Religious studies encompasses historical, literary, social, and scientific approaches to the study of religion. It explores the nature of religion as a system of human thought and practice, the ways in which religions influence human identity and culture, and developments within religious traditions. The academic discipline of religious studies seeks neither to make students religious nor to discourage religious beliefs and practice; rather, religious studies focuses on understanding religion as a dimension of human identity and culture.
Students earning degrees in Religious Studies will investigate the interaction of religious beliefs and practices with the world's political, social, cultural, and economic developments. They can explore the ritual and symbolic aspects of religion, investigate the formation of the world's major religions, and examine religion's socio-political characteristics. Still other courses look at religious ideas in their historical contexts or investigate the various approaches to the study of religion.