Why Study Religion?
For better or for worse, religion is a fixture in life and society as we know it. It interacts with virtually every area of human thought and activity, including:
One therefore need not consider oneself “religious” in order to find religion worth studying. The academic study of religion exists to help make sense of both the history of religions and religious experience in general.
Studying Religion at Alma
Among other things, Religious Studies examines the way a person or community makes sense out of life (world view) and the ways a person or community acts out a particular world view (lifestyle). The study of religion includes:
- Exploration of the nature and meaning of religious dimensions of human experience (theorizing religion)
- Study of the traditions which remember and transmit religious experience and expressions (world religions, history, and theology)
- Familiarity with traditional and contemporary scholarly approaches to the study of religion (methodology)
- Understanding of the concrete implications of religious world views (ethical, social, and political analysis)
The department of Religious Studies encourages an inquisitive, analytical, and open approach to multiple religious perspectives; it also encourages students’ awareness of their own value frameworks through the exploration of the value frameworks in various religious perspectives.
The goal of the department is to foster a broad understanding of human religious traditions that is applicable to virtually any profession Alma students might choose (see “What Can I Do With a Major in Religious Studies?”).