Chair, Philosophy, Religion & Classics
P.O. Box 9712
Roanoke, VA 24020
The religious studies major focuses on the world's religions — their rituals, beliefs, texts, and ethical systems — as well as the various cultural contexts that shape, and are in turn shaped by, religious communities and beliefs.
The major offers critical understandings of religion as a community and individual enterprise, especially as religion relates to other human endeavors in the allied fields. It allows students to engage religious issues with other disciplines. All religious studies majors take six core classes and four classes in their chosen area of concentration (art, classical studies, English, history, pastoral studies, philosophy, sociology, or gender & women's studies). The major's capstone involves a senior seminar, which includes a major research project.
The religious studies major provides excellent training in cultural literacy. It offers broad background for graduate school in religious studies, ministerial studies, international studies, or programs in the allied fields. Its broadest appeal will be to those who wish to engage and integrate several different fields of study, and to understand religious community and spirituality in their incarnations across many disciplines and cultures.
Many religious studies classes provide opportunities for learning beyond the classroom. Introductory classes require a visit to and reflection on a religious service outside of one's own tradition and a class trip to the Hindu temple. Other classes involve visiting Christian worship services, the Bodhi Path Buddhist center, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., and participation in a Jewish Passover Seder meal.
Students often spend the January Short Term in alternative educational and experiential settings.