Religion is a force in literature, art, music, politics, ethics, societal development, and economics. Through the centuries, religion has inspired progress in the battle for human rights, social justice, tolerance, and peace as well as genocide and war. An understanding of the role of religion world-wide is critical to a liberal arts education and a responsible citizenry.
To major in religion (i.e. religious studies) means to pursue the academic study of religion from a variety of theoretical and methodological perspectives, including:
Because religion is deeply implicated in history, culture, politics, and literature, the study of religion is critical to understanding and explaining complex global issues in both the past and the present.
One does not have to be “religious” or “spiritual” to study religion, nor is the study of religion directed toward establishing the truth of one religion over another. Since religious studies is an interdisciplinary field of study, students may use the major in religion in many different ways, including preparation for graduate school, as a major or second major in a program of study leading to a career in business, health care, or teaching, as well as for personal enrichment.
In addition to a number of professional options, the basic intellectual purpose of religious studies is to develop an appreciation for, an understanding of, and a critical insight into, the rich variety of the world’s religious and spiritual traditions in the complex global realities of the twenty-first century.