Why Study Religion at K?
Religion is a powerful and dynamic force, influencing our society and world in diverse and complex ways. With small classes, close faculty mentorship, and research opportunities, K is an ideal school to study how religion affects the human experience.
As a religion student, you will learn what it means to define a faith tradition, the history and beliefs of different religious groups, and the methodologies used to study religions. Given how deeply intertwined religion and society are, you will further study how religions reflect, change, and are changed by the economic, cultural, and political contexts in which they are practiced. Through this close examination, you will gain a firm foundation in religious studies: the ability to critically examine sacred texts, research religious influences, and effectively communicate your knowledge to diverse audiences.
You will gain these skills through both tradition- and culture-based courses, such as Religion and Masculinity in the U.S.; Islam in South Asia; Religion, Bollywood, and Beyond; and sex and the Bible.
In tradition-based classes, you will explore the history, texts, and beliefs of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, and Judaism as well as other faiths. Whereas in your culture-based courses, you will dive deep into specific questions and methods, including religion and science, sexuality studies, gender and feminist studies, material culture, transnationalism, and the commodification of religion.
For a comprehensive understanding of religion and religious experiences, you will examine these themes and traditions from multiple angles: theology, history, linguistics, sociology, anthropology, and philosophy.
The critical thinking, communication, and knowledge of religions you will gain during your four years with the department will prepare you for a variety of careers. Notably, alumni have gone on to become religious leaders, scholars, lawyers, counselors, programmers, and business professionals.
What can you do with a Religion degree?
Below are some of the careers, employers, and graduate schools of our religion alumni.
- Social Worker
- Religious Leader
- Big Brothers Big Sisters
- Catholic Charities
- Jewish Family Services
- Harvard University
- University of Chicago
- University of Michigan
- George Washington University
- Western Michigan University
Learn from the experts with personalized mentorship
You will benefit from learning from our stellar faculty, who are all experts in their field and represent the diversity of religious scholarship: historical, textual, and ethnographic studies. While proud of their research, K is a teaching-first institution, and our professors take immense pride in the close mentorship they develop with students. Outside of class, office hours, and advisor meetings, our faculty exemplify this kinship through their annual dinner celebrations for new majors and graduating seniors.
Ask big questions as you pursue your own research
All K students conduct meaningful research for their Senior Integrated Project [SIP]. As a religion student, you have the chance to expand upon the ideas you found most interesting in your classes or start a new line of inquiry into a topic of your choice. However, you are not alone in your research; you will receive one-on-one guidance from a professor and participate in peer workshops throughout your SIP process. In the end, we will celebrate all your hard work at the Religion Department SIP Symposium, where you will present your findings to your professors, classmates, friends, and family.
Take a deep dive into religious studies at the Armstrong and Thompson lectures
The Armstrong and Thompson lectures are each annual events where the College invites leading scholars to present their research to the campus community. These lectures provide you with the opportunity to learn about aspects of religious studies you may not be exposed to in your courses. For example, the 2022 Thompson lecture “Undrinking the Kool-Aid: Mis/remembering Peoples Temple” features Dr. Megan Goodwin sharing her research on cults and bad religion as we explore the popular misremembrances of the so-called Jonestown Massacre.
Meet the Current Departmental Student Advisor
Iris Chalk (She/They)
What is the best thing about being part of this department?
The community-building opportunities that allow for students and professors to get to know each other both inside and outside academic settings.
What is your biggest piece of advice to first-years and sophomores about getting connected to this department?
Go to the lectures and events put on by the religion department! They’re always interesting, fun, and they will give you a chance to get to know the professors and students in the department.
What has been your favorite class at K? Why?
My favorite class I’ve taken at K has been “Religion, Bollywood, and Beyond” because I loved examining religion through the lens of pop culture and realizing how prevalent both are in everyday life.
What is your Senior Integrated Project [SIP]?
For my SIP, I will be examining the relationship between Catholicism and sexuality through the lens of pop culture, including Lady Gaga’s music and the TV show, Fleabag.
What are your career aspirations/next steps after K?
I hope to continue working at “this is a bookstore, Bookbug” in Kalamazoo as well as thinking about divinity school further down the line.