Essential Part of Humanistic Studies
Religion is an essential part of the humanistic studies in a liberal arts education. The study of religion is one way to establish a view of reality, and more specifically a view of the meaning of human existence as individuals and as social beings in relation to ultimate reality, however that reality is understood. Historically, human beings have articulated our greatest moral ambitions and our most sublime understandings of what may be possible for us to achieve—in relation to one another and to the rest of the cosmos—within the myths, hymns, rituals, and institutions of varied religious traditions.
The goals of the department are to help students:
- Understand the nature of religion
- Understand both Abrahimic and Asian religious traditions
- Develop critical and analytical skills for examining the various religious systems offered in a pluralistic society
- Examine their own religious perceptions
Many religion majors and minors conduct year-long senior research projects, the majority of which are converted into theses for recognition.
The academic study of religion is a multidisciplinary exploration of the many ways in which religion functions in the lives of individuals, American society, and the global community. It critically examines the role of religion as an active force that has social, ethical, and ideological consequences. Students learn to assess how religion has shaped their cultures, their family lives, their suppositions of what matters and what is ethical, and their sense of who they are. Students thus gain the analytical, relational, and expressive skills essential to a liberal arts education.
One need not be religious to study religion. The academic study is a lens through which the persistence of religion in the social sphere becomes evident and the personal sphere is enriched. This academic exercise confirms and contests the prevailing sense of reality. What is considered normal in our society is subject to critical review. In the process it enhances skill-sets with transfer value in the vocational sphere as well as deepened awareness of what defines us as individuals and nations. Critical consciousness on moral issues, global relationships, and the existence of community is a result of this academic exercise. Therefore, the questions raised may be more important than the answers constructed. Students who study religion learn how to ask these critical questions.