Reed College Catalog

The religion–political science interdisciplinary major offers students an opportunity to acquire a firm foundation in both fields during the normal four-year college program without sacrificing electives. Increasingly over recent years, political scientists have applied their skills to the study of religion and conversely scholars of religion have become sensitive to the political dimensions of religion. Religion–political science does not have a specific area focus; that is up to the student’s choice. Because the student will be taking the junior seminar in both departments, the student will develop a range of analytical, hermeneutic, and quantitative skills to study issues from any area of the world. While this major is intrinsically valuable for students interested in focusing their undergraduate studies on religion and politics, it also prepares students who intend to do further graduate work in political science, religion or area studies—for example, Middle Eastern, South Asian, American, Islamic, or Jewish studies. 

To be admitted to the religion–political science program, a student will need to petition. The petition process should normally be initiated in the second semester of the sophomore year, and must be submitted no later than the end of the fourth week of the first semester of the junior year.  The petition should include a formal written statement describing a rationale for the course of study, a statement of the student’s educational objectives, and a list of prospective courses planned for the junior and senior years.

Requirements for the Major
A. Core Requirements
1. Religion courses
a) Two 100-level courses in different religions.
b) Religion 201 (Theory and Methods).
2. Political science courses
a) One empirical introductory course (Political Science 220, 240, or 260).
b) At least one political theory course (280–298 or 380–415).
c) Any one of Political Science 311, Mathematics 141, Economics 311 or 312, Sociology 311, or Psychology 348.

B. Upper-Division Requirements
3. Three other units in religion, at least two of which must be 300-level courses.
4. Three upper-division political science courses (300- or 400-level).

C. Junior Year Coursework
5. Religion 402 (Junior Seminar).
6. Political Science junior seminar.

D. Junior Qualifying Exam
Students are required to pass the junior qualifying exam in religion-political science, as well as make their thesis proposal to the committee.

E. Thesis
7. Religion–Political Science 470 (thesis).