While remaining intensely personal, the resurgence of religion in the public sphere is a
characteristic of our era. Religion has become central to contemporary culture,
politics, identity, and conflict in every part of the globe. At the same time, our world is marked by an
emerging pluralism, as globalization, migration and technology bring diverse
religious traditions into closer proximity and creates new religious
The Department of Religious Studies offers DePaul students
the opportunity to engage in the academic study of religion. The study of
religion includes not only the traditional areas of sacred texts, myths,
rituals, mystical experiences and doctrines, but also the ways in which
political, social and economic forces shape these phenomena for religious
communities. Drawing on a host of
academic disciplines, religious studies challenges students to encounter the
traditions of the world in all their rich diversity. Given the complexity of
the subject matter, members of the department draw upon several other academic
disciplines -- anthropology, art history, biblical studies, economics,
environmental studies, ethics, gender studies, history, linguistics, literature
and literary criticism, political science, philosophy, psychology, sociology,
and theology -- as they do their work.
Beyond work with texts, students may also study religion
through the media of film and video, music, the visual and dramatic arts, and the
internet. The department emphasizes
comprehensive learning in writing, synthetic and analytic thinking, and oral
communication skills. Students can go
beyond their course work with further learning opportunities, such as the
senior thesis, independent study, study abroad and internships, and service
learning, both locally and internationally.
A truly interdisciplinary field, religious studies at DePaul
helps students broaden cultural literacy and deepen critical skills. The study
of religion also prepares students to engage important conversations of our
day. Further, students may find that the study of religions can help them
respond not only to political, social and environmental challenges, but also to
address the existential questions they face and that are encountered by other
thoughtful men and women.
A religious studies major or minor is positioned to pursue a
wide variety of careers. A bridge between the specialist's perspectives on
religion and a wider world that is often in need of these perspectives,
religious studies majors have worked in the fields of law, social work,
regional and international business, governmental and non-governmental service,
secondary school teaching, and service in religious communities. A religious
studies major is also well-prepared for further studies in graduate programs
leading to careers in academia.
Religious studies at DePaul expresses the university's
distinct identity, which respects engaged pluralistic inquiry in all religious
issues and traditions. The department is
committed to DePaul's Catholic, Vincentian and urban heritage, mission, and
identity, and to its goal of establishing the university as a model of
diversity. The department's course
offerings reflect the diversity of the city of Chicago and of the students who
The twenty-two full-time faculty constitute one of the
largest and most diverse undergraduate departments of religious studies in the
United States. This size and diversity enables us to offer courses in a
wide range of geographical regions and historical periods. The research
and teaching interests of the faculty include American religious history as
well as South and East Asia, the African diaspora, North and Meso-America, the
Middle East and Europe. The faculty and curriculum includes specialists in Judaism,
Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, Shinto, as well
as Native American, African American, and Latino/a religious traditions.
In addition to excellence in teaching, the faculty also
maintain high standards for research, and are actively engaged in presenting at
major academic conferences and publishing their work in high-ranking
The Department of Religious Studies sponsors the Center for Religion, Culture, and Community and is fully engaged with Center for Intercultural
Theology and World Catholicism and other centers and institutes of the
University. It has a close working relationship with the Department of Catholic
Studies and the Islamic World Studies Program. Religious Studies is a vital
part of the First Year, Liberal Studies and Honors Programs.
The Department encourages students in all major
concentrations and minors to engage various questions related to the study of
religion, such as (but not limited to):
do religious communities come into being and define themselves?
do religious communities form worldviews, doctrines, and practices, and
how does the study of religion help us to understand their change over
do sacred texts come into being, and what do they communicate to us?
does religion shape culture, and how does the wider culture define
is the role of religion in the contemporary world?
do religion or religious sensibilities help us to relate (or hinder us
from relating) to each other?
can an informed student of religion evaluate the rival claims to truth and
moral rightness of different religious and secular ideologies?
do religious traditions and texts treat issues of sexuality and gender,
race and class?
have religious traditions interacted with each other in the past, and how
do they continue to do so today?