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Religious Studies

Religious Studies: Major, Minor

Religion has been and remains a fundamental dimension of human existence and, for that reason alone, deserves to be studied. Through the religious studies department, students examine the beliefs, practices, rituals, spirituality, and moral values of major world religions, developing an understanding of religious and cultural pluralism.

Because the field of religious studies is multidimensional, the program acquaints students with the diverse aspects of the phenomenon of religion. Students explore a wide range of religious traditions, theological perspectives, and ethical questions that are central in the formation of religious identity. At the same time they develop a habit of thinking that is interdisciplinary, critical and analytical.

Since Holy Cross is a Jesuit and Catholic college and the majority of its students come from the Roman Catholic tradition, the department offers a wide variety of courses that will enable them to know and understand their Catholic tradition more deeply and to situate that tradition in the larger context of the other world religions.

Courses exploring religion in the broader cultural context of the 21st century can also be important for students from other religious traditions. They too must come to terms with pluralism and globalization in a multicultural world and think about the role that religion can play in the quest for coexistence and peace. Majors and minors can learn about a full range of world religions, including Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, East Asian religions, Native American religion, and modern religious movements. Religious studies faculty follow a variety of methodologies appropriate to the study of religion and theology. Thus the department offers a wide range of learning opportunities both to meet the interests of those who want to explore their own faith and for those who wish to broaden their knowledge of and perspective on the religious experience of people around the globe.

Program Highlights

The robust offerings of the religious studies department include courses on:
  • World religions
  • Sacred texts
  • Theology
  • Ethics
  • Spirituality
Academically outstanding majors are invited to join Theta Alpha Kappa, the national honor society for religious studies.
The department annually confers two awards to academically accomplished fourth-year students.
A popular religious studies course on Harry Potter has generated national media coverage.

Religious Studies News

Joanne Pierce, professor of religious studies. Photo by Rob Carlin

Holy Cross Professor Writes on Heaven in Christian Thought

Jul 19, 2018

The belief in an afterlife is an important part of the Christian tradition. And unsurprisingly, there are many competing images of what that would look like and who would be allowed in. In an article for The Conversation, Joanne Pierce, …