into newer religious movements, such as Mormonism, Rastafarianism and Scientology. Through this interdisciplinary study, you gain the ability to analyze religion and religious phenomena through the key human conditions of race, gender, sexuality and class.
Student and faculty engagement
You have abundant opportunities to work closely with faculty in Religious Studies. Our students have traveled with faculty to Bangladesh, Israel and Jordan, as well as to national conferences. Many religious studies students undertake independent studies with our faculty, exploring topics such as religion and contemporary media, indigenous responses to Christian missions, religion and popular culture, and memory and trauma. Advanced students in the major serve as teaching interns in courses such as “Introduction to Religion,” “Cults and Conversion” and “Religion and Public Life.” Additionally, the Religious Studies Student Advisory Board plans public events throughout the year on topics such as Jerusalem now and then, global expressions of Islam, and religion and food.
Religion in the world
The study of religion moves fluidly between the classroom and the world at large. You can pursue the study of religion in conjunction with international relations, economics, the arts, law and politics. Our department regularly partners with the College’s interdisciplinary centers, including the Toor Cummings Center for International Studies and the Liberal Arts, the Holleran Center for Community Action and Public Policy and the Center for the Comparative Study of Race and Ethnicity (CCSRE).
What can you do with a majorcertificate in Religious Studies?
Here are some of the positions our graduates have gone on to hold:
Q: What led you to religious studies?
A: I stumbled upon it freshman year when I took "Religion and the Spirit of Politics." It was one of my most challenging, engaging courses. I’ve been able to study a wide range of subject matter, from Dante's Inferno to the Sunni awakening. My professors have a genuine interest in my success, and I've enjoyed their mentorship both inside and outside the classroom.
Q: What type of independent research have you done?
A: Another student and I pursued an independent study with Professor Kim. We examined the ways in which trauma destroys and stimulates world views. I concluded the project with a paper, "On Hearing Trauma" and submitted it to the Elie Wiesel Prize in Ethics Essay Contest. I am a finalist.
Q: What role has CELS, the College's career and internship program, played for you?
A: My CELS counselor helped me identify internship options, edit cover letters and conduct a mock interview. I interned with the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America and had a terrific summer in New York City.
- Holy Books: The Western Scriptural Tradition
- Religion and the Spirit of Politics
- Cults and Conversions in Modern America
- Religion and Public Life
- Lived Religion: Religious Stories and Practices in Everyday Life
- Jewish Ethics