1.) Become critical readers of complex texts: In every class we teach, we use texts from the religious traditions of our respective fields: either primary and/or secondary sources. Our enterprise is devoted to helping students read complex texts. It is the heart of what we do.
2.) Develop research and analytical skills: Research is done throughout a religion major’s career, culminating in a Senior Thesis. Prior to that time, every seminar we teach requires papers; research papers are common in almost all of our 300 level courses; and our students participate in the analysis of the texts that are part of every course we teach. Even in introductory courses, faculty assign short exegetical papers for major texts that are being discussed.
3.) Learn and practice effective strategies for working both independently and collaboratively: The Senior Thesis is a piece of independent work completed in close consultation with a primary thesis advisor as well as a secondary reader. In some of our courses, collaboration by students in various combinations is essential; some of our classes use a debate format from time to time which requires student collaboration; others require group presentations.
4.) Develop the ability to communicate clearly, coherently, and effectively in writing and in speech: Again, the Senior Thesis Exercise demonstrates the highest degree of clear, coherent, and effective written communication. The oral component of the exercise stresses the skills of oral expression. All of our classes require written work. Class discussion is encouraged in all of them as a matter of course. While not all require formal oral presentations, seminars expect both written and oral expression.
5.) Develop artistic literacy: While not all of our courses treat the artistic dimension of religion, some of them do. Some courses use visual art and archaeological objects to illustrate the artistic aspects of religion. Other courses use music, literature and film.
6.) Attain competency in a language other than English: Courses are offered in the Religion Department in Biblical Hebrew and Sanskrit. Students may also avail themselves of courses in other departments, such as Arabic, Greek, Latin, Chinese and Japanese, in order to enhance their study of religion.
7.) Cultivate the ability to make informed ethical judgments: We provide resources for students to make ethical judgments by offering courses that address a broad range of ethical issues in the field of religion.
8.) Acquire knowledge of diverse cultural traditions and global perspectives: We introduce students to every major world religion as well as other forms of religious life and culture. Combined with reading complex texts, we encourage students to go abroad to enhance their study of religion.