Religious Studies is an academic discipline that explores one of the most engaging, enigmatic, and intellectually challenging aspects of human life. Students of religion explore issues that shape major events as well as everyday life across the globe:
- What does it mean to be human?
- How does one lead a good life?
- Is there an ultimate reality and, if so, how can it be known?
- What do other cultures believe to be true?
Pursuing these compelling questions, and understanding the answers found in the great traditions of the world, is what Religious Studies is all about.
At the heart of the Department of Religious Studies is a committed faculty of teacher-scholars - Catholic theologians, scripture specialists, and scholars of Judaism, Asian religions, and Islam - who approach their specialties from a variety of perspectives. One class may explore Buddhist meditational techniques, another may consider how contemporary theologians have attempted to re-imagine God in relevant ways, another may examine the rise of "New Age" religion, and still another may compare classical and modern forms of Islamic practice.
Majors and minors interact closely with faculty members in the department, both in coursework as well as through independent projects or internships. The atmosphere is collegial; all voices are welcome at gatherings for pizza and seminar discussions. Our strongest students are inducted into Theta Alpha Kappa, a national honor society, and, at the College of Arts and Sciences award banquet each spring, an outstanding graduating senior in Religious Studies is awarded the Irene Gallagher Medal, Fairfield University's oldest academic honor.
Our students come to Fairfield with a wide variety of religious and cultural backgrounds, and are challenged to engage in a scholarly conversation about many different religious symbols, texts, gestures, and claims. Religious insight has inspired art and literature, sculpted cultural values and politics, sent countless people to the battlefield - and provided direction, vision, and meaning to individuals and communities for millennia. Our graduates - whether in education or business, law or social services - find that an informed perspective about religion provides a valuable perspective for the kind of critical and empathetic global engagement that is the hallmark of a Fairfield education.