Religion is a dynamic and powerful force in shaping cultures and complex civilizations, so understanding religion is critical for many areas of study from art, literature, and music to history, politics, and public health. Studying religion is exciting and demanding. The history of religions is global in scope and invites us to study the languages and cultures of the world. The currents of religion today are swift and often turbulent and require the very best analysis of scholars in the humanities and social sciences.
- For undergraduates, we offer an array of courses introducing the Study of Religion. These lead to more specialized work in areas of the students’ own interests.
- For graduate students, the Committee on the Study of Religion offers the Ph.D. in a range of specialized areas. All graduate students take two common seminars, one on the history of “religion” as a subject of critical inquiry and one on contemporary conversations in the discipline of religious studies. As they move on to more specialized work, we expect our graduate students to continue thinking about how their areas of research contribute broadly to knowledge in the field.
Harvard’s programs in religious studies are distinctive for the intensive study of historical religious traditions and the insistence that such study is always, in some sense, comparative. Religious traditions have not developed in isolation, but in constant interaction with each other and in ever-new contexts.