Religious Studies

The Religious Studies curriculum approaches the history of human thought and practice while focusing on specific geographical, cultural, and philosophical areas of scholarly interest. The department offers general and comparative courses that engage more than one tradition, concept, or text, as well as survey courses that provide a broad introduction to a particular religious tradition or scripture in historical context.

Courses in Religious Studies explore when, how, and why communities forge systems of value. Faculty guide students to examine institutions, practices, texts, and ideas simultaneously: to see how texts influence institutions, how institutions prescribe habits, and how human beings resist and reiterate the given institutions and practices of their specific geographic and historical contexts.

The Religious Studies department is particularly known for its promotion of scholarly research by undergraduates. Undergraduate majors acquire the linguistic, philosophical, and historical acumen necessary for an in-depth research project during their senior year.

Most courses have no prerequisites and are open to nonmajors. Courses appropriate for freshmen include:

  • RLST 012, Divine Law in Historical Perspective
  • RLST 015, Gods and Heroes in Indian Religions
  • RLST 017, Authenticity
  • RLST 125, Introduction to Buddhist Thought and Practice
  • RLST 145, The Bible
  • RLST 155, The Golden Age of Islam
  • RLST 170, The Religion of Islam
  • RLST 191, Ritual and Salvation in India