The Department of Religious Studies explores religious practice as an important aspect of social life in three ways. Students study the theories and methods by which religion is analyzed today, including psychological, sociological, anthropological, hermeneutic, philosophical, historical, legal and literary work. They also approach the study of "religion" as a concept, which has itself been an intellectual object of inquiry, and has played a key role in the development of the social and human sciences. Second, students learn empirically about religion in different times and places either through historical or ethnographic study, using textual, visual and audio sources. Third, approached as lived practices, religions present us with a valuable lens through which many realms in social life can be examined: gender and sexuality, race, the nation-state, violence, memory, ethics, emotions, politics, economy, power, art, literature and media. These realms, in turn, impact upon religions. It should be stressed that the department is oriented towards the academic study of religious phenomena and does not promote or endorse either religious belief itself or the views of any particular religious tradition. The department makes use of resources from several areas of study in the College. Courses may be taught by scholars of Anthropology, Classics, English, Fine Arts, French, Hebrew and Judaic Studies, History, Medieval and Renaissance Studies, Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies, Music, Performance Studies, Spanish and Portuguese Languages and Literature, and other academic disciplines.
The Master's Degree in Religious Studies
The Master's in Religious Studies is perfect for students looking for a "bridge" M.A. program to doctoral studies; current and prospective teachers; and students preparing for professional careers in law, social work, journalism, counseling, medicine, civil service, and politics.
The Religious Studies Department is closely affiliated with the Center for Religion and Media.