Department Learning Goals

Students who major/minor in Religion:

  • Will engage with and understand classic and contemporary theories of religion and classical and contemporary methods for the study of religion
  • Will be able to use material from their 2000-level courses to assess and analyze theories of and approaches to the study of religion
  • Will be able to understand and analyze religious phenomena and texts in some (minors) or all (majors) of the following areas:
    A. Christianity and gender; B. Asian religions; C. Bible and Comparative studies; D. Islam and Post-Biblical Judaism
  • Will be able to explain how religion is an important human phenomenon that cannot be disentangled from categories such as (but not limited to): politics, gender, race, and society.


Students in 1000-level courses:

  • Will be able to distinguish confessional from academic approaches to the study of religion 
  • Will learn that not only is religion difficult to define, but also that claims of religious definition reveal the stakes of the problem 
  • Will recognize the presuppositions and historical contingencies that shape dominant definitions of religion
  • Will become acquainted with some classic theories of religion (perhaps?)
  • Will study religious texts, phenomena, and practices in order to gain a deeper understanding of the precise contours and claims of various religions
  • Will learn how those texts and practices are historically and socially constructed

Students in 2000-level courses:

  • Study in greater depth a particular text (e.g. the Qur’ān), religious tradition (e.g. Theravada Buddhism), or theme (e.g. Human Sacrifice) to be studied across traditions
  • Learn about methodological and theoretical approaches specific to the course’s topic
  • Read secondary literature, that goes beyond textbooks, on the course’s topic


Students in 3000-level courses:

  • Study a narrow topic in depth that includes understanding significant scholarly debates
  • Write a long paper using primary sources in translation and/or a series of papers that examine certain theories of and approaches to the study of religion
  • Conduct outside research beyond the readings listed on the syllabus