Brief Description of Concentration
The concentration in the Comparative Study of Religion invites students to explore the most consequential and momentous questions relevant to the understanding of individual and communal human life. Concentrators consider topics such as the significance of ritual and practice; differing conceptions of human nature and the nature of the divine; and comparative study of how people understand the meaning of life, suffering, and death. Our program is unique in allowing students to take up these and other “big” questions in rigorous and critical ways.
The Study of Religion as an interdisciplinary, academic field draws upon both social scientific and humanistic methods to interpret religious phenomena worldwide. The program stresses the acquisition of skills: (1) the arts of reading and interpreting texts, practices, and societies; (2) clear writing (essays are a substantial part of the requirements of the sophomore and junior tutorials), and (3) knowledge of the fundamental literature on theories of religion, and on various methods of study. Competency in religious studies indicates the ability to think critically and with historical and cultural learning about the complicated place of religious history, imagination, motivation, and memory in national and international affairs. Such skills have become one marker of an educated person, who is appropriately prepared for the responsibilities and pleasures of democratic citizenship and leadership.