Religious Studies is a cooperative program offered jointly by Claremont McKenna, Harvey Mudd, Pitzer, Pomona, and Scripps Colleges. The program of study is designed to serve both as one focus of a liberal arts education and as a foundation for students planning to pursue the study of religion beyond the baccalaureate degree. Students may enroll in Religious Studies courses offered at any of the undergraduate colleges, and advanced students may, with permission, enroll in master’s-level courses in their area of specialization at Claremont Graduate University.
While offering a broadly based and inclusive program in the study of religion for all liberal arts students, the Religious Studies major affords the opportunity for more specialized work at the intermediate and advanced levels in particular historic religious traditions, geographical areas, philosophical and critical approaches, and thematic and comparative studies.
The Department of Religious Studies recognizes the importance and legitimacy of personal involvement in the study of religion, but it does not represent or advocate any particular religion as normative. Rather, the aim is to make possible an informed knowledge and awareness of the fundamental importance of the religious dimension in all human societies—globally and historically. In addition to preparing students for graduate study in religion, the multidisciplinary nature of the major affords students intellectual training to enter a variety of fields and careers. Recent graduates are, for example, in schools of law, medicine, and business. Others have careers in management, journalism and the media, college administration, primary and secondary education, government, and health and social services.
The Religious Studies major consists of 10 courses, including four courses in a specialized field, two integrative courses, three elective courses outside the specialized field, and a senior thesis. Specialized fields may, for example, consist of religious traditions (Asian, Western, Judaism), themes (Philosophy of Religion and Ethics, Gender and Women’s Studies), historical period (e.g. Religion in the Contemporary Period), and geographical area (e.g., Middle Eastern Studies, Religion in the Americas).
Language study appropriate to the specialized field and a period of study abroad when possible are strongly encouraged.
Department Goals and Objectives
- Majors will acquire specialized knowledge in at least one religious tradition, including its histories, rituals, beliefs, and ongoing issues through close examination of diverse bodies of evidence (religious texts, traditions, material cultures, and secondary scholarship).
- Gain proficiency in the interdisciplinary methodologies of Religious Studies (social scientific, literary, historical, theoretical, philosophical and cultural), while learning to evaluate the utility of these disciplinary approaches, and cultivate attitudes of empathetic study as well as critical distance toward objects of study.
- Be able to place religious traditions, issues, and debates in broader global and political contexts, with special sensitivities to the roles that religions can and do play in the articulation of national, racial, and gender identities.
- Learn how to conduct extended research that critically analyzes the theoretical implications of a religious phenomenon across broader social and cultural perspectives.
Student Learning Outcomes
- SLO1: Students will demonstrate knowledge of the contexts and contents of one specific religious tradition.
- SLO2: Students will be able to select and apply an interdisciplinary framework to the study of a particular religious phenomenon and demonstrate its intellectual effectiveness.
- SLO3: Students will be able to connect religious traditions, issues, and debates across global and political contexts in designated assignments.
- SLO4: Students will independently develop, investigate, and synthesize a research topic on a religious phenomenon.