The Bachelor of Arts in Religion is a solid liberal arts degree, providing graduates with the knowledge base and the intellectual, communication, and interpersonal skills essential to success in any career. More specifically, knowledge of religion – and the ability to think clearly and communicate effectively about it – is valuable in fields that involve public affairs, international and cross-cultural relations, religious issues or groups, or interaction with diverse individuals and populations. While it provides insights into the role of religion in personal, group, and societal identity and conflict, studying religion does not require any particular religious background or commitment.
The department places major emphases on three dimensions in the study of religion:
- The faculty and course offerings provide an introduction to the major religions of the world, with an emphasis on the comparison of traditions and their encounters with one another. Instruction is offered in African and African American religions, Buddhism, Christianity, Confucianism, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism and Taoism.
- The program stresses the engagement of religious traditions with the major trends and issues – social, political, and ethical – in contemporary culture and society.
- Students are introduced to the major methods of study in religion, with stress on critical analysis of religions by the methods of the humanities and social sciences, including textual and historical analysis, philosophical and hermeneutical studies, and social and cultural analysis.
The program thus ensures that the faculty and students will find themselves involved in a continuing conversation about methods for the study of religion and the multiple relations of religious traditions to one another and to the contemporary world. Course seminars, departmental forums, and faculty-student interest groups serve to engage students in the diversity and dialogue in the study of religion.
Whether it be Buddhist thought, Islamic law, Christian origins, Jewish philosophy, African American spirituality, Hindu metaphysics, Confucian and Taoist classics, religion and contemporary American society, or interreligious dialogue, students can choose from a variety of faculty and courses designing their own individualized programs of study and research. Religion is a pervasive, powerful, multifaceted, and enduring dimension of human experience. Religions have shaped complex cultures and countless individual lives. They are influential in the world today and will continue to be so in the future. The academic study of religion is multidisciplinary, drawing upon approaches from history, literary studies, philosophy, and the social sciences. It is multicultural, exploring the beliefs, practices, and development of particular religious communities in many different cultures. The Temple Religion Department is one of the most diverse in the university, with faculty members and students of many different religious traditions, cultures, and academic and personal perspectives. The richness of religious and cultural life in Philadelphia and the region provides a valuable context for the study of religion and of religious traditions and communities.
Degrees and Programs of Study
- Bachelors of Arts in Religion – Program Overview and Degree Requirements (Undergraduate Bulletin)
- Minor in Religion – Program Overview and Degree Requirements (Undergraduate Bulletin)
- Minor in Jewish Studies – Program Website, Program Overview and Degree Requirements (Undergraduate Bulletin)
Individuals with a degree in religion enter careers and graduate programs in many areas, including but not limited to: journalism and communications, social work, ministry/chaplaincy, pre-law, pre-med/health services, government/FBI, NGOs, hospice/end-of-life care, international enterprise, education, academic research, human resources, and tourism and hospitality.
A student majoring in religion can expect to take Religion 1001, Religion and Society, one writing intensive course such as What is Christianity or Introduction to the Bible, two or more courses from an array of non-Western traditions, five elective courses – three of which must be upper level – and the capstone seminar in religion.
Elective opportunities and special topics courses include: Martyrs and Suicide; Monks, Masters, and Magicians; Women in Islam; Yoga and Tantric Mysticism; Religion and Human Sexuality; Earth Ethics; Sacred Spaces; From Torah to Talmud; Religion and Science; Death and Dying; Kabbalah and Mysticism; Islam in American.
Dr. Mark Leuchter