Religious Studies

University of California, Berkeley

Overview

NOTE: The Program in Religious Studies is not accepting new majors or minors at this time. 

The religious studies major provides opportunities for securing a broad background in the liberal arts while at the same time allowing for a focus on a thematic concern or a particular religious tradition. It views religion from a global perspective and combines aspects of the humanities and the social sciences.

The major is open to anyone interested in the symbolic and mythic dimensions of world cultures, the ethical aspects of human societies, and existential issues. It is not restricted to those who have a religious background or are pursuing a religious vocation. Members of the major will be challenged to view religion multiculturally and from critical as well as appreciative perspectives.

Graduates in the program have gone on to careers in law, journalism, medicine, international business, counseling, and religious vocations. Others have entered graduate schools in history, sociology, anthropology, international policy, and religious studies.

The program requires both a general understanding of the study of religion, as well as a particular emphasis on one specific tradition or thematic concern. The general requirement involves courses that present the methodological approaches to the study of religion, such as sociology of religion and psychology of religion and courses that examine thematic issues and cross-cultural phenomena such as myth, ritual, transformative experience, and comparative ethics. The religious traditions that may be included as major fields of emphasis or as supplementary courses include the Jewish, Islamic, Christian, Hindu, and Buddhist traditions, as well as the religious cultures of China, Japan, Africa, and Native American communities.

Most of the courses available for the program are religion-related courses taught within such departments as history, sociology, and Near Eastern studies. As a supplement to these courses, the program offers a small number of courses sponsored by religious studies, including thematic topics of religion and the introductory courses (one of which surveys the world's religious traditions, and the other of which introduces the study of religious phenomena thematically).

The group major in religious studies is administered through the Division of Undergraduate and Interdisciplinary Studies. Students are referred to that office for all administrative matters.

Undergraduate Program

Religious Studies: BA, Minor

Graduate Program

There is no graduate program in Religious Studies.

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Courses

Religious Studies

RELIGST 24 Freshman Seminar 1 Unit

Terms offered: Fall 2011, Spring 2011, Fall 2002
The Freshman Seminar Program has been designed to provide new students with the opportunity to explore an intellectual topic with a faculty member in a small seminar setting. Freshman seminars are offered in all campus departments and topics vary from department to department and semester to semester. Enrollment limited to fifteen freshmen.

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RELIGST 90A Introductory Topics in Religious Studies 4 Units

Terms offered: Fall 2015, Fall 2014, Fall 2013
Selected introductory topics in the study of religion.

Introductory Topics in Religious Studies: Read More [+]

RELIGST 90B Introductory Topics in Religious Studies 4 Units

Terms offered: Spring 2016, Spring 2015, Spring 2014
Selected introductory topics in the study of religion.

Introductory Topics in Religious Studies: Read More [+]

RELIGST C90B Introductory Topics in Religious Studies 4 Units

Terms offered: Spring 2012, Fall 2010, Fall 2007
Selected introductory topics in the study of religion.

Introductory Topics in Religious Studies: Read More [+]

RELIGST C103 Religion of Ancient Egypt 3 Units

Terms offered: Fall 2014, Spring 2013, Spring 2009
A survey of the religious beliefs of the ancient Egyptians, based primarily upon the written sources.

Religion of Ancient Egypt: Read More [+]

RELIGST C104 Babylonian Religion 3 Units

Terms offered: Spring 2017, Summer 2016 10 Week Session, Summer 2016 Second 6 Week Session, Summer 2015 Second 6 Week Session, Spring 2015
A survey of Babylonian religious beliefs and practices based on indigenous texts and monuments.

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RELIGST C108 Scandinavian Myth and Religion 4 Units

Terms offered: Spring 2016, Spring 2015, Spring 2014
Religious beliefs and practices during the Viking Age in Scandinavia and their manifestations in later recordings. Readings and discussion in English.

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RELIGST C118 Western Mysticism: Religion, Art, and Literature 4 Units

Terms offered: Spring 2009, Spring 2007, Spring 2003
The course will focus on examples of mystical thought from the traditions of Christian and Jewish mysticism since the Middle Ages. In addition to the introduction of the students to basic texts and concepts we will discuss the effects of mystical thought on art and literature from the Middle Ages up to today.

Western Mysticism: Religion, Art, and Literature: Read More [+]

RELIGST C124 The Renaissance and the Reformation 4 Units

Terms offered: Fall 2017, Fall 2015, Fall 2013, Spring 2012
European history from the fourteenth to the middle of the seventeenth century. Political, social, and economic developments during this transitional period will be examined, together with the rise of Renaissance culture, and the religious upheavals of the sixteenth century.

The Renaissance and the Reformation: Read More [+]

RELIGST C132 Jewish Civilization I: The Biblical Period 4 Units

Terms offered: Spring 2016, Fall 2014, Spring 2013, Spring 2012
This is the first course in a four-course sequence in the history of Jewish culture and civilization. It covers the biblical period and the period up to the destruction of the second temple. This course will explore the current state of our knowledge, including the legacy of ancient Near Eastern myth and religion, the history of Israelite religion, the literary features of biblical narrative, and the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Jewish Civilization I: The Biblical Period: Read More [+]

RELIGST C133 Judaism in Late Antiquity 4 Units

Terms offered: Fall 2007, Spring 2006, Spring 2004
This class will examine the emergence and development of classical Judaism, its piety, institutions, thought, and literature.

Judaism in Late Antiquity: Read More [+]

RELIGST C135 Jewish Civilization: Modern Period 4 Units

Terms offered: Fall 2017, Fall 2016, Spring 2015, Fall 2013, Fall 2012
This is the fourth course in a four-course sequence in the history of Jewish culture and civilization. It explores the major themes in Jewish history from 1750 to the present, with special attention paid to the transformation of Jewish communal and individual identity in the modern world. Topics to be treated include the breakdown of traditional society, enlightenment and emancipation, assimilation, Hasidism, racial anti-Semitism
, colonialism, Zionism, and contemporary Jewish life in Europe, North America, and Israel. The multicultural nature of Jewish history will be highlighted throughout the course through the treatment of non-European Jewish narratives alongside the more familiar Ashkenazi perspective.
Jewish Civilization: Modern Period: Read More [+]

RELIGST 173AC Gandhi and the Civil Rights Movement in America 3 Units

Terms offered: Spring 2014, Spring 2013, Spring 2012
This course surveys the impact of Gandhi's philosophy of nonviolence and justice in American Civil Rights struggles. Through narratives, images from African American, itinerant Gandhian, and ethnic critics of race practice in American culture, we examine how Gandhian satyagraha shaped emergent civil resistance movements, as also the global appeal to nonviolent democracy. ACES component comprises internship with civil liberties partners that
monitor local implementations of human rights treaties.
Gandhi and the Civil Rights Movement in America: Read More [+]

RELIGST 190 Topics in the Study of Religion 4 Units

Terms offered: Spring 2016, Fall 2015, Spring 2015
Selected topics or problems in the study of religion.

Topics in the Study of Religion: Read More [+]

RELIGST H195A Honors Course 3 Units

Terms offered: Spring 2016, Fall 2015, Spring 2015
Course may take one or two semesters at the option of the instructor and student with credit to be earned upon completion of a successful thesis. Successful completion of the course will normally, but not necessarily, mean the awarding of honors.

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RELIGST H195B Honors Course 3 Units

Terms offered: Spring 2016, Spring 2015, Spring 2014
Course may take one or two semesters at the option of the instructor and student with credit to be earned upon completion of a successful thesis. Successful completion of the course will normally, but not necessarily, mean the awarding of honors.

Honors Course: Read More [+]

RELIGST 198 Directed Group Study 1 - 4 Units

Terms offered: Spring 2010, Spring 2009, Spring 2008
Tutorial instruction in areas not covered by regularly scheduled courses.

Directed Group Study: Read More [+]

RELIGST 199 Supervised Independent Study 1 - 4 Units

Terms offered: Spring 2016, Spring 2015, Spring 2014

Supervised Independent Study: Read More [+]

Faculty and Instructors

Faculty

Peter Sahlins, Professor. Early modern France, animal-human relations, immigration, citizenship and nationality in pre-modern Europe.
Research Profile

Lecturers

Rakesh Bhandari, Lecturer. Classical Social Theory's Images of Asia, The Juridical Aspects of Unfree Labor Relations, The Role of Luxury Consumption in Economic Growth, The Nature and Limits of Keynesian Intervention, The Discourses of Social Darwinism.

Shreeharsh Kelkar, Lecturer. History and anthropology of computing, work, and expertise in the 20th century.

Earl Klee, Lecturer. Politics & Political Economy; Political/Social Theory; Modern War.

Gary Wren, Lecturer. Technology & Society; Development Studies; Social/Political Theory.

Fang Xu, Lecturer.

Contact Information

Religious Studies Program

237 Evans Hall

Phone: 510-642-9320

Visit Program Website

Program Director

Charles Hirschkind, PhD (Department of Anthropology)

232 Kroeber Hall

chirschk@berkeley.edu

Student Academic Adviser

Laura Spautz, MPH

237 Evans Hall

Phone: 510-642-9320

religious.st@berkeley.edu

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