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Religion Department

Why study religion?

          It is impossible to comprehend the world around us without understanding religion.  Religion is a vital, dynamic, and irrepressible element of cultural life, both nationally and globally.One simply cannot understand our pluralistic and increasingly interconnected world without knowledge of the various religious traditions informing cultural identities and contributing to distinctive outlooks on life.  As a consequence, the need to understand religious diversity has become more urgent, rather than less, contradictingwhat many observers predicted a generation ago. Now, perhaps more than everbefore, the study of religion is a necessary and integral part of a well-rounded liberal arts education.
     With a view toward globalized cultural literacy, our students investigate how religions shape and are shaped by human cultures from multiple theoretical perspectives, including History of Religion, Philosophy of Religion, Feminism and Gender Studies, Semiotics, Orality Studies, Postmodernism, Cultural Studies, Phenomenology, and Psychology of Religion. The academic study of religion has, from its inception, been a“field-encompassing” discipline, which in turn intersects with other disciplines in the humanities, natural sciences, and social sciences.  It has been argued that the study of religion offers the most profound rapprochement between Western and non-Western, written and indigenous ways of being in the world. Using a multi-disciplinary approach, Skidmore students engage questions at the heart of the human effort to understand and represent the self, society, the world, and transcendent reality.
     This training well equips our students to enter any field requiring a solid liberal arts preparation, including education, law, diplomatic service, human services, journalism, business and development—to name just a few relevant areas. Some religion majors choose to pursue graduate studies in religion or to enter seminary, but for the most part our students find that their work in religion informs and enhances their professional preparation for a broad array of careers. The skills acquired in the study of religion may be applied widely, and special expertise provided by advanced work in the discipline proves invaluable in any work environment  that requires well-honed research skills, critical thinking, sensitivity todiversity, fluency in challenging cultural issues and a globalized knowledge base.