2018 - 2019
Departmental Guidelines and Goals
The academic study of religion is a multi-disciplinary 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.
A Religion major requires nine courses. It has the following components:
- a set of five courses (REL 201 - The Reality of God, REL 204 - Religious Pluralism and American Identity, REL 211 - Introduction to the Bible, REL 215 - Hinduism, REL 224 - Christian Social Ethics) from which four are required;
- a concentration of at least three courses in designated areas, designed in consultation with the student's Religion Department advisor;
- a seminar for majors and minors only, designed around special topics that will be in a concentration area;
- a comprehensive examination with take-home and in-class components.
Ordinarily, no more than one course at the 100-level may count. If a student has completed the common courses and fulfilled a concentration, one semester of a Senior Research Project may count toward the nine-course requirement.
A Religion minor consists of:
- a common set of five courses (REL 201 - The Reality of God, REL 204 - Religious Pluralism and American Identity, REL 211 - Introduction to the Bible, REL 215 - Hinduism, REL 224 - Christian Social Ethics) from which four are required;
- an elective course;
- a seminar for majors and minors only, designed around special topics; and
- an abbreviated comprehensive examination.
Additional Points of Interest
Off Campus Study
Denison University works to make study abroad and other off-campus study possible for all students, typically during their junior year. Most students who major in Religion transfer one or two courses for the concentration within the Religion major, satisfy a GE requirement or two, and gain general credits towards graduation. Quite a few do independent research or internships as part of their study abroad experience. We encourage students to visit the Off-Campus Study office to explore options, and to meet with a faculty advisor in the Religion Department to discuss how study abroad can best be integrated into the student's major.