Religion Minor

Accepting Applications Fall 2024

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Program Overview and Goals

Students in the Department of Religion examine religious life, the diverse forms it has taken in different cultures and historical periods, and the questions it poses for theoretical, ethical, and political reflection. As a humanities department, rather than a seminary or theological school, we appeal to the same standards of historical and philosophical scholarship found in neighboring disciplines.

The purpose of the Religion Minor is to provide an interdisciplinary framework in which students majoring in other departments can synthesize their coursework in religious studies to most effectively enrich their other academic work. This framework orients students’ personal, pre-professional, and scholarly interests in thinking about religion toward comparative cultural and social contexts. Students who complete the minor will leave Princeton with a better understanding of the artistic, economic, ethical, historical, philosophical, and political effects of religious traditions and religious thought.

The Department of Religion is committed to the study of religion through diverse methods across historical and contemporary manifestations. Our faculty’s course offerings cover a range of content and approaches within religious studies: history, anthropology, philosophy, literature, politics and ethics. The minor cultivates a community of undergraduates from across campus interested in pursuing the same intellectual exchange about religion that the Department has long nurtured. The Department offers advising support for students to connect their work in religion to their major fields, helping them to design courses of study and research projects that put their interests in religion into direct conversation with their work in their majors.

Prerequisites

There are no prerequisites for enrollment in the Religion Minor, but prospective minors are encouraged to take at least one course in Religion during their first or second year. Religion courses taken prior to enrollment in the minor may be counted toward its completion.

Admission to the Program

Students may apply to the minor after declaring a major and until the beginning of their junior Spring. (Members of the Class of 2025 who can complete the requirements during their senior year, however, are eligible to enroll during their senior Fall.) Religion majors are not eligible for enrollment in the minor. Applications to the minor consist of an email to the Director of Undergraduate Studies expressing interest and giving the applicant’s major, class year, and prior courses in Religion.

After being admitted to the minor, students will meet with the DUS to imagine a course of study around a theme focused on their interests. Curricular choices will be made in conversation with the DUS, but the minor is designed to leave considerable room for students to pursue their own specific interests and goals.

General Requirements / Program of Study

1)  Students must successfully complete five courses, fulfilling these conditions:

  1. At least four of these courses must be offered by the Department of Religion. One course may be offered elsewhere in the University, as long as it is approved as suitably relevant by the DUS. Courses cross-listed with REL may be considered pre-approved.
     
  2. The five courses should not all be focused on a single religious tradition or approach, nor should they all be focused on different traditions or approaches. That is, the five courses must include courses from at least two of the five “Areas of Study” in which the Department of Religion offers courses and  two (or more) courses from one of those five areas. The five Areas of Study are Ancient Judaism, Christianity, and Greek and Roman Religions; Islam; Religion in the Americas; Religions of Asia; and Philosophical and Ethical Approaches to Religion.

Courses offered by the department are identified with an Area of Study designation in our list of courses each semester (see, for example, https://religion.princeton.edu/courses/undergraduate-courses-0). A handful of REL courses do not carry an Area of Study designation – typically, these are courses focused on methodology in the study of religion or courses organized around a comparative approach to two or more areas of study.  A student in the minor may take up to two such courses toward its completion, so long as they also fulfill the distribution requirements described above.

No more than one elected P/D/F course may be counted towards the requirements for the minor. No double-counting of courses is permitted: students may not count a course toward the Religion Minor that they are counting toward their major.

2)  Upon completion of the minor’s course requirements, students will participate in a research symposium and present their work to each other, the Religion majors, and members of the Religion faculty. Participating students will organize these symposia at the end of each academic year with the assistance of the DUS and the Undergrad Administrator. Each participating student will present on a research project of their choice. It is anticipated that these will take the form of poster presentations, but the Department is open to other formats that would respond to a given minor cohort’s interest and initiative. Students are encouraged to present on a paper that they completed as part of one of their courses in the minor, but those desiring other options are encouraged to discuss them with the DUS. All students in the minor are encouraged to seek the advice of relevant faculty in putting together their presentations.

3)  Minors are required to submit a Reflection Paper after completing the course and conference requirements for the minor. This short (2-3 page) paper will narrate the student’s coursework in the minor with particular focus on how that work has related to their work in their major and/or other aspects of their time at Princeton.