Can you understand the world you live in without studying religion? Probably not. Underlying most human endeavors – whether politics, business, medicine, psychology, family life, and personal fulfillment-is a complex array of religious beliefs, spiritual yearning, and existential questions. The study of Religion explores the religious beliefs, actions, and cultural practices of individuals and communities across the world and throughout history.
Through the course of their studies, our students gain an intercultural literacy and an appreciation for the worldviews of other peoples and cultures, as well as their own. Religious Studies courses offer you a variety of disciplinary perspectives on religion, including the spiritual, historical, literary, ethical, doctrinal, contemplative, and social dimensions of religious people and cultures. Engaging the study of religions through academic inquiry, we seek to generate respect for the religious lives of all traditions. While many students find the study of religion fruitful for reflecting on their own religious identity, no particular religious position is privileged or assumed in any of our courses.
Bachelor of Arts Requirements
The major consists of ten courses and the senior capstone The ten courses are to be fulfilled from the categories listed below.
1. One introductory course in foundations of religious studies:
Foundational courses provide students with a framework for understanding religious traditions and introduce students to the methods and approaches to the study of religion.
REL 125 World Religions
REL 131 American Religious History
Or the equivalent determined in consultation with a departmental advisor
2. Two courses in Cultures and Communities:
Courses in cultures and communities introduce students to the diverse worlds in which religious communities have found-and continue to find-their form.
REL 126 Asian Religions in Southern California
REL 145 Introduction to Islam
REL 165 Islam in America
REL 189 Religion and Popular Culture
REL 199 Cults and Sects: The History of New Religious Movements in America
REL 202 History of Judaism
REL 206 The 'Other' Jesus
REL 208 Global Christianities REL 232 Hinduism(s)
REL 232 Hinduism(s)
REL 233 Buddhisms
REL 245 Queer Religiosities
REL 251 Women, Sexuality and Western Religion
REL 252 African-American Religion and Spirituality
REL 255 Gender in Islam
REL 325 Japanese Religion and Arts
REL 350 The History of Social Protest in America
REL 351 Women, Sexuality, and Buddhist Traditions
REST 231 Native American Women and Gender
REST 234 Race, Ethnicity and Religion
REST 346 Native American Religions and World Views
SOAN 233 Jewish Culture: Cooking and Community
SOAN 354 Jewish Identity
Or a topics course approved by the departmental advisor
3. Two courses in Texts and Contexts:
Texts and contexts courses invite students to engage in close and contextualized analysis of the textual traditions of a given religious tradition.
REL 241 Ancient/Biblical Hebrew (2-course sequence; 2 credits each)
REL 242 Hellenistic Greek (2-course sequence; 2 credits each)
REL 292 Sacred Life Stories in Asian Religious Traditions
REL 307 Old Testament Literature: Hebrew Scriptures
REL 308 Christian Scriptures
REL 330 Buddhist Literary Imagination
REL 411 Masterpieces of Asian Literature
ENGL 118 The Literature of the Bible
Or a topics course approved by the departmental advisor.
4. Religion and Ethics:
Ethical teachings and practices are central to every religious tradition. The study of Religion and Ethics provides us with resources for addressing ethical crises in the world today.
REL 120 Religion and Ethics
REL 122 Religion and Ecology: Environmental Ethics
REL 250 Compassion
REL 257 Science and Religion
REL 323 Mysticism
REL 358 Psychology and Religion
REST 242 Southern California Indian Relations with the Land
SOAN 232 Saints, Sects, and Society
OR a topics course approved by the departmental advisor
In order to construct a course of study with sufficient breadth and depth, of the ten courses drawn from the above categories, at least one 200 level (or above) focusing upon non-Western religions must be taken.
5. Electives-three additional courses selected from the list above or a semester abroad program chosen in consultation with an advisor in the Religious Studies Department. REL 450 (2 credits) may be taken twice to count for one of the elected courses, as may other 2-credit REL classes.
6. Capstone Requirement:
Two Senior Seminars:
REL 490 (taken the Fall Semester of the senior year)
REL 495 (taken the Spring Semester of the senior year)
Senior Religious Studies minors, Johnston seniors, and seniors from interdisciplinary programs may request permission to enroll in these seminars.
7. Capstone Project- Successful completion of ONE of the following two capstone projects (specific guidelines and deadlines are available for each option in the department office):
A substantial research paper that offers an original and in-depth examination of a topic approved by the student's advisor.
Reflective engagement in a meaningful off-campus site of service or ministry, approved by one’s advisor. Examples are a religious organization (church, temple, mosque, monastery), government agency, or non-profit organization. Students are encouraged to find a site that expands their learning related to an anticipated profession. The internship is meant to be in addition to the Community Service Learning Activity (CSAC) graduation requirement. Eighty hours are required, or the equivalent in consultation with one’s advisor.
Program Learning Outcomes
I. Learning Goal: Students will develop a sophisticated appreciation for the complexity of religious cultures and communities.
Students examine and apply a variety of methodological approaches for exploring religious traditions.
Students recognize diverse forms of religious thought and practices within and between religious traditions.
Students identify the reciprocal dynamic of religious beliefs and practices with politics, economics, and other social arenas.
II. Learning Goal: Students will encounter religious texts by employing interpretive reading methods giving light to new insights for illumining their lives.
Students critically analyze and interpret texts invested with religious authority.
Students distinguish and locate transformative textual processes in different historical-cultural contexts.
III. Learning Goal: Students will be transformed by their learning.
Students analyze complex ethical questions through a variety of ethical perspectives including those grounded in religious traditions.
Students discover evolving self-knowledge, which includes an awareness of their own ethical values and a familiarity with their own sources for personal renewal, encounters with beauty, and compassion towards self and others.
IV. Learning Goal: Students will develop skills enabling them to be independent thinkers.
Students create an independent research project by formulating an original, substantive, and meaningful thesis, and provide evidence of prolonged engagement with appropriate sources in order to support their argument.
Students articulate their academic voice by placing their own projects in conversation with broader scholarship. Students will demonstrate the mastery of their project by communicating their findings in a public forum.
Opportunity for Students
As a student in the Department of Religious Studies, you have many unique opportunities.
Topics: You can choose from an exciting range of courses on topics such as scriptures, world religions, ethics, religion, and the environment, mysticism, Asian religions, psychology and religion, women and religion, and Biblical languages Greek and Hebrew.
Faculty and teaching: We have an award-winning faculty who are personally engaged with each student. The class sessions include interactive discussion, spatial analysis, literary enactment, problem-solving, films, artistic expression, meditation, outdoors exploration, field trips to religious sites, ethical reflection, and many other modes of learning.
Travel: Our May Term offerings give you the chance to learn experientially about religion and spirituality by traveling locally or globally. Southern California is one of the world's most diverse religious areas, and you can also take trips to Japan, Great Britain, India, and other areas.
Meditation: Redlands has one of the first contemplative-based program options in the country. You can enroll in one of the contemplative academic courses such as Zen Meditation, Guided Imagery for Healing, or the Seminar on Compassion. Or you can participate in our weekly Free Community Meditation Classes for personal enrichment: yoga, deep relaxation, Tai Chi, Christian contemplative prayer, Zazen, etc.
Community: Our Department community is vibrant in its intellectual life and commitment to human flourishing. The J.W. and Ida M. Jameson Center for the Study of Religion and Ethics sponsors a lecture series, workshops, and special events. The weekly Jameson Colloquium is an opportunity for weekly dialogue on important social issues. Senior Students have the chance to present their own original research in this forum.
Careers: In terms of career paths, our graduates in Religious Studies enter a number of different fields, including law, medicine, ministry, psychology, business, education, journalism, and international relations.
Many of our students continue their education at seminary or doctoral programs. We have a strong track record of our students being accepted to Harvard, Yale, and other selective graduate programs in the field.
Application Checklist - First-Year Student
The Common Application, including the personal essay and University of Redlands member questions
$50 application fee
Official transcripts from all secondary schools attended
One letter of recommendation from guidance/college counselor and/or the Common Application Secondary school report
One letter of recommendation from a teacher who can speak to your academic ability
Students whose native language is not English, cannot apply test-optional and may meet English proficiency by providing one of the following scores:
550 SAT Evidence-Based Reading and Writing
21 ACT English and Reading Sections
TOEFL minimum 80iBT/550 paper based
IELTS minimum 6.5
iTEP minimum 3.9
Duolingo English Test (DET) minimum 105
Graduation from a secondary school in which the primary language of instruction is English
Certificate of Finances and proof of financial support