Welcome from the Chair of the Department of Religious Studies,
Dr. Charles Kimball
Religion is a major force around the world and one of the few universals of human culture. The importance of understanding its historical, social, political, intellectual, and artistic influence is self-evident. The Religious Studies Department at OU provides undergraduate students with a broad curriculum of study on the diverse expressions of religion. Students learn both about major religious traditions and the different approaches to understanding religion. The department, which draws courses from approximately thirty-five faculty members in departments and colleges all across OU, is interdisciplinary, comparative, and global in scope. In this website we provide information about degree requirements, course offerings, faculty, scholarships, special events, and student functions.
The study of religion at OU is not intended to promote or critique any particular religious faith. Nor does it seek to encourage or discourage religious practice or expression. More broadly, by providing a greater understanding of religion in its pluralistic expressions the Religious Studies Department will promote a more informed citizenry. The relationship of religion to other societal, cultural, and political activity means that the study of religion informs the understanding of all human activity. The Religious Studies Department works closely with the university's International Programs office, the College of International and Area Studies, and the College of Arts & Sciences to identify and/or coordinate study abroad experiences for our students.
The curriculum involves a two-pronged academic exploration of 1) different religious traditions (e.g., Native American, African, and other indigenous traditions, Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Baha'i, etc.); and 2) different approaches to the study of religion (historical, social, political, intellectual, philosophical, scientific, & literary). This will prepare future journalists, teachers, lawyers, doctors, and business leaders to operate in the complex religious milieu of the coming decades. Within the major, students complete two introductory courses, choose three religious traditions from three distinct cultures, and choose elective courses in religion and literature/the arts, religion, and social organization/politics, religion and history, and religion and philosophy. Travel abroad is also available to meet the requirements of the elective category. Students use their electives to craft a concentration or specialization in preparation for graduate or professional schools. Students complete the senior seminar called Capstone their senior year, to bring together the methodologies, theories, and approaches the students have acquired through the student's course of study.
Department of Religious Studies Mission Statement
Religious Studies is an interdisciplinary field devoted to the academic study of religion. The mission of OU's Department of Religious Studies is educational, to equip students with the knowledge to function in the diverse and complex global environment of the 21st Century. The department observes and examines religion in its many expressions. The centerpiece of the department is a curriculum that not only enables undergraduate students to major or minor in Religious Studies but also to combine the RELS curriculum with other OU programs for the best possible preparation for a career, professional, or graduate school in a range of fields.