“In fact, if I went back to college today, I think I would probably major in comparative religion because that’s how integrated [religion] is in everything that we are working on and deciding and thinking about in life today.”
-- Secretary of State John Kerry, announcing the Office of Faith-Based Community Initiatives (part of the State Department) at the White House.
The world has transformed dramatically within the last four decades. With the advent of the internet, global climate change, the end of the cold war, and rise of fundamentalisms—with all this, the ways we think about religion too have changed. Especially in the last few decades, events have occurred that have completely repudiated the talk of a few decades ago, that religion as a human phenomenon was destined to be a relic of the past. Not only the events of 9/11, but a resurgence across the globe in an appreciation of religion, both as doctrine and practice, has awakened a recognition of the need to understand this human predilection.
The Department of Religious Studies at the University of Colorado Boulder takes as its mission the goal of understanding this complex phenomenon we call religion. In particular, all of the faculty in Religious Studies in their research and teaching weave in the study of religions with an attention to the complexities of historical context and of our contemporary world. Understanding religious practices and traditions is fundamental to understanding how to live in our brave new world of the 21st century.
At CU-Boulder, students can learn about many of the world's longstanding religious traditions, including Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Judaism, Native and Aboriginal traditions. Students also learn different ways of understanding the phenomenon we call “religion,” and how to think about what drives religion in the human condition.
Student Engagement and Awards
Religious Studies majors at CU are involved with the community, receive high academic honors, and win major campus awards. In 2002, Justin Baker, a religious studies major from Connecticut and founder of Conscious Alliance, a nonprofit dedicated to hunger and poverty awareness, was one of eighteen CU Boulder undergraduates honored with the Van Ek Award, given by the College of Arts and Sciences in recognition of outstanding academic achievement and distinguished service to the University and Boulder communities at large. The Van Ek Award was established in 1973 to honor Jacob Van Ek, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences from 1929-1959. In 2008, senior major Christopher Javornik was honored by the College of Arts and Sciences as its Outstanding Graduate for Fall 2008 Commencement in recognition of highest honors received for his thesis on the Catholic natural law tradition. Several majors have won the Katherine Jacobs Lamont Scholarship, awarded annually by the College to junior majors in any of the humanities fields for high academic achievement and contributions to the Department. Outstanding undergraduate majors are also eligible for election to the University of Colorado Boulder chapter of Theta Alpha Kappa, the National Honor Society for Religious Studies.
Religious studies majors at CU-Boulder have many opportunities for individual research and involvement in the program outside of the classroom. Here are some examples:
- Get Funding for Religious Studies Research! Majors in Religious Studies can apply for individual research grants or assistantships to pursue independent study of a particular area of interest with CU's Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP). Typically a UROP leads to work on an honors thesis. For more info, see About UROP Grants.
- Religious Studies Student Association: Get Connected! Join SOSR, the Student Organization for the Study of Religion. SOSR serves as a voice for the graduate and undergraduate student communities in the department of religious studies and sponsors activities and events throughout the academic year, such as NEXT, a student online journal, and a religion film series. Undergraduate majors are encouraged to get involved. See SOSR’s webpage for more information.
Our graduates go on to many exciting careers, such as teaching at both the high school and college level, advanced graduate study, law school, journalism, and nonprofit and NGO work, and much more. For more information on Department alumni and their accomplishments, see our Alumni News and Events page.
If you have any questions about your study in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Colorado feel free to contact the Director of Undergraduate Studies, Deborah Whitehead. If you have technical questions about fulfilling CU requirements, contact the Advising Center's Advisor for Religious Studies, Allison Frey, at Allison.Frey@Colorado.edu.
For admissions information, including steps for applying, links to the on line applications and the university’s selection process, contact the Office of Admissions.