How We Teach

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.

In the following pages, you can find out more about RELS Learning Goals & Outcomes and our Committment to Marginalized Communities.