Professors Frank, Hucks, Kepnes, Martin, Sindima, Vecsey (Chair)
Associate Professors Cushing
Assistant Professors Jassal, Reinbold, Spevack, Sullivan
Visiting Professor Ejizu
Visiting Assistant Professors Eisenstat, Topal
Senior Lecturer Stahlberg
The Department of Religion at Colgate offers a program of study that challenges students to explore the role of religion across cultures and historical periods, and to think critically about the nature and expression of religiousness. Religion courses offer training in a unique combination of skills, including close textual analysis, direct observation, critical thinking, and cross-cultural understanding.
The department offers a variety of courses regarding diverse African, Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Islamic, Jewish, and Native American traditions and scriptures. In addition to courses focused on particular traditions, the department also offers courses on the relationship between religion and issues of historic and contemporary importance, such as the environment, terrorism, medicine, gender, and the law.
The study of religion is necessarily interdisciplinary, making reflective use of the full variety of liberal arts methods. In addition, it engages related issues in philosophy, ethics, society, spirituality, science, gender, sexuality, arts, and politics. Thus, a major or minor in religion may serve as a natural complement to other majors. Students in the arts and humanities, for instance, will find that the study of religious texts and worlds affords them greater insight into literature and visual art. Some students may seek to make stronger interdisciplinary connections. In consultation with an adviser, students may elect to create a track through the religion major or minor that brings their work in religion into dialogue with their work in other departments or programs. Possible tracks include:
Religion, Politics, and Law
The department offers courses that examine the intersection of religion and politics, past and present, explore the legal frameworks of a variety of religious traditions, and ask students to think about the role of ethics and morality in public life. Students interested in history, international relations, peace and conflict studies, or political science will find that a minor or second major in religion allows them a better understanding of many of the longstanding ideological conflicts that have shaped the contemporary world.
Religion and Health
Students interested in the natural sciences who intend to enter the fields of medicine and health sciences will find that courses in religion equip them to evaluate the moral complexity of current scientific advances. A host of religion courses probe questions that are central to medicine and health: questions of body and soul, psychic states and mindfulness, sex and sexuality, life and death. These are treated in a variety of religious traditions, offering the pre-med student a comparative approach to health and healing.
The success of our graduates indicates that a major in religion provides excellent preparation for a number of careers, including education, government, journalism, finance, law, social work, and professional service in non-profit organizations and religious institutions.
The M. Holmes Hartshorne Memorial Awards for Excellence — established as an award for students who, in the judgment of the department, have performed exceptional work in philosophy and/or religion.
The M. Holmes Hartshorne Memorial Award for Postgraduate Study in Philosophy and/or Religion — established as an award for a graduating senior, for achievement in the study of philosophy and/or religion and, depending on financial need, to assist the recipient with postgraduate study in philosophy, religion, or philosophy and religion at a recognized graduate or divinity school.
The Raphael Lemkin Prize — established to honor the memory of Raphael Lemkin (1901–1959), survivor of the Holocaust and professor on international law, who first coined the word “genocide” and who inspired the United Nations’ Convention on Genocide. Awarded for the best essay dealing with an issue, principle, or concept related to Dr. Lemkin’s concerns and reflecting his ideals, as determined by the chair of the department and/or the chair’s appointed committee of three faculty members. All prize participants must read the biography of Raphael Lemkin provided to them by the department.
The Robinson Essay Prize — established in honor of Joseph Robinson and awarded on the basis of an essay written for a 200- or 300-level course in the department during the previous spring or fall semesters.
Advanced Placement cannot be presumed since examinations in this area are not given
Transfer credit for graduation requirements may be awarded by the registrar. Transfer of credit toward major or minor requirements requires prior written permission from both the registrar and the department. Normally no more than two transfer credits may count toward major or minor requirements. Seminar credit is not transferable.
All candidates for honors in religion and those majors in philosophy and religion who wish to write on a religious theme are required to take an advanced course in religion in the fall of the senior year. At the end of the course, the faculty member may recommend that a student’s paper be reworked into an honors thesis.
In the spring of the senior year, candidates for honors normally take an independent study (RELG 490 ) with their honors adviser. The honors thesis — a substantial piece of research, analysis, or critique — is turned in to the adviser several weeks before the end of the term. If the adviser decides that the thesis can stand for honors, the honors candidate meets during exam week with his or her adviser and two other faculty readers and fields questions: the honors defense. Ideally the question and answer session becomes a forum for intellectual exchange between the student writer and the faculty readers. A student is awarded honors on the basis of both the quality of the written thesis and the conduct of the honors defense. No student can be awarded honors, however, who does not have at least a GPA of 3.40 in his or her major.
During the spring semester the Department of Religion, in conjunction with the Department of Philosophy, offers a study group at the University of St. Andrews, Scotland’s first university, founded in 1413. Other than the director’s course, which is taught by a Colgate faculty member, students take courses of their choice from among those offered by the University of St. Andrews, at which they are enrolled for the semester. The department has also organized extended study in Israel. For more information see Off-Campus Study and Extended Study .
Majors and MinorsMajorMinor
- RELG 101 - The World’s Religions
- RELG 102 - Religion and the Contemporary World
- RELG 203 - Comparative Religious Ethics
- RELG 204 - Hindu Mythology
- RELG 207 - Chinese Ways of Thought
- RELG 208 - The Hebrew Bible in America
- RELG 209 - Jesus and Justice: Ancient and Modern Debates
- RELG 213 - The Bible as/and Literature
- RELG 214 - Introduction to the Qur’an
- RELG 216 - Life of Muhammad
- RELG 222 - Comparative Scripture
- RELG 226 - Reason, Religion, and God
- RELG 228 - Jerusalem: City of Gods
- RELG 230 - Feasting and Fasting: Religion and Food
- RELG 232 - Health and Healing in Asian Religions
- RELG 234 - Women and Religious Traditions
- RELG 235 - Religion, War, Peace, and Reconciliation
- RELG 236 - Religion, Science, and the Environment
- RELG 240 - Religion and Terrorism
- RELG 244 - African American Religious Experience
- RELG 245 - Religion in Contemporary America
- RELG 247 - Death and Afterlife
- RELG 248 - Christianity, Islam, and Political Change in Africa
- RELG 251 - Faith after the Holocaust
- RELG 253 - Sex, Love, and God: Religion and Queer Studies
- RELG 255 - Church, State, and Law in America
- RELG 265 - Global Bioethics and Religion
- RELG 276 - Psychology of Religion
- RELG 281 - Experiencing Hinduism
- RELG 282 - Experiencing Islam
- RELG 283 - Experiencing Judaism
- RELG 284 - Christian Traditions
- RELG 285 - Buddhism Traditions
- RELG 286 - Catholic Traditions
- RELG 287 - Protestant Traditions: Revolutions and Reformations
- RELG 288 - American Indian Religions
- RELG 289 - African Religious Traditions
- RELG 291 - Independent Study
- RELG 295 - Tibetan Buddhism
- RELG 306 - Dying for God: Martyrdom and Noble Death in Judaism and Christianity
- RELG 308 - End of the World: Apocalyptic Thought and Movements in Historical Perspective
- RELG 309 - Religion and Medical Practice
- RELG 310 - Sharia Law
- RELG 313 - The “Word” in the World: The Bible in Global Perspective
- RELG 320 - Native Peoples and Modern Law
- RELG 321 - Religion in Modern India
- RELG 329 - Global Islam in the Modern World
- RELG 331 - The Problem of Evil
- RELG 332 - Contemporary Religious Thought
- RELG 335 - Religion in the Genetic Age
- RELG 336 - Religion and Capitalism
- RELG 337 - Islamic Mysticism
- RELG 338 - Sex, Law, and the American Culture Wars
- RELG 339 - Modern Jewish Philosophy
- RELG 342 - Our Secular Age
- RELG 343 - Gender and Judaism
- RELG 346 - Cognitive Science of Religion
- RELG 352 - Theory and Method in the Study of Religion
- RELG 391 - Independent Study
- RELG 411 - Senior Seminar in Religion
- RELG 415 - Advanced Topics in Religion
- RELG 490 - Special Studies for Honors
- RELG 491 - Independent Study