Track II: Religious Thought
Track II Coordinator: David Decosimo
Affiliated Track Faculty
Shelly Rambo, M. David Eckel, Walter Fluker, Diana Lobel, Robert Neville, Mary Elizabeth Moore, Shelly Rambo, C. Allen Speight, Bryan P. Stone, Nimi Wariboko, Wesley Wildman, Claire Wolfteich, Michael Zank
This program guides students to develop philosophical and analytical skills, knowledge of at least one religious tradition, and expertise in one or more of the following areas: philosophy of religion, religious ethics, historical and analytical approaches to theology, and comparative approaches to religious thought. Specialized research programs include: historical studies of religious thought in one of these areas; philosophical, ethical, or theoretical analysis of religious subject matters, especially within the domain of religious ideas; and interdisciplinary studies of religious thought in relation to cognate fields in the humanities, literary studies, fine arts, and social sciences.
Current strengths include: German idealism; modern Jewish thought; political theology; comparative philosophy of religion; comparative religious ethics; trauma studies; pragmatism; philosophy of religions; theory and method; religion and political philosophy; and religion and popular culture.
Track-Specific Admission Requirements:
Students entering the Religious Thought track should demonstrate a strong background in one or more of the following areas: philosophy, philosophy of religion, religious studies, theology, or ethics. Ideally, applicants will show transcript evidence of knowledge of at least two distinct religious traditions. Appropriate background in those languages and fields directly relevant to an applicant’s proposed research is also strongly recommended.
Related degrees: Students in this track who attend to theology do so from within the framework and discipline of religious studies. Those interested in PhD programs in constructive or systematic theology may wish to explore the programs offered by Boston University’s School of Theology.
Track-Specific Course Requirements:
Students in the Religious Thought track are required to take Philosophical and
Theological Approaches to Religion (RN 797). Students in the Religious Thought track are required to take Core Texts and Motifs of World Religions (RN 723-724) or suitable alternatives in order to demonstrate broad religious literacy.
Track-Specific Language & Research Competence Requirements:
Beyond two modern foreign languages, students in the Religious Thought track who are working with primary written sources in foreign language(s) will need to demonstrate a thorough knowledge of grammar, syntax, and vocabulary in these language(s), at a level of expertise appropriate to the particular area of specialization. Normally, this expertise will be evaluated directly by Division faculty, during the stage of Qualifying Examinations.
Track-Specific Basic Structure of Qualifying Examinations:
Students will normally take four comprehensive examinations. The first examination will cover the field of religious thought, broadly speaking, including major themes in philosophy of religion, theology, and religious ethics. The second exam will treat core literature and methodological debates within the particular disciplinary tradition(s) in which each student is specializing. The third exam will treat the literature related to each student’s research specialty, testing both competence in a specialized area of research and the ability to articulate the relevance of that specialized area to the broader horizons of religious thought and religious and theological studies. For some students a fourth exam will test the student’s competence in the primary source language(s) most relevant for the chosen area of study. For other students the fourth exam may serve as supplement to the second, as described above.