The Department of Religion and Judaic Studies offers courses in religious traditions, theories, and methods in the study of religion, sacred texts, and religion and modern cultures, including courses with a sustainability/environmental focus and an emphasis on civic engagement. Students also have opportunities to study religion abroad at many of Dickinson’s eighteen global programs or its partner programs.
Courses that explore these areas include those that examine:
- The traditions of Asia and the West (particularly Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity, Judaism, and Islam)
- Theories and methodologies in the study of religion, including comparative, sociological, and psychological approaches.
- The historical and literary analysis of sacred texts, including the Hebrew Bible, New Testament, and Dead Sea Scrolls.
- Religion and contemporary issues, such as gender, violence/nonviolence, secularism, spirituality, and sustainability.
Courses appropriate for prospective majors
Courses in Religion do not have pre-requisites and are organized according to the nature of the topic. Students regardless of level or background may take any course that meets their interest. All religion courses satisfy Division 1A distribution requirements; many satisfy additional requirements (CC, AD, Sustainability, WID) or contribute to other programs (Health Studies, Environmental Studies, Food Studies).
100 level courses, limited to thirty-five students, are focused on a broad topic that is a concern of multiple religious traditions, such as the environmental crisis, the internet, religious identity, or social justice. They also introduce students to methodological approaches used in the study of religion, especially comparative analysis.
200 level courses are somewhat narrower in scope. Here we find courses on specific religious traditions (e.g., Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Islam), course on the interaction of religion and popular culture, and courses on the texts of Judaism and Christianity. Class size is 25.
300 level courses are seminars with an emphasis on writing and discussion and typically focus on a topic that is narrower and deeper than courses at lower levels, such as Buddhism in a particular culture, the formation of religious identity in a particular time period, or cults and communes. The emphasis is on constructive application of theories and methods to relevant topics.
400 level courses are senior seminars required of majors with an emphasis on methods for the study of religion and writing in the discipline.
Students interested in majoring or minoring in religion may read the requirements described in the Academic Bulletin and/or contact the chair of the department, Professor Dan Cozort, for more information.
Courses that fulfill distribution requirements
Humanities (Division I A):
Any course offered by the department.
Any courses concerned with Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, East Asian religions, or Spiritual Dimensions of Healing.
Courses such as God in America and Jews and Judaism in the U.S.
Writing in the Discipline (WID):
Religion 410 (Interpreting Religion), required for the major and minor.
Suggested curricular flow through the major
The Religion major may be completed in a variety of ways. While there are several core courses that develop foundational knowledge in key areas, the flexible curriculum gives you the freedom to focus on the area of study you find most compelling. We ask that you take at least one course at the 100 level, that you take at least two courses involving Western religious traditions (Christianity, Judaism, or Islam) and two in other traditions, that you take three courses on a particular tradition or on a particular theme, and finish with the two senior seminars (410 and 490). Some courses may count for more than one of these requirements, and there is no prescribed order. You will work closely with your departmental faculty advisor to design your major.
The following suggested program is just one example of how a student with a special interest in Asian religion might fulfill the major requirements over four years.
For information regarding the suggested guidelines, please feel free to contact a Religion faculty member.
Students are eligible for Honors in Religion if they (1) complete the courses in the Religion major with at least a 3.25 GPA and (2) complete a thesis in the Senior Seminar (RELG 490) that in the opinion of the Department is an exemplary piece of academic writing.
Students who wish to complete a more in-depth project may register for RELG 550 (independent research) in the fall of their senior year and continue the work on this project during the Senior Seminar in the spring.
Independent study and independent research
According to their special interests, students often develop and pursue Independent Study projects with members of the faculty. Among the projects recently undertaken have been Liberation Theology in Latin America, Abraham and Monotheism, The Hindu Temple, Martin Luther King, Jr., C. S. Lewis, Hopi Kachinas, Tibetan Views on Death, Spirituality and Activism, Women and Religion, and Philosophical Theology.
Opportunities for off-campus study
Students have regularly taken Junior Year Abroad programs in Scotland, England, Germany, France and Israel. The college also participates in the CIEE Program in Hyderabad, India.
Senior Thesis: Seniors complete a capstone writing project as part of RELG 490, the Senior Seminar. A student interested in pursuing departmental honors may choose to do a year-long independent project under the direction of a member of the faculty