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Learning Goals and Outcomes

Learning Goals

  1. Majors will gain the skills to interpret, describe, and compare religious phenomena within diverse historical, social, and cultural contexts.
  2. Majors will engage in interdisciplinary scholarship as they explore religious worlds, their elements, and forms, including: beliefs, rituals, symbols, institutions, oral/textual narratives, ethical systems, communities, practices, and objects of material culture.
  3. Majors will be able to interpret and analyze the intersections of religion and other dimensions of culture (e.g., science, politics, ethics, race, gender, class, art/architecture, and popular culture).
  4. Majors will become well versed in the historical formation of the category of religion and major debates over the definition of religion, while developing the tools to criticize a variety of theoretical approaches to Religious Studies.
  5. Majors will become practiced in critical thinking, making and supporting effective arguments (both orally and in writing), interpreting social theory in relationship to the study of religion, conducting research, evaluating primary resources, and organizing projects.
  6. Majors will have opportunities to work both independently and collaboratively in the course of earning their degree.

Outcomes and Assessments

Students will have met and satisfied the learning goals of the Department of Religious Studies when they have completed the requirements of the major.

  1. Majors complete one introductory course introducing students more broadly to religion in cross-cultural perspective. Religion 170, "Introduction to Religion" and Religion 171, "Varieties of Religious Tradition" both meet this requirement.
  2. Majors complete a total of 12 courses in the major, in which at least five courses taken must be at the 300 or 400 levels. This exposes students to diverse faculty in our department who may approach the study of religion historically, sociologically, anthropologically, philosophically, ethically, theologically, textually, through cultural studies perspectives, and through various interdisciplinary combinations.
  3. Majors complete Religion 395, "Theories of Religion," an advanced seminar on the historical development of the field and its major theoretical debates. In this seminar, students are asked to make oral presentations in seminar, to work independently on a final theoretical paper, and to work collaboratively with other students in an "activating theory" component of the course. Take a look at the series of podcasts from Religious Studies scholars on various theoretical issues at