Religion Department

Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of the Religion major, a student will have developed the capacity for exploring and understanding religions on their own terms as well as the capacity to interrogate religious self-understandings and self-expressions through critical analysis of the political, social, ethical, and aesthetic relations that they construct.

In terms of content mastery, Religion majors should:

  • Acquire a strong foundation in at least two religious traditions--Islam, Judaism, Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, Daoism, and Confucianism--and developed familiarity with its various global manifestations and internal diversity. “To know one is to know none” is the watchword of the discipline. Religious Studies strives to inculcate a complexified approach that will not function as the reflection of a single tradition, but assumes the comparative, cross-cultural approach.

In terms of skill mastery, Religion majors should be able to:

  • Identify and navigate historiographical, methodological, and theoretical problems in the study of religion.
  • Assess the utility of various disciplinary approaches in the critical study of religion. Historical, philological, interpretative, social scientific (such as sociological, anthropological, and political), literary approaches are all available for the student of religion to exploit in the larger interest of understanding religion and religious difference.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of religion’s complex and diverse manifestations in cultural, economic, political, aesthetic, and social life. Religions pervade human institutions and behaviors in complex and diverse ways, and this intrinsic complexity and diversity allows Religion majors to grasp the larger structures and unacknowledged depths of human activity.
  • Identify and pursue a research question and explain how it contributes to the theoretical and methodological problems that animate the study of religion.
  • Demonstrate a subtle and complex understanding of the multi-religious world in which graduates will spend their post-Reed lives. A Religion graduate will possess awareness of religious and cultural difference, of contending ideas and practices, applying a balance of critical questioning and tolerant acceptance, deriving from a firm base of empirical knowledge.

The primary assessment tool for learning in the major at Reed and the level of student achievement in the major area is the senior thesis; the junior qualifying examination, which assesses a student's readiness for thesis, provides a second assessment tool. See more information on the Religion senior thesis and on the Religion junior qualifying examination.