Religion has long been one of the main drivers of human history. And despite predictions of its demise, religion remains a vital component of all societies in the world today. Understanding religious texts, histories, and practices is indispensable for exploring the human quest for meaning, and it comprises an integral part of a liberal arts education.
The Religion Department focuses on the in-depth, academic study of five religious traditions—Buddhism, Christianity, Judaism, Islam, and Hinduism. We teach courses on these religions and their complex histories, using various humanistic and social scientific methodologies. We also teach comparative courses and courses that examine theoretical and philosophical questions about what religion is.
The faculty consists of six full-time professors who work on texts, ancient languages, philosophy, literature, history, and the social and cultural study of religion. While we publish research in different traditions, historical periods, and areas of the world, we share questions about what religion is and how it can be studied critically. We also share a commitment to teaching religious and cultural literacy as an essential component of the informed and global citizenship so needed in the world today.
Whether you take one or two courses in Religion or decide to major in the Department, you will explore fascinating ideas and practices concerning matters of highest consequence and value in human life. You will also gain a cosmopolitan and critical understanding of how ideas, practices, and institutions work historically and in contemporary life.
CHAIR: PROF. MARIA HEIM
206 Chapin Hall
Amherst, MA 01002-5000
ACADEMIC DEPARTMENT COORDINATOR: LAURIE CANTER
108 Chapin Hall
17 Barrett Hill Road
Amherst, MA 01002