Division of Social Studies



Religious ideas and practices have been crucial in shaping distinctive human societies throughout history, and they continue to exercise critical influence in the world of the 21st century. We study the various phenomena we call “religion” for many reasons: for their intrinsic interest; to understand how particular religious expressions may reinforce or challenge their own social and historical settings; and to consider how they may also challenge our own understandings of the world. At Bard, religion offerings are organized within three primary approaches to the study of religious phenomena: interpretive, historical, and theoretical. (For detailed descriptions of these categories, see the Religion Program website.)


Students wishing to moderate into the Religion Program should, by the semester of Moderation, complete four religion courses, with at least one course in each of the three approaches mentioned above. Students considering the religion major are strongly encouraged to explore several of the five religious traditions of the world offered in the Bard curriculum: Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, and Judaism.

Graduation requirements in religion include at least eight courses in the Religion Program, in addition to the Senior Project and the Religion Colloquium. Majors are encouraged as well to take courses relevant to the study of religion offered by other programs, such as anthropology, sociology, psychology, theology, literature, historical studies, philosophy, gender and sexuality studies, and others. Courses outside the program that centrally involve religious issues or texts may, in consultation with the adviser, be counted as religion courses. Two courses are required for all moderands: Sacred Pursuits (Religion 269) and Religion Colloquium.

Students are expected to study a language relevant to the particular religion or area of study upon which they intend to focus for their Senior Project. Relevant languages taught at Bard include Arabic, Chinese, Greek, Hebrew, Japanese, Latin, and Sanskrit.

The Senior Project in the Religion Program will ideally be the culmination of the student’s investigation of religion at Bard and should reflect a sustained analysis of a carefully defined topic in the critical study of religion.

Recent Senior Projects in Religion

  • “Locating Nepali History in the Last Asal Hindustan”
  • “Patriarchy and the Power of Myth: Exploring the Significance of a Matriarchal Prehistory”
  • “Sangha and State: An Examination of Sinhalese-Buddhist Nationalism in Postcolonial Sri Lanka”
  • “Seeds and the Sacred: The Role of Ritual and Myth in Pawnee Agriculture”