Academic Program

Professors Baker (chair) and Bruce; Associate Professors Akhtar and Melnick Dyer


Religious Studies is a humanistic and social-scientific discipline that provides windows onto a wide range of cultural phenomena and contemporary social questions. It explores religion as a foundational element in all cultures while drawing together – and providing opportunities to sharpen one’s skills in – multiple methods of study, including those associated with history, literature, ethnography, political science, anthropology, sociology, critical race theory, philosophy, psychology, natural sciences, critical gender theory, cultural studies, and theology. Majors and minors are encouraged to explore how their studies in other fields intersect with religious studies questions, concerns, and methods.

Religious studies majors work closely with members of the department in designing their program of study and their thesis project. Although the Senior Research Seminar and Thesis are the only courses required of every major, all majors a) take courses at the introductory, intermediate, and advanced levels; b) gain breadth and depth in their understanding of a variety of religious traditions and practices; and c) develop skills in a wide array of theoretical and methodological approaches to the study of religion. The department strongly encourages study abroad, and students may petition to count up to two credits earned abroad toward the major or minor. More information on the religious studies curriculum is available on the website (bates.edu/religion).