What is the academic study of religion?
Religion, defined loosely as the beliefs and practices by which people relate to what they perceive as transcendent, is a major part of human life around the globe. It has historically been one of the most important components of the identities we build as individuals and as communities. Moreover, religion has a profound influence not only on issues like politics and nationality and economics, but on seemingly more mundane aspects of life like the clothes one wears and the food one eats. The extreme diversity we find both between and within religious communities means that this influence is far from uniform, but instead takes many forms.
Here at UWG, we study religion from a comparative and philosophical perspective. Rather than advocating for any particular religion, or for or against religion more generally, we instead seek to better describe and explain diverse examples of religious beliefs, texts, practices, and traditions, and to understand the role they play in shaping the areas of human life mentioned above.
Why study religion?
Working knowledge of some of the world's religious traditions is a valuable asset for someone in any career, especially in today's globalized world. Throughout your career, you are sure to work with persons of varied religious backgrounds as both your colleagues and customers. Additionally, like all humanities courses, courses in religion help you to develop the reading, writing, and critical thinking skills essential to success in any field. Finally, whatever your own religious convictions or views about the status and value of religion, studying religion from a philosophical perspective enables you to think more critically about those views and develop them in a more sophisticated way.
For more information, please see the Academic Catalog. A program map, which provides a guide for students to plan their course of study, is available for download in the Courses tab below.