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.
All Religious Studies majors must take one of these 100-level courses and prospective majors should take their 100-level course as early as possible. All of our 100-level courses are designed as general education courses for all students and as preparation for more advance courses in the Department. The introductory courses are united by a common set of learning goals that include understanding "insider vs. outsider" perspectives on religious traditions and phenomena, understanding and being able to use key analytical concepts, learning about specific religious traditions in context, and being able to apply course work beyond the classroom.
In the fall of 2013-14, REL 111, "Mapping the Realm of Religion" will focus on the history and development of some of the major religious traditions in the United States. Students will also develop the critical skills to analyze perspectives, issues of representation, and interest as religions as well as "America" are studied as sites of contestation over meaning, identity, and purpose.
In the spring, REL 195.01, "Bodies and Souls: An Introduction to Judaism and Christianity," will examine the diverse ways that Jews and Christians have sought to shape themselves as individuals and as members of communities dedicated to God. Reading primary and secondary sources, 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.
Also in the spring, REL 195.02, "Religion in East Asia," explores fundamental features of the religious cultures of China, Korea, and Japan. Students will see how the "traditional" and the "modern" intersect in contemporary society in each country. While this is an introduction to East Asian religious cultures, it also is a course in critical thinking. Using evidence from Asia, we will be considering ways people have thought about their worlds and acted on those thoughts in the world, as well as the ways other people have thought about those people's ideas and practices.
Completing a 100-level course will enable students to waive the second-year standing prerequisite for most 200-level courses. REL 211, 213, 214, 217, 220, 221, 222, and 225 focus on specific traditions and generally require either a 100-level course or second-year standing. In most years, the department offers one or more 295 (special topics) courses that cover specific aspects of religious traditions and usually are also open to second-year students. REL 216, 223, 240 and 241 are either interdisciplinary courses or focus on a particular theme that cuts across religious traditions. Many non-majors, even students who have not taken one of the 100-level courses, take one or more 200-level courses. Most advanced seminars (e.g. REL 351, 352, and 394) have, as prerequisites, REL 311 and one or more 200-level courses. REL 311 and 394 are advanced seminars that are ordinarily restricted to majors.
The following is a possible four-year plan to complete a major in Religious Studies:
|FIRST YEAR FALL||FIRST YEAR SPRING|
|REL 195||REL 2XX|
|SECOND YEAR FALL||SECOND YEAR SPRING|
|REL 2XX||REL 2XX|
|THIRD YEAR FALL||THIRD YEAR SPRING|
|REL 311||Off-Campus Study|
|FOURTH YEAR FALL||FOURTH YEAR SPRING|
|REL 2XX or 394||REL 326, 351, 352, or 394|