Mission Statement

How can people on both sides of a conflict claim that God is on their side? Why do some faith communities affirm women in leadership positions while others do not? How can someone claim faith in a particular religious tradition while also valuing the traditions of another? Through questions like these, courses in the study of religion prepare students for lives of deep reflection and civic engagement by inviting them to think critically about the role that religious ideas, literatures, rituals, institutions, and values play in shaping individuals and societies both historically and in the contemporary world.

The study of religion at Luther College seeks to be interdisciplinary, intercultural, and transformative. It is interdisciplinary in that religion courses draw on a wide array of perspectives from fields like history, literature, the social sciences, and philosophy to make sense of the role religion plays in the world, helping students to integrate and synthesize learning from their other courses. It is intercultural in that students engage religious faith and practice in a global context, empowering them to move beyond a concern for immediate interests into a greater awareness of their place in a complex and ever-changing world. It is transformative by raising critical questions about fundamental aspects of religious faith and practice in order to expand students' understandings of both self and others, leading to a life of purposeful service in the world.

The study of religion provides a strong complement to programs of study in business, international studies, law, library science, literature, medicine, music, political science, and psychology, while also forming a foundation for careers in ordained and lay ministry, social service, volunteer service, and social advocacy. Many of our majors and minors pursue graduate study in theology and religious studies.

Goals of a major or minor in religion:

  1. To study religions as cultural constructions shaped by historical, social, and political dynamics.
  2. To analyze the nature, development, and ongoing interpretation of foundational religious narratives in the form of literary or non-literary texts.
  3. To examine the history, formation, and contemporary expressions of particular religious traditions or subtraditions.
  4. To think ethically about the engagement of religious communities and worldviews with contemporary issues of public concern.
  5. To explore how religious communities, worldviews, and practices are impacted by encounters with other communities, worldviews, and practices.
  6. To cultivate understanding of and appreciation for the diversity within and among religious traditions.
  7. To employ different paradigms, methods, and approaches that scholars use to study religious communities, worldviews, and practices.
  8. To reflect on whether and how religion shapes one’s sense of self, faith, vocation, and responsible citizenship.
  9. To develop skills in critical thinking, such as the ability to analyze, synthesize, and evaluate ideas.
  10. To develop skills in communicating ideas with clarity and coherence.