Students have the option of selecting one of the following concentrations:
- African and African Diaspora Religions
- Religion, Ethics, and Philosophy
- Religion, Literature, and the Arts
- Religion, Politics, and Global Perspectives
- Religions of the Americas
Concentrating in a Religious Tradition
The Religious Studies Department offers majors the opportunity to concentrate in one of the world’s religious traditions. Currently, students can concentrate in Buddhism (RELB), Christianity (RELC), Hinduism (RELH), Islam (RELI), or Judaism (RELJ). Concentrating in a religious tradition enables you to study that tradition in depth, across multiple geographies, and in a wide range of its diverse articulations, including its theologies, scholarly and popular literatures, material cultures, rituals, politics and lived practices. Courses offered in a tradition may focus on the classical or medieval foundations of the tradition, or explore its modern or contemporary forms, while sometimes covering multiple historical periods.
African and African Diaspora Religions
The African and African Diaspora Religions concentration offers students an opportunity to study a wide array of religions in Africa and its diaspora including African indigenous religions, African Christian and Islamic traditions and cultures, Afro-creole religions such as Santeria and Candomblé, and African American religious traditions and movements. This concentration is inherently interdisciplinary, drawing on ethnographic, historical, philosophical, literary and artistic approaches and methods, to name a few. Courses in this concentration explore the dynamic interrelationships among diverse religious communities across the African continent and the diaspora in the past and present, and consider the impact and relevance of African and diasporic religious imaginations, practices, and ways of knowing for the wider world.
Religion, Ethics, and Philosophy
The track in Religion, Ethics, and Philosophy provides students with the opportunity to explore profound and meaningful questions that great thinkers and communities have pondered for millennia, and which still remain relevant today. How should we live? What can we really know? Can religious (or secular) beliefs be rationally justified? What role should religion play in society? How might religious, ethical, and philosophical thinking be applied to urgent present-day issues such as climate change, racial and social justice, healthcare and bioethics, global conflict and religious violence? And who am I, amidst this all? Students will critically explore such fundamental questions using tools from a wide array of fields, including anthropology, history, literature, philosophy, and politics, and with the flexibility to tailor their course of study to their own interests.
Religion, Literature, and the Arts
The Religion, Literature, and the Arts concentration provides students with the opportunity to study religious traditions and questions through explorations of a wide range of forms of expression and imagination. Religious traditions are filled with literary texts—poetry, stories, myths, legends, dramas—and other artistic forms—images, paintings, music, songs, sacred objects; likewise, many literary and artistic works explore and express religious questions, themes, and concerns. Attention to both how and what these works engage, their form and their content, their style and their substance, their creation and their reception, their cultural settings and their artistic particularities, contributes to the study of religion. Students in this concentration take up questions of aesthetics, poetics, hermeneutics, and ethics as they explore texts, objects, and creations from diverse religious traditions and cultures.
Religion, Politics, and Global Perspectives
In the “Religion, Politics, and Global Perspectives” concentration students engage the pressing questions of our time through grappling with the perspectives of diverse religious and ethical communities across the globe. Going beneath and beyond the headlines, classes in this concentration look at what kinds of theological and communal understandings underlie world-changing events, political commitments, and global flows of culture and ideas. Recognizing that religion is as unbounded as it is inescapable in world affairs, these classes will engage religious formations transnationally and transculturally, with course materials sitting at the intersection of religion, history, critical theory, anthropology/cultural studies, and political thought.
Religions of the Americas
The Religions of the Americas concentration focuses on the diversity of religious traditions, practices, and beliefs across the Americas from the 15th century to the present. This area of study employs interdisciplinary methods, including history, ethnography, cultural studies, and ethical and theological reflection, and covers the wide range of religions in the post-Columbian Americas, including Catholic and Protestant Christianity, Afro-Creole religions, Mormonism, Judaism, Buddhism, and more. Courses in this concentration highlight the social, cultural, and political entanglements of religion in various contexts and moments, including especially attention to religion and race, migration, law, empire, the state, popular culture, gender, and sexuality.