November 26, 2018
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We understand the study of religion as a crucial element in the larger study of culture and history. We consider the study of religion to be inherently interdisciplinary and a necessary component for intercultural literacy and, as such, essential to the liberal arts curriculum. Our goals include helping students to recognize and examine the important role of religion in history and the contemporary world; to explore the wide variety of religious thought and practice, past and present; to develop methods for the academic study of particular religions and religion in comparative perspective; and to develop the necessary skills to contribute to the ongoing discussion of the nature and role of religion.
Since the phenomena that we collectively call "religion" are so varied, it is appropriate that they be studied from a variety of theoretical perspectives and with a variety of methods. The diversity of areas of specialization and approaches to the study of religion among our faculty members ensures the representation of many viewpoints. Our courses investigate the place of religion in various cultures in light of social, political, economic, philosophical, psychological and artistic questions. We encourage religious studies majors to take relevant courses in other departments. The Department of Religious Studies maintains close relationships with interdisciplinary programs such as Asian and Middle East studies, American studies, African diaspora studies, international studies, and women's and gender studies. Our courses require no commitment to a particular faith. However, students of any background, secular or religious, can benefit from the personal questions of meaning and purpose that arise in every area of the subject.
The curriculum mirrors the diversity of the faculty. We offer courses in Judaism, Christianity, religions of the Americas, Islam, Buddhism, South Asian religions and East Asian religions. Religious studies majors are required to take courses in at least four of these areas. In our courses we emphasize work with primary sources, both textual and nontextual. To this end, students are encouraged to study relevant languages and to spend at least part of their junior year abroad in an area of the world relevant to their particular interests.
Our introductory courses (RLST 101, 102 and 103) are designed especially for students new to the study of religion, although they are not prerequisites to other courses. RLST 101 is a regular lecture/discussion class; RLST 102 covers the same material in the format of a seminar limited to first-year students; RLST 103, also a first-year seminar, covers equivalent material with a focus on women and religion. Students who enroll in any one of these and wish to fulfill their humanities requirement with religious studies courses may do so by taking any other course in the department. For this purpose we especially recommend our foundation courses (200-level), which can also serve as first courses in religious studies.
A few upper-level courses do have specific prerequisites, and a few with no specific course prerequisites do require sophomore or junior standing. Please refer to the course descriptions for further information. The 200-, 300- and 400-level courses do not need to be taken in sequence.
Use the major requirements found in the archived course catalog.
Students majoring in religious studies are required to take a total of at least 10 courses equaling five (5) units. The courses should include the following:
I. Required courses for all majors
II. Four foundation or survey courses, one from each from four of the five areas listed below
III. One (0.5 unit) course, 300 or 400 level, in one of the categories chosen from the areas above
IV. Two other elective courses in religious studies
The Senior Capstone in religious studies consists of:
Students with an overall grade point average of 3.33 or better and 3.5 or better in religious studies courses are eligible to submit a proposal for an honors project. Honors candidates select a field of concentration entailing one (1) to one and a half (1.5) units of advanced research and writing under the supervision of one or more faculty members.
The religious studies minor is designed to expose students in a systematic way to the study of religion, while simultaneously giving them some degree of more advanced knowledge in at least one religious tradition. A total of three (3) units are required for the minor in religious studies. The following are the minimum requirements:
Courses taken abroad or as transfer credit may be counted towards major requirements, up to a total of one (1.0) unit. Religious studies majors who wish to use these courses to satisfy requirements for the major must discuss them with their advisor and department chair, before taking courses. (For information on nondepartmental courses that may count towards the religious studies major, consult the department chair.)