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Learn how people make meaning.

Whitman College is an ideal place to explore religion and the way it filters into every aspect of life. Your coursework will push you to be a flexible thinker as you explore the diverse ways people worldwide make meaning of their lives. In Whitman’s tight-knit Religion Department, you’ll benefit from professors and peers who will challenge and support you. With the skills you develop in critical thinking, communication, and collaboration, you’ll be able to thoughtfully dive into today’s problems with an essential understanding of the value systems underpinning our world.

3 Reasons to Study Religion at Whitman

You Will Never Be Bored

Religion affects everything from race and gender to politics and death. So Religion majors are in for an exciting ride. Want to learn how religion and race intersect? How about the religiousness of food—or the Kardashians? What even is religion? If topics like these fascinate you, this major is for you.

Religion Really Matters

Our beliefs and values drive how we act, so it’s important to study world religions if we want to understand why people do what they do. Whitman’s Religion major emphasizes perspectives from around the globe, and our classes don’t shy away from deep discussions of access, difference and oppression.

Get Ready for Anything

Our classes in religious studies prepare your brain to adapt quickly. From listening to recorded recitations of the Qur’an to reading transcribed interviews of Buddhist monks to comparing representations of religion in Bollywood films, the Religion major will hone your ability to think critically about diverse phenomena.

Interested in Religion?

We’d love to send you information, including more on academic majors and student life at our beautiful campus in Walla Walla, Washington.

Kate J., religion major

Religion is like an amalgamation of history, global studies, philosophy, psychology, politics, sociology, somatics, and anthropology but [through] the lens of the most fundamental questions of human existence: Who are we? Why are we here? What do we believe in?”

Our Whitman Student Voices Blog

Courses in Religion

See just a few of the fascinating courses you might take.

REL 110

Religion and the Senses

What does a decomposing saint smell like? How does hearing bells affect worshippers? Religion can be seen, tasted, heard, touched and smelled. Learn about religious experience around the world from the perspective of all five senses in this popular course.

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Religious statues.
REL 203

What Is Religion?

There are seemingly infinite ways of defining religion. But where does the concept even come from? And why does it still matter in the 21st century? Get ready to have your whole idea of religion turned on its head! It’s a required course for Religion majors but potentially mind-blowing for students from all disciplines.

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REL 223

Religion and the Spirit of Capitalism

Global capitalism reaches into every corner of human life, including religion. This course asks: Did religion sow the seeds of capitalism? And how might religious traditions and practices be used to reimagine the culture it created?

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REL 225

Global Christianity

How did an ancient Mediterranean religion spread throughout the modern world? And how have the diverse cultures of the world interpreted and influenced it? This course weaves together anthropology, history, theology and literature to explore how Christianity has both shaped and been shaped by its global encounters.

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REL 304

Muslim Bodies

This upper-level course explores the role of the body in the religious traditions of Islam. You’ll think deeply about how factors such as race, disability, gender, sexuality and fashion affect the everyday religious experiences of Muslims.

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REL 303

Religion and Gender in Global Context

If you're curious about why women's bodies have become such charged sites for religious debate, don't miss this course. You'll take a look at religion through a feminist lens, especially as it informs discussions about moral agency, freedom and public/private space.

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Amazing Experiences You Can Pursue

Double down. Enrich your exploration of religion with on-the-ground global experience. For example, with the Religion+French combined major, you can take on a religion-focused internship or pursue off-campus religious studies in a French-speaking country. 

Conduct original research. With a senior thesis, you can do a deep dive into the topics that interest you. Recent Religion majors have explored depictions of the devil in American horror films, Judaism in hip hop, the Catholic sexual abuse crisis and the culture of preservation in Hmong funerals.

Your Questions Answered

Studying Religion in an academic setting helps you understand world views beyond your own. By exploring humanity’s search for meaning, you’ll be able to place human history, culture and politics into a wider context. And whatever path you pursue after graduation, having a better understanding of the world and the diverse beliefs of the people in it will better prepare you to make meaningful connections.

Religion majors are flexible thinkers who often go on to high-impact jobs in law, nonprofit work, teaching and research. Through religious studies, you’ll develop skills in precise and independent research, sophisticated questioning, and exceptionally clear written and spoken communication. So a bachelor’s in Religion can help prepare you for almost any path you choose after graduation.

Absolutely! Religion is a rigorous and well-rounded program that enables you to practice the research and analytical skills you’ll need for an advanced degree. As a Religion major, you might research alongside professors, present at conferences and even publish as an undergraduate, as well as participate in valuable learning opportunities in the community. Students in Religion can successfully go on to graduate school in a wide variety of fields, including religion, art and law.

Not at all! In a religious studies program, people of all backgrounds are welcome. You will study religious traditions from an academic perspective. The goal isn’t to indoctrinate you into—or dissuade you from—any particular belief system, but to enrich your understanding of the wide variety and impact of religious expression in the world.

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