The academic study of religion introduces students to the depth and richness of religious thought, texts, ritual, spiritual practice, moral and cultural values, and social institutions found in the major religious traditions of humankind. These phenomena are examined from a wide variety of disciplinary perspectives — historical, literary, philosophical, theological and social scientific. Thus, the study of religion is an important component of a liberal arts education.
Courses are intended to acquaint students with the historical development and contemporary expressions of one or more traditions, as well as the ways in which religious traditions shape and/or reflect cultures past and present, and to develop students' analytical and critical skills. Tutorial reading courses and independent study projects allow students to pursue particular interests with faculty guidance.
The major and minor are designed to serve as focus of a liberal arts education for students with diverse career goals and as a foundation for those planning to continue the study of religion in a professional or graduate program.
Each year the department sponsors a series of colloquia featuring guest lecturers and the scholarly work of its faculty.