Religions address some of the most interesting and compelling questions in human life:
- What is the nature of the world, of time and reality?
- What is the true nature of human beings?
- Why are we here, and how should we then live?
- Who are we as a people, and who do we want to be?
The study of religion explores human understandings of these key issues from diverse places and cultures as they develop across changing circumstances and in encounter with each other. A key feature of the identities of individuals and communities, religions have tremendous power and impact on our personal lives and our local, national and global communities. With their divergent worldviews, moral codes, and conceptions of the life’s meaning and purpose and the crucial roles religion plays in history, politics, law, the arts and so much more, understanding religion and developing interreligious literacy is an essential requirement for living productive and ethical lives as global citizens in our world today.
The Religious Studies Department at Chapman University offers courses that are global in scope and cover a broad range of religious traditions and contemporary ethical issues. Courses explore not only diverse understandings of the nature of reality, the meaning of life and death, and the relationship of faith and reason but also how we might address contemporary challenges of social justice, war and peace, the environmental crisis, medical ethics, human rights and globalization. The study of religion is necessarily interdisciplinary, employing methods from textual studies and archeology to philosophy, history, politics, anthropology, sociology, economics, literary theory, and more, to analyze religious phenomena, ideas, practices and texts. In this global and interdisciplinary study of the religions of the world, the department reflects the broad ecumenical and pluralistic interest of the Disciples of Christ, the founding denomination of the university.
A religious studies major is excellent preparation for graduate studies in a variety of fields, with religious studies majors consistently scoring among the highest on the analytic sections of graduate entrance exams like the GRE and LSAT. Our graduates have embarked on such careers as teaching, research, ministry, medicine, law, government, business, and journalism. Whatever your future holds, knowledge of religion will enhance your understanding of contemporary politics, history, art, culture, and so much more. And whether you become a health professional or a teacher, a lawyer or a psychologist, an international business person or a politician, interreligious literacy will be an invaluable asset to you and to your future employers.