Our courses approach the study of religion through the Cultural Studies Method advanced by the Religion & Public Life program at Harvard Divinity School. We believe this approach prepares students to understand the complex roles religions play in human culture and that a lack of understanding about the complex ways religion functions in human experience can fuel prejudice and bigotry and hinder cooperative endeavors in local, national, and global arenas.
Conversely, a more nuanced and sophisticated understanding of religion (what we call religious literacy) provides students with the tools to discern how religion is functioning in a given social and historical context. This method provides students a way to understand religion in context, with special attention to questions of power, peace, and conflict. This approach is nondevotional and academic, which means we acknowledge that there are multiple authentic expressions of religious devotion in the world. Our aim is to help all students develop these very understandings so they can grow into people able to address and transform their worlds in constructive ways and work towards a more just and peaceful world.