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Religion (RE)
Bachelor of Arts
J. Lawrence Brasher, Amy C. Cottrill, Mark R. McClish
Religion is a fundamental part of the human experience and an
inextricable dimension of thought, belief, ethics, politics, society, culture,
and the arts. The discipline of Religious Studies asks how different cultures
have put together the worlds in which they live. Areas of inquiry include
the history of local and global religious traditions, spiritual dimensions
of human experience, religious dimensions of culture, and the place of
religion in society. Ultimately, the study of religion helps students to
understand the complex processes by which individuals and groups create
meaning for themselves and imbue those meanings with power.
Religious Studies is inherently intercultural and interdisciplinary, and
creativity and connection are encouraged. The Department of Religion
offers courses on topics such as ecological spirituality, the cultural context
of the Hebrew Bible, Buddhist meditation, the history of Christian thought,
religion and gender, religion and film, and religion and politics. The
department also offers opportunities to study Hebrew and Sanskrit and
organizes exploration term study-travel projects to England, India, and the
forests of northern Alabama. All of these offerings share a common focus
on inquiring into the religious worlds that humans create.
Religion students are frequently motivated by concerns about social
justice, curiosity about both familiar and unfamiliar cultures, an interest
in religious experience and practice, and a general desire to understand
people more fully. Because the academic study of religion teaches such
valuable and transferrable skills as critical and creative thinking, effective
and purposeful communication, and rigorous research, religion majors
and minors are prepared upon graduation to pursue a variety of vocations:
graduate work in religious studies or theology, social work, public health,
law, medicine, business, and more.
Upon completion of the religion major, students will be able to
demonstrate a significant familiarity with at least one religious
tradition, recognize its diverse manifestations in particular
cultural contexts, and engage in informed discussion of its
history and practices,
interpret “textual religion” and apply the methodologies
linguistic, literary, sociological, historical, rhetorical, or
ideological) that relate to the critical interpretation of sacred
texts and religious writings,
integrate the study of religion into other disciplinary studies,
conduct original scholarly research in the academic study of
present scholarly research to a public audience.