Message from the Chair

The department has a dynamic faculty with expertise in various religions: eastern, western and indigenous, ancient, medieval, and modern. Examples include African American and Native American religions, Daoist healing traditions in China, Christian attitudes toward gender and the body, the prophetic traditions of the Ancient Near East, Christian Pentecostalism in Haiti, Tibetan Buddhist monasticism, and religion in American popular culture today. We also apply a broad array of disciplinary methods to the study of religion: Some of us are trained as historians, others are scholars of texts and media and others are anthropologists, but all are devoted to understanding the impact that religion has and continues to have in human society. Faculty members are also devoted to teaching. Our students find them friendly, accessible, and committed to personal interaction and to mentoring individual projects.

Many modern westerners have tended to think that religions are either dying out or have been relegated to the private sphere where they have little public or political importance. Recent events after 9/11 and January 6th in the United States and around the world, however, have seriously called into question this view of religion’s irrelevance. Far from becoming insignificant today, religion continues to shape world events, national policies, daily life, and cultural production in communities throughout the world. The way in which religion shapes thought and action, human history, and current events, is exceedingly complex and yet vital to understanding the world around us. In our increasingly cosmopolitan world, the need to understand the beliefs, values, and practices of diverse cultures has become a political and moral imperative. We invite you to join us in exploring these issues.

Please take time to visit the links here for our various programs, affiliated departments, and the extracurricular opportunities that are provided. If you are not yet a student at the College but plan on making a campus visit, we would be happy to arrange for you to sit in on a lecture or seminar, or meet with individual faculty members.

We look forward to getting to know you.

Zeff Bjerken, Chair