Department of

Religious Studies

Who gets to define reality?

Religious Studies

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Multiple Perspectives

Why is it that the ways of thinking and living that people call “religious” are often judged by outsiders to be potentially harmful forms of delusion, while those who adhere to those lifeways understand them instead as providing access to what scholar Robert Orsi calls “the really real”?

Why Beloit?

Studying religion in an academic setting means approaching it not from the perspective of any one tradition, but rather as an essential framework for most human lifeways. We prioritize themes and perspectives that cut across different lifeways in order to discern different ways of being human and humane. Beloit’s religious studies program is distinctive in refusing to exempt non-religious lifeways from scrutiny, because to understand the meaning and value of “religion” in our world, you also need to understand the other side of the coin. 

Join us in exploring religion as it intersects with such topics as global affairs, racial and social justice, human embodiment, and the very nature of reality.

Portable Skills

If you think “religious studies” is limited and limiting, think again—there’s more to this field than meets the eye. Carve out your distinctive career trajectory by developing a robust set of skills that prepare you to chart your own path and pivot into new opportunities.

The Nitty-Gritty

Studying religion is different from studying how to be religious or living a religious life. But unlike many religious studies programs, our program does raise important questions about the assumed separation between secular “knowledge” and religious “belief.” We offer a major and a minor. Both combine brilliantly with other majors and minors, or with a broad, rich liberal arts education.

Your experience begins with “Religion and Reality,” our introductory course that examines how religion has shaped human lifeways over time and space. It continues in a range of intermediate courses that explore topics related to materiality, embodiment and power, and interpreting and interrogating representations of religion. All majors and minors take “Interdisciplinary Approaches to the Study of Religion.” Majors also complete a senior thesis on a topic of their own choosing. We encourage study abroad, language study, and community engagement as part of your journey.

Photograph of Rajvi Thakkar ’21

Tracing the Other in the Self

Rajvi Thakkar ’21 explores the interpenetration of self and other in “Traces,” an art exhibit that juxtaposes text with images inspired by Islamic and Buddhist visual vocabularies.


Building Worlds through Design and Education

Alumni Emily Eagle and Raphael Gang connect their current careers to their experiences at Beloit.


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