Religious Studies (BA)

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Program Description

The Department of Religious Studies explores religious practice as an important aspect of social life in three ways. First, students study the theories and methods through which religion is analyzed today, including psychological, sociological, anthropological, philosophical, historical, legal, and literary approaches. They also approach the study of “religion” as a concept, which has itself been an intellectual object of inquiry and has played a key role in the development of the social and human sciences. Second, students learn empirically about religion in different times and places, either through historical or ethnographic study, using textual, visual, and audio sources. Third, students use religions, approached as lived practices, as a lens for examining other realms in social life, such as gender and sexuality, race, the nation-state, violence, memory, ethics, emotions, politics, economy, power, art, literature, and media. These realms, in turn, have an impact on religions. The Department of Religious Studies is closely affiliated with the Center for Religion and Media. It should be stressed that the department is oriented toward the academic analysis of religious phenomena and does not promote or endorse either religious belief itself or the views and practices of any particular religious tradition.

Honors Program

Eligibility: Students must spend at least two full years in residence at the College of Arts and Science, completing at least 64 credits of graded work in the College. They must maintain a GPA of 3.65, both overall and in the religious studies major.

Requirements: Honors students must complete an additional two courses (8 credits) above the requirements for the religious studies major (thus taking a total of ten courses/40 credits). They register for two semesters of Independent Study (RELST-UA 997 Independent Study, RELST-UA 998 Independent Study) to conduct the research and writing of the thesis under the supervision of a departmental faculty member. The subject of the honors paper and the faculty supervisor are chosen in consultation with the director of undergraduate studies. The average length of the honors paper is approximately 30 double-spaced, typed pages.


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