Division of Social Studies

Religion

Overview
At Bard, the study of religion is undertaken as an interdisciplinary examination of various ways in which religion operates in and affects life. Courses in the program approach religion through multiple questions and perspectives, including the study of scripture, the performance of religion in everyday life, intersections of religion and politics, religion and material culture, and the evolution of concepts like tradition, modernity, and secularism. Moderation in religion equips students in the key methods and approaches in the humanities and social sciences while also familiarizing them with central doctrines, practices, and narratives of major religious traditions.

Requirements
Students are required to take three courses in religion prior to Moderation, and three elective courses in religion thereafter. In total, courses must be taken in at least three of the religious traditions offered in the Bard curriculum: Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, and Judaism. After Moderation, enrollment in Sacred Pursuits is required of juniors, while seniors must enroll in Religion Colloquium both semesters in addition to the Senior Project.

Requirements for concentration in the program include any two courses in religion prior to Moderation, and two elective courses in religion thereafter. In total, courses must be taken in at least two different religious traditions.

Students are encouraged to take courses relevant to the study of religion offered by other programs, such as anthropology, sociology, psychology, theology, literature, historical studies, philosophy, and gender and sexuality studies. Courses outside the program that centrally involve religious issues or texts may, in consultation with the adviser, be counted as religion courses. Students are also 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

  • “From Ritual Purification to Mutilation: A Case Study of Evolving Discourses on Female Circumcision”
  • “Old-Time Quiet in a Breathless Age: Faith, Virtue, and the Strength of the Social Gospel at Trinity-Pawling School”
  • “A Story of Sacred Spaces: Tracing the Development of Early Buddhism through the Practice of Pilgrimage”
  • “Uninhibited: Redefining and Relocating Rudolf Otto’s Dichotomous ‘Holy’”