Why Study Religion?

Janice Hagerman (2019), Religion Major, UROP Fellow, and captain on the lightweight women’s rowing team.

I became interested in religious studies after taking a survey course in high school with a particular emphasis on Buddhism. After having the privilege of meeting a Buddhist priestess and practicing at her Zen Center, I realized that religion is much more than something people engage in once during the week. Religion is at the intersection of sociology, psychology, political science, anthropology, and gender studies- just to name a few disciplines. Studying religion is more than studying sacred texts, memorizing denominations, or reading about rituals. It’s about seeing a culture face challenges and find success as its traditions move through history. Most of all, it’s about understanding people. Appreciating someone’s religion (whatever that may mean) means seeing them in a holistic light. I am majoring in religion because I want to help advocate for disadvantaged persons, and the best way to help someone is to completely understand their situation and context. Studying religion has been the best at preparing me for this endeavor.

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