Religion

Wellesley College Chapel

Religious belief and practice have played an essential role in creating and challenging personal identity and societal norms since the dawn of human history. The study of religion is therefore a constituting element of humanistic inquiry.

The Religion Department pursues that inquiry through the critical interpretation of religious traditions, offering courses by scholars trained in Buddhism and the traditions of East Asia and South Asia, Hebrew Bible and the Ancient Near East, New Testament and Earliest Christianity, Judaism, Catholic and Protestant Christianity, and Islam. Students may also study religions of Africa and South America in cognate programs and departments.

The Religion Department’s courses employ a wide range of critical methods for interpreting these traditions including historical, literary, social, comparative, and cultural studies as well as moral and metaphysical reflection. The intellectual breadth and depth of Religion Studies has helped to prepare our graduates for many careers including business, law, medicine, public service, and teaching as well as ministry.

Goals for the Major

Students who elect a major in Religion will acquire these competencies and skills:

  • Students will learn to describe and interpret one of the great religious traditions or a central theme in two or more traditions.
  • Students will learn to analyze and assess sacred texts and religious writings, including their specialized rhetoric, forms, and contexts.
  • Students will learn to employ critical methods used in contemporary scholarship on religion.