For students who want an introduction to the field or who are considering a major in Religious Studies, we recommend taking one of the department’s 100-level “Studying Religion” courses. For students considering a major, we also recommend taking at least two 200-level courses by the end of the their second year.

Religious Studies helps students develop tools to understand the complex ways that people across history and around the world oppose oppression, justify violence, understand their bodies, and give meaning to their lives. Our curriculum is among the most international on campus and many majors study abroad, bringing their experiences to capstone seminars and mentored research projects.

For students who want an introduction to the field or who are considering a major in Religious Studies, we recommend taking one our 100-level “Studying Religion” courses. All Religious Studies majors are required to take one of these courses and should do so as early as possible. Many non-majors take one or more of these 100-level courses. The courses are united by a common set of learning goals that include learning about specific religious traditions in context, understanding “insider vs. outsider” perspectives on religious phenomena, and being able to apply analytical concepts central to the field.

In the fall of 2017-18, we will offer two introductory courses. REL 104, “Studying Religion: India,” focuses on Hindu-Muslim relations in India and America. From Gandhi’s religious politics, Muslim healers and Tibetan Buddhist monks to U.S. immigration policy, Yoga and activist Goddesses, the class examines the power and problematics of Indian religions as vital to understanding our contemporary, interconnected world.  Students will encounter these religious traditions using theoretical tools from religious and postcolonial studies, anthropology, political science, sociology and the arts.  REL 105. “Studying Religion: East Asia,” explores the dynamic cultural landscape of East Asia, providing an overview of religion as it has been constructed in the states that are today known as China, Japan and Korea. Moving beyond the paradigms defined as the singular traditions of Confucianism, Daoism, Shintoism and Buddhism, the course delves into shamanistic and folk traditions, as well as practices that cut are across traditions, in order to provide students with tools to resist simplistic understandings of religious identity.

In the spring of 2017-18, the Department will offer REL 101, “Studying Religion: Judaism and Christianity.” This course examines the diverse ways that Jews and Christians have sought to shape themselves as individuals and as members of communities dedicated to God.  Students will explore the practices, texts, and ideas that constitute these religious traditions, consider how Jews and Christians ground their religious lives in revelation, reason, ritual, and imagination, and engage contemporary scholarship on these traditions. We also will offer another section of REL 105, “Studying Religion: East Asia.” 

Completing a 100-level course will enable first-year students to waive the second-year standing prerequisite for most 200-level courses. Many non-majors, even students who have not taken one of the 100-level courses, take one or more 200-level courses in the department.  REL 311 is a course focused on theory and method in Religious Studies and is required of all majors, preferably in the fall of their third year. Our advanced seminars (REL 351 and above) normally require 311 as a prerequisite. 

The following is a possible four-year plan to complete a major in Religious Studies:

REL 101,102,103,104 or 195   REL 2XX
REL 311   Off-Campus Study
REL 2XX or 394   REL 326, 351, 352, or 394