Religious Studies

Program Overview

Students majoring in Religious Studies at Fairfield University are devoted to the study of religion as a human phenomenon. They explore the philosophy and reasoning behind religion and the beliefs of cultures across the globe. The study is wide-ranging, and includes all actions of religious experience, belief and practice through a multitude of perspectives.

Our committed faculty stands at the heart of the department. They are teachers, theologians, scripture specialists and scholars of the world’s religions, who craft their courses to understand the answers found in its traditions.

The program offers you a wide variety of perspectives and courses concerning world religion. Classes range from contemporary theology to the examination of the rise of “New Age” religions. Collectively, you will receive a comprehensive education that is both broad and deep. You will be challenged in the classroom through conversations and research projects; learn the history of religion and how it has shaped values and politics; and gain an understanding of the impact of different symbols, texts, gestures and claims.

Throughout the program, you will gain an informed perspective of the world’s religions, and you will be able to apply it to fields such as education, law, business and social services.

 

Requirements

Major in Religious Studies

For a 30-credit major in religious studies, students:

  • complete RS 101: Exploring Religion,
  • complete no more than five courses at the intermediate (200) level,
  • complete no fewer than four courses at the advanced (300) level.

In addition, in consultation with the major advisor, students should also

  • ensure that the courses selected at the 200 and 300 level include courses that emphasize three of these five world religions - Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism - and
  • ensure that at least one of the courses selected at the 200 or 300 level is a course on scripture.

Courses taken in fulfillment of the core requirement in Religious Studies are counted toward the major.

Minor in Religious Studies

For a 15-credit minor in religious studies, students:

  • complete RS 101: Exploring Religion,
  • complete no more than three courses at the intermediate (200) level,
  • complete at least one course at the advanced (300) level.

Courses taken in fulfillment of the core requirement in Religious Studies are counted toward the minor.

Learning Outcomes

Graduating Religious Studies Majors should be able to:

  1. Demonstrate knowledge of the beliefs, practices, and texts of more than one major religious tradition.
  2. Understand the diversity and complexity of religious traditions flourishing today.
  3. Comprehend the various ways religious beliefs and practices change in distinct temporal and geographical settings.
  4. Critically analyze significant questions and problems through the careful study of religious intellectual traditions.
  5. Develop scholarly skills to conduct sophisticated research within the discipline.

Graduating Religious Studies minors should be able to:

  1. Demonstrate knowledge of the beliefs, practices, and texts of more than one major religious tradition.
  2. Understand the diversity and complexity of religious traditions flourishing today.
  3. Comprehend the various ways religious beliefs and practices change in distinct temporal and geographical settings.
  4. Critically analyze significant questions and problems through the careful study of religious intellectual traditions.

Course Offerings

See Religious Studies course descriptions from our catalog‌ for more information 

Introductory

  • RS 101: Exploring Religion

RS 101 Subtitles

  • Asian Religions
  • Common Questions, Traditional Responses
  • Peoples of the Book, Sacred Texts and Their Communities
  • Religion and the Critical Mind
  • Religion in a Comparative Key
  • RS 201: Hebrew Bible/Old Testament
  • RS 205: Women in the Bible
  • RS 207: Prophetic and Apocalyptic Voices 
  • RS 209: Jewish Interpretations of Scriptures
  • RS 210: Introduction to Judaism
  • RS 211: History of the Jewish Experience
  • RS 213: Jews and Judaism in America
  • RS 215: Women in Judaism
  • RS 218: Faith After the Holocaust
  • RS 220: The Writings of Paul
  • RS 221: The Good News of the Gospels
  • RS 222: The Writings of John
  • RS 228: Early Christianity
  • RS 230: Introduction to Catholicism
  • RS 231: The Problem of God
  • RS 232: Jesus Christ Yesterday and Today
  • RS 234: The Church
  • RS 235: Liberation Theology 
  • RS 236: Christian Feminist Theology 
  • RS 237: The Sacraments in Christian Life
  • RS 238: Evil
  • RS 239: Last Things: The Catholic Belief in Life After Death
  • RS 240: The Medieval Church
  • RS 241: Encountering God in Medieval Christian Thought
  • RS 242: Voices of Medieval Women: Silent No More
  • RS 244: Finding God in All Things: The Spiritual Legacy of Ignatius of Loyola
  • RS 245: The Reformation Era
  • RS 248: The Catholic Intellectual Tradition
  • RS 249: American Catholic Theologians
  • RS 250: Contemporary Morality: Basic Questions
  • RS 252: Contemporary Moral Problems
  • RS 253: The Morality of Marriage in Christian Perspective
  • RS 255: Catholic Social Teaching
  • RS 257: Christian Spirituality
  • RS 260: Religion in the United States
  • RS 263: New Religious Movements in America
  • RS 267: Mormonism: An American Church
  • RS 270: Introduction to Islam
  • RS 273: Islamic Ethical and Legal Thought
  • RS 275: Islam in America
  • RS 276: Islamic Theology
  • RS 280: Hinduism
  • RS 285: Buddhism
  • RS 286: Buddhism in the United States
  • RS 289: Tantrism
  • RS 299: Special Topics in Religious Studies
  • RS 300: Second Temple Judaism and the Dead Sea Scrolls
  • RS 301: Religious Diversity in Early Judaism and Christianity 
  • RS 315: Jewish Paths to the Sacred
  • RS 320: The Reinterpretation of the New Testament
  • RS 325: The Quest for the Historical Jesus
  • RS 341: Selected Topics in the Catholic Tradition
  • RS 343: The Papacy 
  • RS 350: The Classic: Truth in Religion and the Arts
  • RS 354: Saints and Sinners: Images of Holiness in Contemporary Fiction 
  • RS 360: I'm Spiritual, not Religious: The American Spiritual Tradition
  • RS 363: Religious Values in Film 
  • RS 377: Sufism and Islamic Spirituality 
  • RS 279: Islam, Race, and Power
  • RS 388: Buddhist Spirituality 

Special Seminars

  • RS 398: Independent Study 
  • RS 399: Religious Studies Seminar 

Faculty

‌‌The College of Arts and Sciences at Fairfield University is home to a vibrant community of engaged faculty, dedicated staff and budding scholars devoted to the process of invention and discovery and excited by the prospect of producing knowledge in the service of others. Meet the innovative members of our Religious Studies Department.

Internships

If you've ever wondered if a particular career is a good fit for you, internships are a terrific way to find out. Academic credit and noncredit internships are available to Fairfield students in every field and offer hands-on, professional experience at leading companies throughout the region.

Life After Fairfield

The religious studies major prepares you well for the "real world." After graduation, religious studies majors have all the opportunities available to fellow graduates in the humanities and social sciences. Our graduates become teachers, social workers, go on to law or medical school, into business, or on to graduate study in a variety of fields.

In religious studies, we find that taking the enduring questions seriously means that the real world will take you seriously. Recent graduate stories include:

  • One who completed a master's degree at Yale and now teaches in Baltimore
  • One who graduated Phi Beta Kappa and was offered a full scholarship to law school

Learn more about how the University's Career Planning Center can support your post-graduate goals, and how Fairfield's tight-knit alumni network can build career and mentoring opportunities that last a lifetime.

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