Courses

DESR students are required to take four courses. Three of these comprise the core curriculum, and one is an elective selected from a list of courses offered by the DESR faculty.

Methods in the Study of Religion

Methods in the Study of Religion is an introduction to methodological best practices in the Study of Religion from the perspectives of different fields. It is made up of multiple modules that combine the study of primary sources with exemplary methodological approaches. These approaches include but are not limited to: anthropological theories of religion and society, historical genealogies of categories of religion and the secular, theology and Church history, sociological approaches to issues like religious organization and conflict, religion and science, religious literature and Biblical hermeneutics, as well as particular religious histories.

Histories of the Study of Religion

Histories of the Study of Religion is an introduction to the history and development of the field of “Religious Studies” as an intellectual space for the study of a sometimes historicized, sometimes naturalized phenomenon called “religion.” Since the narration of any history of the study of religion serves to circumscribing a particular set of phenomena as “religious,” this course does not isolate a canonical history of the field. Instead, it progresses in roughly diachronic manner, through a number of thematic threads representing the development of different domains of the study of religion.

Local Approaches to the Study of Religion

Local Approaches to the Study of Religion is intended to create a space for students to reflect on the issues involved in the application of critical and theoretical approaches. This course asks students to consider the opportunities and benefits of two approaches to the beliefs and practices connected with a particular set of traditions: first, as studied in their historical and cultural specificity, versus second, as described as the instantiation of a universal religious phenomenon such as the “sacred” aspect of human experience. The course is intended for students to reflect on the issues involved in the application of critical and theoretical approaches such as the multidisciplinary ones introduced in Methods of the Study of Religion, and the examples from Religious Studies surveyed in Local Approaches to the Study of Religion. Looking closely at a case study of the application of both of these kinds of approaches to a particular subfield prepares the student for the methodological challenges of applying the term “religion” in their own field.

Elective

Additionally, students must complete one elective course from a list of pre-approved graduate courses on religion. In some instances, students may petition for other, relevant courses to be counted towards their elective requirement. If a course is offered for variable units, students must enroll at the maximum possible unit value. Potential elective courses will vary depending on faculty teaching plans in a given semester.

More information on fall 2021 course offerings to come.