The major and minor programs in religion invite students to consider the nature and definition of religion; to assess and apply critical theories and methods; and to practice comparative, constructive, and empathetic analysis of texts, rituals, and communities.
The religion major prepares students for the graduate study of religion leading to careers in college teaching and research, as well as the ministry. Because of its flexibility, the religion major is suitable as a second major. Both the major and the minor effectively complement majors in history, sociology, English, or philosophy.
Required classes are grouped in four categories:
- Textual Studies : Courses that examine religious texts from historical-critical perspectives in order to help students gain knowledge of the historical circumstances of particular religious texts, apply analytical and evaluative reading skills to them, and understand the major academic interpretive paradigms for their study.
- History of Religions : Courses that focus on the describable elements of religious traditions, particularly within their social, cultural and historical contexts, with the goal of discerning the categories of religious phenomena and the values embedded in them by the participants. Through these courses, students may begin to understand the complexity of individual religious traditions and the religious communities supporting them, as well as the comparability of religions across cultures.
- Critical-Constructive Studies : Courses that deal with issues in religious thought from both a critical and a constructive standpoint in order to help the student gain knowledge of the fundamental issues in religious thought (ethical, philosophical, and theoretical), understand competing approaches to the study of these issues, and evaluate and analyze these the issues from varying perspectives.
- Methodological Studies : Courses that examine theories regarding the nature, meaning, and function of religion as well as a variety of critical methods for its study. Themes for study may include theories of the sacred; the relationship between religion and society; and the tension between explanatory and descriptive modes of study.
Major Sequence: A minimum of nine course units in religion to include:
- one course unit from 130, 323, 325, 334, 335
- one course unit from 104, 132, 204, 231, 304, 330, 331, 332, 333, 342
- one course unit from 106, 241, 242, 324, 341
- one course unit from 290, 291, 292, 294 (expected completion by junior year)
- four additional course units chosen in consultation with an advisor
- senior project (one course unit): 490
Every religion major is required to complete a supervised research project during their senior year under the supervision of a faculty member in Religion. Topics are determined by the student in consultation with his/her advisor. In addition to focused research into a selected topic, projects include a component on methodologies in the study of religion, with instruction from members of the department faculty. All projects culminate in the creation of a final research essay.
- No more than two of the nine course units may be taken at the 100 level; at least four must be at the 300 level or above.
- Optional tenth course: 491 (does not count toward major)
Minor Sequence: Six course units as follows:
- two course units from two of the following categories:
- 130, 323, 325, 334, 335
- 104, 132, 204, 231, 304, 330, 331, 332, 333, 342
- 106, 241, 242, 324, 341
- one course unit from 290, 291, 292, 294
- three additional course units
- At least two of the six course units must be taken at the 300 level or above.
- No more than two 100-level courses can be counted toward the minor.