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Religion

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Department Overview

Why Study Religion?

To explore how humans understand and experience the sacred, the self, and the world.

To celebrate the complexity and variety within religious life and thought.

To cultivate skills of reading, speaking, and writing.

To share in the delight of asking--and even risking answers to--questions about the meaning of life and the sources of human and social transformation.

To experience the knowledge that arises from an appreciation of the place of religion in human experience.

The study of Religion can provide excellent preparation for a variety of careers, such as law, teaching, counseling, business, journalism, politics, writing, medicine, and the arts. Find courses here.

Reflections on the Study of Religion

Religion J-Term 2021 and Spring 2021 Courses Offered

Learn about this course and others being offered J-Term 2021 and Spring 2021 by the Religion Department. 

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Wallace Heinz class trip

Studying Religion in Nature

Mark Wallace and his Postmodern Religious Thought Seminar students visit the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge after reading Derrida's work on religion and animals. More from Studying Religion in Nature

Abby Kluchin '03 teaching a course at the Brooklyn Institute for Social Research

Swarthmore in Brooklyn

Abby Kluchin '03, a religion Honors major at Swarthmore and now Assistant Professor of Philosophy and Religious Studies at Ursinus College, practiced intellectual community building at the Brooklyn Institute. More

Assistant professor of religion Tariq al-Jamil

Hiding in Plain Sight

In this talk, Assistant Professor of Religion Tariq al-Jamil explores the bodily practices and social behaviors associated with religious dissimulation - known as "taqiyya,” a practice in which a Shi’ite can lie about their faith in order to save a life - in 13th- and 14th-century Iraq. More from Hiding in Plain Sight

Professor Yvonne Chireau teaching a class

The study of religion can offer deep and meaningful explorations into vital questions of identity, community, and selfhood in an academic setting.

Studying Religion in Nature

Mark Wallace and his Postmodern Religious Thought Seminar students visit the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge after reading Derrida's work on religion and animals. More from Studying Religion in Nature

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James Padilioni Quoted in Recent Philadelphia Inquirer Article: Does This Presidential Election Seem More Witchy to You?

Padilioni observed that some organizers planned their activism while being mindful of astrological transits. And spiritual and political movements have a long history of coinciding, he said.

Living through a time like this, Padilioni said, "when many institutions have been called into question, has made us reassess what truth means. Firm boundaries around truth, he said, have disappeared. “2020 has totally demonstrated [when] the authority of truth is gone,” Padilioni began, “and when there are no material institutions that seem to embody that, there becomes a strong impulse within people to seek out and express themselves and to make connections in other ways."

James Padilioni is a Visiting Assistant Professor of Religion and Postdoctoral Fellow at Swarthmore College

Visiting Assistant Professor James Padilioni