• A Hartwick student using a microscope for research.
  • A Hartwick student using a microscope in the science lab.
  • A Hartwick professor helping a student during class.
  • Hartwick students giving a presentation in front of the class.

Department Overview

General Description
The world's great religions are centered around the quest to find meaning and purpose in human life. Religious beliefs and practices in various ways address not only what it means to be human, but also concepts such as good and evil, right and wrong, the sacred and the profane. These beliefs and practices provide the elemental forms from which individual societies and cultures take shape. Therefore, knowledge of religion and its various manifestations is indispensable to a study of the diverse social and cultural phenomena we encounter in the world around us.

Hartwick's curriculum covers three general areas.

The first focuses on the Western monotheistic traditions. Various courses in biblical studies take a historical approach by examining the books in terms of the historical and cultural contexts in which they were written. Other courses survey the histories of those religions that have had a notable impact on the West, primarily Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

The second area is religious traditions of the Asian world and indigenous peoples, with a focus on India (Buddhism and Hinduism), forms of Central Asian Shamanism, Tibet, China (Ch'an, Confucianism, Taoism), and Japan (Shinto, Zen). The primary aim is to provide students with fundamental conceptual frameworks for understanding the major non-Western cultures of the world.

The third area deals with recent and contemporary religious expression in the West and includes courses on religion in the United States, new religious movements, and the relationship between religion and other cultural activities, including literature, science, medicine, entertainment, technology, politics, and social change. These courses emphasize historical and social scientific perspectives on religion, particularly as these shed light on problem areas such as church/state relations, cultural diversity, gender relations, controversial groups, biomedical ethics, and the impact of secularization.

What can I do with a Religious Studies degree?
The departmental program offers the breadth and depth of study to prepare students for graduate study and for professional work in a wide variety of fields. A program of courses in religious studies provides valuable preparation for careers in law, medicine, teaching, psychology, journalism, public relations, international relations, community service, and many other professions.