The major in Religion and Politics prepares students to interpret the influence of religion in the various spheres of cultural life and in light of prevailing political climates. In particular, we study the role of religious values in fomenting conflict and promoting peace; in preparing for a life of service; and in giving depth and direction to culture.
The study of contemporary religions as a living phenomenon requires the concomitant study of social sciences and politics in order to deepen one’s appreciation of the ways in which the religious roots of any society can impact upon both politics and culture. This becomes increasingly important in a world in which a successful career in business or diplomacy requires an understanding of the way that religion shapes culture, political thought and current conflicts. This program, one of the few of its kind in the world, provides students with a broad understanding of the major themes within religion while also allowing them to develop expertise in one of three cultural spheres: Western Religion and Culture; Islamic Religion and Culture or East Asian Religion and Culture. With this expertise, graduates of this program will be equipped to provide a deeper analysis of existing social structures and contribute to solutions in the worlds of international relations, media and more broadly political science.
Required courses from a common foundation prepare students to apply their knowledge in one of three concentrations. In the foundations sequence, students are acquainted with the belief systems of the world’s major religions as well as political science and economics. This aspect of study involves learning religious studies methods, political science methodologies, principles of economics, cultivating the capacity for critical analysis, developing cultural sensitivity, and securing ability to communicate within an array of cultural and political idioms. In the concentrations sequence, students focus their learning on current problems and practically-oriented solutions. Three defined concentrations are possible: (1) East Asian Religion and Society; (2) Islamic Religion and Society; and (3) Judeo-Christian Thought and Society. With the consultation of an advisor, a self-planned option is also possible.
Integrative in nature, this study draws upon other disciplines. Students in Religion and Politics are encouraged to take courses in political science, history, literature, economics, sociology, and mass communication. Our students prepare to serve in non-governmental organizations, to seek professional degrees to further lives of service, and to enroll successfully in graduate schools of the highest caliber. Since the program is personally and intellectually demanding, its admissions policy is selective.