About Religious Studies
Our Program and Courses
Religious studies is a major and a minor at F&M. Through a blended lens of humanities and social sciences, you will engage in unbiased studies and analyses of a variety of religious traditions embedded in myth, ritual, art, ethics, doctrine, philosophy, and literature. Most of all, you will explore what it means to be human by investigating the limits of human beings, their audacious explanations of the immaterial and transcendental, the extremity of their practices and beliefs, the ordinary ways in which they confront violence and suffering, and much more.
By the time you graduate, you will be able to demonstrate:
- Familiarity with a wide range of the major religious traditions through use of primary sources.
- The ability to approach objects, activities, and people from an unbiased, critical perspective.
- A fluency in the basic theories of religion and a complex understanding of its historical contexts.
- Familiarity with social scientific methodologies for the study and analysis of religion as a living and evolving practice.
- The ability to use your understanding of religion and religious belief systems to analyze current national and international events.
Curious what a course in religious studies is like? Explore our course catalog to see the depth and breadth available to you.
Our Faculty and Staff
Professor of Religious Studies
Comparative Literary Studies; Judaic StudiesContact »
Adjunct Assistant ProfessorContact »
Academic Department Coordinator
Africana Studies; Judaic Studies; Religious StudiesContact »
Arthur & Katherine Shadek Professor of Religious Studies
Science, Technology and Society; Scientific and Philosophical Studies of MindContact »
Learning Outside the Classroom
We value individualized, independent study, and offer many opportunities for exploring the topics that intrigue you both on campus and around the world. With our many research and study-abroad opportunities, you can step outside the structure of the classroom and embark on your own explorations in religious studies.
Every student at F&M has extraordinary opportunities to engage in independent or faculty-led
research. Recent students have studied specific Native American traditions, Hindu mythology,
spiritual healing, 20th-century women mystics, and modern commentaries on the Book
Explore research at F&M
We offer many opportunities for you to explore topics that pique your interest both
on campus and in locations around the world. We also offer students the option of
taking a religious course at Lancaster Theological Seminary, a college for aspiring
theologians and religious practitioners located just across the street from F&M’s
campus. Additionally, many students choose to study abroad. Previous students have
visited Japan, Israel, India, Nepal, South Africa, Tibet, Morocco, Scotland, and the
Explore off-campus study at F&M
Success Beyond F&M
The intellectual and analytical activities that make up the work of religious studies — including social research, data gathering, collaborating with others, and critical thought — help you develop useful and productive skills, which are highly valuable for any post-college plan.
The religious studies department has an excellent record of preparing students for a broad range of careers and elite graduate programs, including those at Harvard, Yale, the University of Chicago, and University of California, Santa Barbara.
Religious studies graduates enjoy a vast array of careers, including in the nonprofit sector, business, medicine, government, and education. They hold positions such as:
- Director of Student Success
“I am able to study everything under one branch: religious studies, literature, texts, anthropology, sociology.”Initially drawn to F&M for its international study programs, Ashley Guernsey '22 was quickly captivated by the College's liberal arts approach to religious studies. "I like the way they study different religions from an interdisciplinary lens. I am able to study everything under one branch: religious studies, literature, texts, anthropology, sociology."
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“I want to be in the front and center and be immersed in the political system.”A government major and religious studies minor, Ali Husaini '22 has had many professional opportunities to discover what legislative affairs look like and explore what happens in the halls of Congress. "I want to be in the front and center and be immersed in the political system, getting outcomes that benefit the people that are most in need," he said.
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Related Fields of Study
What does art of the past tell us about the transformation of visual and material experience over time? By studying art history at F&M, you’ll actively engage with this living dimension of the past through its artifacts, images, architecture, and relevant texts.
Immerse yourself in a rich artistic and intellectual tradition. By studying Classics at F&M, you’ll gain a deep understanding of the ancient Mediterranean while building an appreciation of its lasting legacies, empowering you to become a productive and thoughtful citizen in today’s rapidly changing world.
Learn to think clearly and creatively about the big questions: the nature of meaning, morality, justice, art, the mind, knowledge, language, and reality. By studying philosophy at F&M, you’ll search for understanding while discovering how to value the reason for an answer as much as the answer itself.
A Glimpse at F&M Religious Studies
February 21, 2023
'Everything is Impermanent': Lessons from an Ancient Spiritual Art Form
An integral component of the F&M student experience is the opportunity to learn about new cultures and forms of art directly from expert practitioners around the globe. From Feb. 13 to 17, the...Buddhist monk and mandala artist Losang Samten explores impermanence at Franklin & Marshall
May 11, 2022
'Someone Like Me Does Have the Opportunity to Make Change in This Country'
Senior government major Ali Husaini discusses how financial aid and extraordinary hands-on experiences are launching him toward his dreams of entering politics and making positive changes for those...Government major discusses how financial aid and hands-on experiences are launching him toward entering politics.
January 7, 2022
Religion and the Brain: A Q&A with Professor John Modern
Students in John Modern's courses shouldn't be surprised to see their professor teaching from behind a turntable. A chat with John Modern about his book