Philosophy and Religious Studies
Religious Studies Major and Minor
The study of religious rituals, practices, and systems of thought. Religious Studies helps us see the continually evolving relationship of individuals and communities within those traditions as well as the role of religion in a complex global context.
Religious Studies At a Glance
Average students per regular course
Student-faculty ratio for Senior Comp mentorship
Religious Studies at Allegheny is distinctive in emphasizing understanding of:
The history and nature of religious communities, ritual, and written forms of expression
The study of a variety of religious traditions and forms of religious expression
Texts, contexts, and traditions, with an independent capstone project
Courses in Religious Studies primarily focus on four religious traditions. Courses are divided into three approaches: the sources and texts, history and context, and the nature and relevance of religion embodied in these traditions.
Introductory and 200-level courses are appropriate picks for entering students and others new to the academic study of religion. Courses need not be taken in strict order. Twelve introductory courses are entry points for the study of religious traditions.
The study of religion intersects with many fields, using various methodologies and approaches while providing additional meaning to symbols, practices, and rhetoric that in turn enrich the work of other related disciplines. Two courses that introduce students to religious studies approaches are Theory and Method in the Study of Religion and Religion in American Life.
Many offerings are arranged as seminar discussions, so a great deal of student contribution is expected. Courses on contemporary religious cultures and attendant values may focus particularly on subjects that engage students' own values. They include Christian Ethics; Jewish Ethics; Judaism, Justice and Food; Religion and Ecology; Marriage and Sexuality in Islam; and Islam in America.
The two-semester Senior Tutorial may be started in the junior or senior year. It is a tutorial arrangement, an individualized course of study that develops a student's own original thesis with the research guidance of a faculty member. A major in Religious Studies requires eight courses in addition to the Junior Group Tutorial and Senior Tutorial. Individualized programs of study may be approached in consultation with a faculty member, who is the student's designated College advisor.
Majors who are successful will be able to:
Recognize and identify similarities and differences among various historical religious cultures and communities and the meaning of those similarities and differences for the religious beliefs and practices of the members of the respective communities.
Read and comprehend (in translation) religious literature of various sorts within the context of the historical religious culture which gave rise to that literature and has in turn been shaped by it.
Engage in critical analysis of religious phenomena, beliefs, and practices on the one hand, and conflicting interpretations of them on the other, while also recognizing the validity and value of those phenomena, beliefs and practices for those who adhere to them.
Appreciate the mutual influence of culture and historical context and a given religious tradition, and how each may affect the other at different times and in different places, while also recognizing the continuity of the faith tradition throughout history.
Articulate their own thoughts effectively both orally and in writing, exhibiting command of the preceding abilities in terms appropriate to the academic study of religion.
Kellie-Sue Martinucci, Alumna
Class of 2018
“ Allegheny offers some of the most dedicated faculty I have ever had the honor to work with. My professors worked constantly to make sure I was on track and gave me the guidance and tools to present my research at a conference. ”