Religious Studies is a diversified and multi-faceted discipline focusing on the study of specific traditions and the general nature of religion as a human phenomenon.
For thousands of years, eager minds have grappled with life’s larger questions. From the origins of ancient religious texts to their enduring relevance to modern culture, religious studies is a fascinating field that continues to captivate the minds of scholars and students alike. Contrary to popular opinion, religious studies degrees are not only useful to those seeking to secure positions within a religious organization. In fact, religious studies is one of the most intellectually and philosophically challenging fields you can delve into, and people from all walks of life pursue degrees in religious studies to broaden their knowledge of comparative faiths, learn more about the enduring principles that make faith such a relevant part of everyday life, and deepen their understanding of both the similarities and differences between the world’s most common religions.
What Might a Religious Studies Degree Entail?
The study of religion involves much more than poring over spiritual texts and learning about the roots of today’s major faiths. Religious studies deals with many other academic disciplines, making religious studies a popular choice for individuals from a variety of academic backgrounds. Religion has proven one of history’s driving cultural forces, and its effects can be seen everywhere from the intricacies of the legal system to advanced anthropological principles.
As a liberal arts major, religious studies also encompasses many fascinating topics that have defined how we live in the 21st century. Religion has shaped geographical and cultural boundaries over thousands of years, and has played a crucial role in virtually all societies’ cultural development. For these reasons, religious studies degree programs can involve topics as diverse as archeology to architecture, sociology to theology, and almost everything in between.
Why Study Religion?
Whether you’re working toward a greater academic understanding of comparative religion or want to secure a position in a religious organization, there are many reasons why studying religion can be an immensely intellectually rewarding endeavor.
Many religious studies degree programs place significant emphasis on the role and value of critical thinking skills. Given the contradictions between religious texts that have occupied some of history’s greatest minds for centuries, it should come as little surprise that the ability to independently assess and interpret the meanings and significance of religious and historical texts is of great importance to religious studies majors. At its heart, religious studies emphasizes the analysis of the core belief systems that have shaped entire civilizations, making it an excellent field of study for inquiring minds who want to learn more about the driving cultural forces that have influenced the history of the modern world.
Famous People Who Majored in Religious Studies
As a primarily philosophical field of study, it is a given that some of history’s most renowned thinkers studied religion prior to embarking on their personal missions that changed the world. Notable students of religious studies include civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., former U.S. President and principle author of the Declaration of Independence Thomas Jefferson, prodigious novelist David Foster Wallace, and Pope John Paul II, to name but a few.