The Religion major is designed to serve as a focus of a liberal arts education for the general student and as a pre-professional foundation for those pursuing the study of religion beyond the baccalaureate degree. Some courses in the Religion Department are cross-referenced or cross-listed with other programs of study in the College—e.g., African American Studies, East Asian Studies, Jewish Studies, and Gender and Women’s Studies. While offering a broad focus in the humanities and in the study of religion, the major also affords an opportunity for concentrated study in particular religious traditions and specific areas of religious thought and practice. Students who contemplate graduate study in religion or professional study in seminary or rabbinical school after graduation are advised to consult with the chair or other members of the department as early in their undergraduate careers as possible.
Entry-Level Courses and Sequence Suggestions
The Department of Religion offers nine introductory courses dealing with traditions and topics in the scholarly study of religion. These courses—101, 102, 103, 104, 105, 106, 107, 108, and 109—have the same purpose but draw on different traditions and topics. These courses may best meet the needs of students who seek only one course in Religion, or they may serve as a first course for students who plan further study in the department. They are not, however, prerequisites for course work at the 200 level. The department also offers several “First-Year Seminar Program” (FYSP) courses and “Colloquia for First- and Second-Year Students” as indicated in the course listing. Seminars (taught at the 300 level) require the consent of the instructor, and students taking them will ordinarily have done previous 200-level coursework in subject matter relevant to the topic of the seminar.
The major consists of 27 hours in the department. Under ordinary circumstances, no more than one course from the FYSP or Colloquia for First- and Second-Year Students may be counted in the 27 hours required for the major. Also, no more than one of the nine "Introduction to Religion" (RELG 101, 102, 103, 104, 105, 106, 107, 108, 109) courses may be counted in the 27 hours required for the major.
Students majoring in Religion must complete the following:
1. Take one designated core course at the 200 level in at least four of the ten areas in which coursework is offered. The 10 areas, and courses that fall within each area, are listed below. The "core" courses are those marked with an asterisk (*).
- American Religious History: 282*, 284*, 285
- Christian History: 216*, 217*, 218*
- East Asian Religions: 235*, 236*, 238*
- Ethics: 245*, 246*, 247, 248*, 249
- Gender and Religion: 261*, 262*, 263*
- Islam: 270*, 271, 272*, 274
- Jewish and Christian Scriptures: 205*, 208*
- Judaism: 250*, 251*, 252, 255, 258
- Modern Religious Thought: 225*, 226*, 227*, 228
- South Asian Religions: 231*, 232, 233*
2. Take at least one additional course at the 200 level in one of the four areas in which they have taken a "core" course, thus forming a small concentration. The second 200-level course need not be a "core" course.
3. Take one seminar at the 300 level. Majors are encouraged to take the seminar within the area of their concentration.
Students planning graduate or professional study in Religion or simply seeking an enhanced and more comprehensive major are encouraged to consider the following additions to their course of study beyond the basic 27 hours required for the major:
1. RELG 299 Research Methods and the Academic Study of Religion;
2. RELG 399 Capstone Project and/or RELG 401 Senior Honors; and
3. at least one year of foreign or classical language study at the college level.
a. RELG 299 Research Methods and the Academic Study of Religion;
b. RELG 399 Capstone Project and/or RELG 401 Senior Honors; and
c. at least one year of foreign or classical language study at the college level.
Minor. Majors in other departments or programs may minor in Religion by taking at least 5 courses totaling 15 hours. One of these courses must be an upper-level seminar.
Capstone Project and Honors .
A religion major has the opportunity for an extensive research and writing experience in one of two modes: a capstone project or an honors project. These projects allow the student either to synthesize his or her religion studies across traditions or disciplines or to pursue more in-depth scholarship in a particular field or subject matter. Credit hours for a capstone or honors project should be over and above the basic 27 hours required for the major.
I. Capstone project. The capstone project is a one-credit independent research and writing project undertaken with permission of the instructor in conjunction with most 300-level and some 200-level courses. A single capstone project is open to any junior or senior religion major. The project involves completing a research paper (approximately 25 pages) on a topic approved by the instructor. The capstone project may be completed either within the existing course or in the semester following the course. However, second semester seniors must complete the capstone within the existing course. It will appear on the transcript under the designation of "Capstone Project."
II. Honors. Honors work is done in the student's senior year and culminates in a written honors thesis and oral defense. There are two modes possible for undertaking an honors project. For further guidelines, see "Important Dates for Capstone and Honors Projects, 2006-2007" and "Guidelines for Honors Projects" below.
(a) As an extension of a capstone project. Religion majors who successfully complete a capstone project in either their junior year or the fall semester of their senior year may submit an application to the department for further research on that topic. If accepted, the student will enroll for a three-credit honors project to revise and refine the capstone project into an honors thesis of approximately 40 to 55 pages in length. Students are encouraged to work within their area of concentration for the major. In most cases the original instructor will serve as the thesis director, and two additional readers will be part of the honors committee. By April 15th, the student will submit the honors thesis to the department and defend the thesis in an oral exam conducted by the committee.
(b) As a two-semester independent project. This mode of undertaking an honors project is open to qualified senior religion majors whose research interests do not fit into the topical scope of the existing course offerings, but who nonetheless wish to work closely with a religion faculty member while pursuing an independent project of scholarship. The student enrolls for three credit hours in both semesters of the senior year, and the project culminates in a written thesis of approximately 40 to 55 pages. The same evaluation procedure described under (a) will be used. A student who wishes to pursue this mode of honors must submit an application and prospectus for the proposed research project to the department by April 15th of his or her junior year for a project undertaken in the course of the senior year.