Religious Studies has been an important feature of the UC Davis academic community for decades. Having tripled the size of its faculty over the last ten years, the department has also expanded its coverage and depth in several key areas including Islam, South Asian religions, Judaism, secularism, and ethics, in addition to its traditional strengths in Christianity. It is now the administrative home for the new interdisciplinary minor in human rights. The faculty’s distinctions are evidenced by its scholarship, winning of national and international grants and honors, and multiple teaching awards.
The strength of the Religious Studies department lies in its commitment to examining religion in the contemporary world, balanced with the critical study of religion's historical roots. From work in the study of poetry by Osama Bin Laden to the texts of Buddhism, to the New Testament, the department thrives on questioning how religion functions while respecting differences of faith and practice. The department has developed important relationships with Comparative Literature, Classics, History, Cultural Studies, Jewish Studies, Medieval and Early Modern Studies, Middle East and South Asian Studies and the emerging undergraduate Human Rights Initiative. These cross-disciplinary connections inform the department’s interest in exploring religion’s links to cultural variations in ethics, language, media, embodiment and modernity. The department’s commitments to advanced interdisciplinary research and teaching have recently been bolstered by the launch of a new Graduate Group in the Study of Religion, a doctoral program that will be matriculating its first cadre of students in the Fall of 2013.