Religion addresses the experiences, narratives, and imagination of individuals and groups as they strive to articulate meaningful lives. As an academic study, Religious Studies focuses both on institutional formations associated with traditions and world religions as well as social, cultural, and political developments that evoke ultimate commitments from participants.
Coursework in the discipline serves to provide students with an understanding of key approaches, concepts, and practices in the study of religion. Such study helps students acquire the skills needed for reflection upon the human quest for transformation and meaning.
A major in Religious Studies provides the context for historical and conceptual engagement with some of the most profound ideas, thinkers, and questions that challenge humanity. It also serves as the first stage for those interested in graduate work or a professional career in Religious Studies. Majors in Religious Studies have followed diverse national and international careers such as business, law, journalism, non-profit organizations, and public service.
A major in Religious Studies consists of eight courses, including one of the 100-level introductory courses. Students majoring in Religious Studies, in consultation with a department adviser, will design a program of courses in accord with their own educational aims, and with the departmental requirements outlined below.
The program of courses for each major will include at least one, but not more than two, introductory courses. A student majoring in Religious Studies will take at least one course from each of the three curricular areas, i.e., "Western" Religious Traditions, "Non-Western" Religious Traditions, and Religion, Culture, and Theory. Finally a major will take RELI 330: Theories of Religion, a second 300-level course, and RELI 400: Senior Seminar Culminating Experience. Requests for exemption from one or more of these requirements will be considered by the department chair, upon petition by the student major.
Religious Studies majors are encouraged to pursue off campus study either abroad or in approved domestic programs in order to broaden their understanding of religious pluralism both globally and in the United States. No more than two Religious Studies courses earned off campus may be used to meet the major requirements. Transfer students may appeal this restriction by writing to the chair of the department.
The Religious Studies department encourages majors to consider honors candidacy by completing an honors thesis in their final academic year. Students wishing to undertake an honors thesis should consult with their adviser in the fall semester of their junior year and declare their intentions and their thesis topic in the spring semester of their junior year.
The minor in Religious Studies consists of any four courses, at least one (but not more than two) of which must be an introductory course, i.e., RELI 100, RELI 105, RELI 110, RELI 115, RELI 125, or RELI 180. Students considering a minor are invited to discuss their interests with a department faculty member.
In addition to the above described minor in religious studies, students may elect an interdisciplinary minor in Jewish studies.
The minor in Jewish studies consists of five courses, comprising primarily "Core" courses or "Topics" courses in Jewish Studies, with not more than one "Secondary" course. For a complete list of approved courses, please see the Course Catalog.
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