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 UT 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 Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, and indigenous traditions; geographic regions such as the Americas, Africa, the Ancient Mediterranean, and Asia; and thematic topics such as the relationship of religion to politics, gender, violence, sports, media, and the arts.
A Message from Department Head Christine Shepardson
Welcome to the Department of Religious Studies! This is a particularly exciting time of growth for our department despite the challenges posed by the pandemic. Last year was the first for our new concentration in Religion and Nonprofit Leadership, and also saw the inauguration of our online minor as well as a new course on Religion in the Workplace. This year will be the first for our new concentration in Religion, Race, and Ethnicity, and we just launched a new Graduate Certificate in Religious Studies that we hope will attract students from across campus.
The Department of Religious Studies remains active in fostering research and teaching excellence and is a campus leader in diversity, equity, and inclusion work for our campus and community. We are delighted to have welcomed our newest tenure-line colleague Larry Perry to our Department last year, and look forward to welcoming our newest colleague in Religion and Public Health next year along with another new colleague in Religion and the Environment – stay tuned!
Introducing Graduate Studies in Religious Studies
Although UT does not offer graduate degrees in Religious Studies, it is possible to do graduate work with our faculty in various other capacities. Learn more