Goals of the Academic Area
The Religion and Culture academic area emphasizes analysis of the ways that religious expressions have transformed cultures and have been transformed by them. The area's programs utilize the methods of the social sciences and humanities in the study of religion, emphasizing the human and cultural dimensions of religious life. These methods may include anthropology, sociology, psychology, literary theory, history, phenomenology, ritual studies, and others.
The wide range of expertise found among the faculty of the School of Theology and Religious Studies, coupled with opportunities to study with faculty in many of Washington's universities and seminaries, assures the student expert instruction even as he or she designs a program tailored to their individual interests. At the same time, the program's rigor ensures adequate preparation for a highly competitive academic and professional job market.
All students in this program take required courses in religious studies methodology, hermeneutics, and the Catholic theological tradition. Otherwise, students are free to design their own programs in collaboration with their adviser. Students in the past have pursued research in religion and science, interreligious dialogue, Confucianism in the modern Vietnamese novel, medieval Islamic philosophy in comparison with western philosophy, the American religious experience, Hindu thought and practice, the practices of modern Latino parishes, and many other exciting topics.