Learn about our department’s approach to teaching religious studies.
The Religious Studies courses at Occidental all share some common intellectual commitments:
- RELS courses emphasize the everyday, material, messy, sometimes banal lived experiences of religious people;
- RELS courses emphasize the *varieties* of views and practices within religious communities;
- RELS courses give students a window into religious communities through primary sources, including textual sources, as well as material evidence, visual evidence, rituals, music, monuments, etc.;
- RELS courses regard the religiosity of people as understandable given their context, interests, priorities, hopes, and fears; we encourage students to inquire charitably as to how religion meets peoples' needs and how particular forms of religiosity fit within their given context;
- Even while striving to be charitable, RELS courses also develop critical tools of analysis that help students understand, assess, and form judgments about instances and issues of religiosity;
- RELS courses attempt to reveal the interaction of religious communities with one another and the enmeshment of religious communities within their society; and
- In both structure and content, RELS courses engage in best practices to foster an inclusive and equitable learning environments and to dismantle white supremacy and other structures of inequality.