Studying religion allows one to explore the ways in which people from across time and cultures have conceived of the world, including the nature of the universe, the relationship and responsibilities of humans to each other and to the natural world, the movement of forces beyond immediate and physical apprehension, and the ultimate destiny of humanity. The study of religion allows one to approach these questions from a number of different perspectives, including history, literature, philosophy, art and archaeology, anthropology, and sociology.  By examining the dynamics of religious expression, one is inquiring into the nature of the sacred, the history of culture, and the way people live in and engage with the world today.

Students majoring and minoring in Religion at Coe choose from a variety of classes that are designed to immerse students in the religious traditions of the world, from courses in Jewish and Christian scriptures to Buddhist thought and Religion in America today. Students have the ability to personalize their programs to reflect their individual intellectual pursuits. Opportunities are available for students to engage in advanced research, to study abroad, and to pursue language study. All religion classes at Coe provide the opportunity for students to work on critical thinking skills essential to the world today such as the ability to analyze and interpret a text, to build a persuasive intellectual argument, to support ones own ideas and conceptions, to express oneself orally and in writing, to analyze a complex problem and break it down into its component parts, and many others.

The small class sizes and engaged professors allow students opportunities to develop and grow over the course of their time at Coe, and students of Religion often come together for informal gatherings, lectures and seminars. Whether you choose to take one Religion class or to pursue a major or minor, you will be joining a community of students and professors committed to the study of religion and to the intellectual opportunities it offers.

Why Study Religion at Coe?

“When one studies religion, one is also studying the world's history. Religion has accompanied humankind from the dawn of history to contemporary times in one way or another, and by studying it you find the motivations for much of the world's events in the past 10,000 years.” - Rachel Tingley '13

“I study religion because I love learning about how it's more than just an institution--real religion is about more than that. It's a history of people, it's the beliefs that come out of that history, it's the practices that come from those beliefs, and it's a basis for how people live. How is that not interesting?” - Christey Sharpshair '13

“My main reasons for studying religion would be

  1. to understand why religion has caused people to do specific things - such as war, protest, love, predict the end of the world, etc.
  2. to learn how to properly interpret scriptures, not only Christian, but all scripture.”

- Isaac Fox-Poulsen '12

“The diversity of the students who take religion classes makes the whole department stronger. Everyone has different backgrounds and perspectives, and that makes class discussions educational on many levels. Studying religion, either at Coe or anywhere, is an eye-opening experience. The study of religion helps you understand not only other cultures but also the people who live next door to you or in the dorm across campus.” - Kristine Gift '13

“To hone your ability to analyze a text and defend claims about it and to broaden your cultural horizons and further appreciate the diversity within the world's schools of thought.” - Katie Weingardt '13

  1. “The Coe Religion Department offers you the chance to do research!
  2. The faculty are very knowledgeable and fun to work with.
  3. The department offers you the opportunity to do an independent study on topics that are personally interesting to you.”
- Noël Rozum '11