Who We Are

Welcome to the website of the University of Virginia's Department of Religious Studies, the largest stand-alone religion department in the United States. Since its founding in 1967, the Department of Religious Studies has played a leading role in the national and international study of religion. Rooted in the humanities and liberal arts, our faculty offer a comprehensive curriculum that spans traditions, geographies, and methodologies, including historical, philosophical, philological, ethnographic, and literary approaches.

Collectively, we aim to advance a conversation that considers, in a nuanced and open-minded way, the complex reality of religion and religions. The range of topics that are researched and taught explore the rich diversity of religious life. Tibetan Buddhism, Judaism and Christianity in the past and present, the religions of South and East Asia, classical and contemporary Islam, the religions of Africa and the African Diaspora–all constitute key areas of inquiry and research, both in themselves and for comparative study.

The Department vigorously engages the lived reality of religious life. Recognizing the significance of religious commitments, we endeavor to help students think in critical, thoughtful, imaginative, and responsible ways about their own religious commitments and those of others. Our dedication to the principal of free academic inquiry, carried out in a public institution, is therefore complemented by a concern to improve the quality of public discourse about religion in the present.