Religious Studies Department, UW Oshkosh
Some of the earliest scholars of Religious Studies conceived of religion as the “belief in superhuman beings”, or they focused on a Sacred that is “wholly other”. The contemporary study of religion, however, is largely the study of people and of the unique ways that people make meaning in their lives. The main goals of the Religious Studies program at UWO are to study how individuals and communities around the world do this through their use of religious language, imagery, and performance. In studying the five major World Religions – Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism – students will engage specific issues that pertain to each: the Holocaust, the roles of women in the Bible, Islamic modernism, Hindu myth and ritual, and Zen Buddhist practice to name just a few.
Additionally, students will wrestle with issues that transcend and question the boundaries of these five traditions, examining comparative and contemporary issues in the study of religion, including:
Relevance of Religious Studies
More than simply describing the religions of the world, scholars of Religious Studies seek to understand the historical development of traditions, texts, practices, and other human behavior that might be considered “religious.” To do this, they employ techniques, strategies, and theories from many fields outside of Religious Studies--from Anthropology, English, History, Sociology, Psychology, and many others.
Students who graduate with a degree in Religious Studies will be well versed in the texts and practices of the world’s major religions, and, in addition, they will be well connected to other fields and other departments on campus. The training and the extensive practice they acquire in critical thinking, analytical writing, and sympathetic discussion will serve them well after graduation, as they develop the skills sought, not only by graduate schools, but by leaders in business and non-profit organizations.