Macalester religious studies students traveled to Cambodia with Professor Erik W. Davis in January 2013. The trip is part of a course in which students focus on the importance of Cambodia as a privileged site through which to examine recent global histories, through the lenses of political ideology, economic organization, and cultural transformation.
Religious studies is a broadly interdisciplinary investigation that takes its place among the humanities and social sciences. Majors in religious studies enter a wide range of vocations, from the pursuit of graduate work in the study of religion or professional life in the parish ministry/rabbinate, to entering fields as diverse as journalism, law, medicine, and community activism. The department works with students who want to focus on the academic study of religion, and with students who seek courses in religion to help them frame and interrogate issues provoked in other academic areas. Students who double major in religion or choose religion as a minor area of study also benefit from the diversity of religious studies course offerings and its faculty.
Introductory courses are broad in scope, even as they seek to be selective enough to allow an in-depth encounter with source documents situated within their historical, literary, and social contexts. Seminars may take up an issue or theme and allow for a concentrated reading and pursuit of focused critical questions and issues. Methods of instruction include not only lectures and small group discussion, but also opportunities for independent study and research, one-on-one engagement with faculty, and site-specific projects in the Twin Cities and beyond. Course offerings span across American religions in the U.S., including Judaism and Asian-American religion, Buddhism in India, China, and Japan; Christianity from its beginnings through modern Europe and the contemporary period; religions of South and Southeast Asia, feminist and gender studies, critical studies, and textual interpretation.