Religion continues to be a powerful force for shaping human societies and cultures across the globe. It can inspire the full range of human activities – from marvelous acts of generosity and kindness to terrifying acts of pain and violence. Religion in its multiple expressions directly addresses what it means to be a good human being¸ and often lies at the root of an individual's personal quest for meaning. In contemporary times, the study of religion is also an essential passport to intercultural understanding across the globe.
The Department of Religious Studies at UTK promotes the critical and comparative study of religion, and does not favor one religious tradition at the expense of others. Drawing upon a range of perspectives – historical, anthropological, textual, and theoretical – the Department highlights both the variety and complexity of religious beliefs, practices, communities, and institutions. The faculty's expertise is wide-ranging. Their research and teaching interests span religious traditions such as Christianity, Islam, and Buddhism; geographic regions such as the Americas and Africa, the Ancient Mediterranean and Asia; and thematic topics such as the relationship of religion to politics, gender, violence, sport, media, and the arts.