Why Study Religion?
Religion has always been with us. It concerns the deepest questions human beings can ask, and it has occupied a central place in virtually all civilizations and cultures. As we think all the way back to the dawn of human consciousness, we find religion everywhere we turn.
This may be true of the past, but what about the present - and the future? In recent times, critics have suggested that religion is on the way out. Technology and science have changed our view of the world radically, leading some to say that we've entered a new stage of human existence, without religion. Soon, they argue, it will truly be a thing of the past.
In our day and age, rumors of religion's demise seem very premature - and perhaps there's no grain of truth in them at all. Religion persists and is often on the rise, even as scientific and non-religious perspectives have become prominent. We still find religion everywhere, on television, in film, in popular music, in our towns and neighborhoods. We discover religion at the center of global issues and cultural conflict. We see religion in the lives of the people we know and love, and in ourselves, as we live out and wrestle with our own religious faith. Why does religion continue to thrive? There are many reasons, but one thing is certain: religious traditions are adaptable in important ways. For many, contemporary religion even has room for skepticism, science, and the secular, which allows it to keep going strong in our rapidly changing world.
Overall, religion is powerful and persistent, and it shows no signs of disappearing. It provokes heartfelt commitment, eloquent expression, forthright action, and intense debate. For both practitioners and observers - for everyone who wants to be informed about the world around them - religion is an intensely curious phenomenon that calls out for better understanding.
The freedom of intellectual exploration is one of the joys of being in college, but most college students also have practical concerns about how studying religion will help in "the real world."
The study of religion leads in many directions, qualifying undergraduates for further study in graduate school and giving them a leg up in certain areas of the job market. Most religion departments offer students training in a unique combination of skills, including direct observation, critical thinking, and cross-cultural understanding. In many professional fields, such skills are in high demand. In addition, many religion majors or minors go on to study law, business, education, and medicine in graduate school. Some students choose to make religion the center of a professional career, either as the leader of a religious community, or as an academic specialist in higher education. In short, the study of religion offers a wide array of opportunities and a firm foundation for a successful and fulfilling career. Adapted from AAR website http://www.studyreligion.org
Career Possibilities With a Degree in Religious Studies?
A degree in religious studies is a great preparation for a variety of graduate programs as well as a variety of occupations. Here are some areas of employment, possible employers and strategies to enhance your opportunities.
Employment Areas: Humanitarian Services, Economic Development, Community Disaster/ Disease Relief Services; Policy Development; Program Administration; Volunteer Coordination; Peace Keeping or Peace-building; Conflict Resolution; Diplomacy/Faith Based Diplomacy, Teaching, Social Work, Pastoral Work, Public Service, International Law, Foreign Affairs.
Potential Employers: International aid and relief organizations; NGO's (Non-governmental Organizations), Nonprofit and not-for-profit organizations (e.g. Habitat for Humanity), Humanitarian organizations, e.g. International Red Cross, Catholic Relief Services, the United Nations, local civic and ecclesial communities; federal agencies (e.g. Vista and Peace Corp).
Strategies to Enhance Your Possibilities: Learn a second language, study or intern abroad, intern nationally, try to involve yourself in diverse cultural and civic activities; join student and civic organization where you can acquire, practice, and develop leadership skills. Develop research, writing and public speaking skills; volunteer or intern in activities that will advance your experience in the career areas of interest to you, develop good time management and interpersonal skills, especially empathy.