- <a href="/live/image/gid/82/width/650/86495_Religious_Studies_main_image.jpg" class="lw_preview_image lw_disable_preview" tabindex="-1"><picture class="lw_image lw_image86495"> <source type="image/jpeg" media="(max-width: 500px)" srcset="/live/image/gid/82/width/500/height/479/crop/1/86495_Religious_Studies_main_image.rev.1607650766.jpg 1x, /live/image/scale/2x/gid/82/width/500/height/479/crop/1/86495_Religious_Studies_main_image.rev.1607650766.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/82/width/500/height/479/crop/1/86495_Religious_Studies_main_image.rev.1607650766.jpg 3x"/> <source type="image/jpeg" media="(min-width: 501px)" srcset="/live/image/gid/82/width/720/height/690/crop/1/86495_Religious_Studies_main_image.rev.1607650766.jpg 1x, /live/image/scale/2x/gid/82/width/720/height/690/crop/1/86495_Religious_Studies_main_image.rev.1607650766.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/82/width/720/height/690/crop/1/86495_Religious_Studies_main_image.rev.1607650766.jpg 3x"/> <img src="/live/image/gid/82/width/720/height/690/crop/1/86495_Religious_Studies_main_image.rev.1607650766.jpg" alt="Yes, the department hosts an annual cake-off competition! " width="720" height="690" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/82/width/720/height/690/crop/1/86495_Religious_Studies_main_image.rev.1607650766.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/82/width/720/height/690/crop/1/86495_Religious_Studies_main_image.rev.1607650766.jpg 3x" data-max-w="3200" data-max-h="3066" loading="lazy"/> </picture> </a><div class="hero-split_image_caption collapsable-caption"> Yes, the department hosts an annual cake-off competition! </div>
We offer students an opportunity to explore one of the most pervasive, complicated, and easily misunderstood aspects of human societies. By nature an interdisciplinary program, religious studies connects students to the many intellectual facets of a liberal arts education and prepares them for the complex—and highly religious—world beyond graduation.
Why Choose a Degree in Religious Studies?
The study of religion is a lens onto human history and culture, social grouping and grappling, gender roles and relations, and human motivations for good, ill, and everything in between. Completing a religious studies major will provide you with the flexible skills needed in today’s dynamic job market, including critical thinking, sensitivity to diverse backgrounds and ways of seeing the world, and effective communication in an array of mediums.
What You’ll Study
We immerse our students in the details of beliefs and practices of many different religious traditions, in historical and current theories and methods for analyzing religion, and in the self-reflective project of exploring the frames of reference we use to understand the world around us. Our curriculum ranges across four areas: Jewish and Christian origins, the religious traditions of Western civilization (including the United States), religious traditions of Asia, and the religious traditions of Islam. Within each area, we explore such issues as the nature and social context of religious texts; the development of religious doctrines in situations of both cooperation and contestation; the dynamic relations among religious, political, economic, and cultural life; the role of religion in constructions of gender, race, and class; and patterns of change within religious communities. We also investigate the very idea of religion and the varied ways people—religious practitioners as well as secular scholars—have sought to understand this category of human thought and action. Our faculty work closely with each student to hone their skills in careful and critical thinking, reading, writing, and speaking, and we offer ample opportunities for faculty-guided original student research into pressing historical and contemporary questions.
Many of our students earn course credit while on an overseas program. In addition to general cultural programs that are open to all students, the Greece, India, and Morocco programs offer opportunities to study various religious traditions and communities in their living contexts.
Outside the classroom, we regularly host guest speakers and presentations of ongoing faculty research. Our majors have presented papers at an annual undergraduate research conference hosted by Oregon State University, and they have also submitted work to the undergraduate research paper competition and the Pacific Northwest American Academy of Religion conference. Building on their coursework, our students often participate in Lewis & Clark’s many symposia, such as the Gender Studies Symposium, the Middle East and North African Studies Symposium, and the Ray Warren Symposium on Race and Ethnic Studies. We also hold an annual Religious Studies Cake-Off event for which students construct religion-themed cakes to be judged on their originality, insight, and aesthetic appeal by department faculty. Examples include “Iconography/Aniconism in Greek Orthodox Christianity,” “UFO Religions,” “The 10 Biblical Plagues,” and “The Burning House of Samsara.”
Complement Your Education With One of These Minors
What Students Are Saying About Lewis & Clark
What Can You Do With a Degree in Religious Studies?
Our alumni use their BA in religious studies to pursue a wide range of careers in academia; at nonprofits; at theological, religious, and spiritual organizations; and beyond. While some students pursue an advanced degree in religious studies, many of our alumni apply their critical thinking, research, writing, and discussion skills to goals in other fields.
Our expert professors are your expert mentors. You will learn directly from faculty (no graduate assistants here!) that are nationally recognized in their fields of study and who love to work with and learn from their students. Your professors will inspire you to be a thoughtful and passionate participant in a diverse world. Your small classes will support you as you explore new ideas, find your voice, and speak your truth.
Invest in Yourself
A private liberal arts education is often more affordable than you think. Last year, Lewis & Clark distributed over $74 million in assistance from institutional, federal, state, and private sources. Additionally, we’re so confident that our first-year students will graduate with their bachelor of arts degree in four years that if you don’t, we’ll cover the extra semester of tuition.
Find Your People
Students can join a variety of active student-run spiritual organizations, including Earth-Based Paganism and Spirituality Club, Hillel, Muslim Student Association, and Spiritual Que(e)ry. Don’t see what you’re looking for on the club list? Start something new and build your own community of peers!