Minor in Religion in Science & Medicine

The minor in Religion in Science & Medicine allows students to focus on a key theme in the study of religion: how religion, as we commonly understand it, has come to be distinct from or even in tension with scientific ways of understanding the natural world, including how we think about health and healing. Students explore the long history of the perceived divide between religion and science, in addition to ways that religion has continued to shape how people—historically and in the present—understand healing, medicine, and the formation of the world through both natural and supernatural assumptions. Science and prehealth majors, in particular, would find this minor to complement their degree with a humanities approach to the sciences and medicine. We take a broad approach to science and medicine, seeking to utilize humanities knowledge to create a better understanding of the religious, cultural, and ethical aspects of science and medicine. The program will help to prepare students for the diversity of human perspectives and experiences they will encounter in their future careers, enabling them to understand their clients/patients in a more holistic way.

Learning Outcomes

Students in this minor will:

  • Learn how religion and science (including medicine) came to be thought of as distinct approaches to understanding the world.
  • Explore debates about religion versus science or religion versus medicine, in which religion is understood to be in opposition to scientific and medical advancements.
  • Understand how religion, science, and medicine have become sometimes harmonious and sometimes competing forms of knowledge and meaning-making in the modern world.
  • Explore how religious traditions engage with medical and scientific advancements and how such advancement lead to religious adaptation and change.
  • Explore questions about religious ethics and the politics of religion in medicine and science.
  • Explore how various religious traditions understand healing, medicine, and the natural world.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of multiple religious traditions, including their histories, ideas, rituals, and vocabulary.


Five 4-credit religion (RN) courses completed with a grade of C or higher. In fulfilling these requirements, higher-level courses may not be substituted for lower-level courses.

For the five courses:

  • At least one must be either CAS RN 209 Religion, Health, and Medicine OR CAS RN 242/CAS HI 203 Magic, Science, and Religion (students are welcome to take both).
  • One may be a course at any level that is comparative or tradition-based (this course does not need to come from the list below).
  • Remaining courses, at least one of which must be at the 300 level or above, must be from the course list below.

Course List

  • CAS RN 106 Death and Immortality
  • CAS RN 209 Religion, Health, and Medicine
  • CAS RN 239 Religion and Science
  • CAS RN 242/CAS HI 203 Magic, Science, and Religion
  • CAS RN 243 Shamans and Shamanism
  • CAS RN 246 Sex, Death, and the Buddha
  • CAS RN 248 Food and Religion
  • CAS RN 345 Shariah Law
  • CAS RN 356 Religion in the Digital Age
  • CAS RN 369 Science and Religion: Dialogue and Debate
  • CAS RN 439 Jewish Bioethics and Holocaust Studies
  • CAS RN 450/GRS RN 750 Topics in Religion, Health, and Medicine
  • GMS MA 605 History of Medicine and Healing in the US
  • GMS MA 622 Religion, Culture, and Public Health

Students may, with the approval of their minor advisor in the Department of Religion, count toward the minor one relevant course taken in another department.