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The Religious Studies Department offers students the opportunity to develop skills in critical and creative thinking, analysis, and research through the study of diverse religious traditions. Our courses explore the texts, objects, spaces, and lived experiences connected with religious traditions and cultures, as well as the art, films, and other forms of cultural expression that represent them.

About the Major

Religious Studies concentrators, working closely with their advisors in the department, will study several traditions from those explored in our courses, including Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Indigenous traditions, Islam, and Jewish thought and life. This study is necessarily interdisciplinary, and will expose students to a variety of methods and interpretive strategies, including archaeological, ethnographical, feminist, historical, literary and hermeneutic, philosophical, post-colonial, psychological, and sociological.

Among the topics you will study are: what is problematic about the very concept of “religion” as something universal; interreligious interactions; the nature of hierarchies and social processes; the lived experience of sacred spaces, and pilgrimages; conflict and co-existence; the complex and fluid nature of ethics, race, gender, class, sexuality, ethnicity, and nationality in connection with religious traditions.

Without the Hamilton Religious Studies Department, I wouldn't be the person I am today. From my four years of research experience, study and grants abroad to India and Italy, and the path the Department took me to Harvard and beyond, I cannot thank them enough.

Shannon Boley — Religious studies major

Careers After Hamilton

  • Financial Advisor, Morgan Stanley Wealth Management
  • Brand Coordinator, Legendary Entertainment
  • Upper School Dean of Students, American School of Madrid
  • Rabbinical Student, Hebrew Union College
  • Director of Development, The Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia
  • Gerontologist, Gateway Adult Center
  • Director of Youth & Education Justice, Children’s Defense Fund-NY
  • Clinical Social Worker, Morris Foundation

Contact Information


Religious Studies Department

198 College Hill Road
Clinton, NY 13323

Meet Our Faculty

A Sampling of Courses

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Religious Diversity in the USA 120S


Religious diversity has been noted in big cities like New York and Los Angeles. But smaller cities like Utica have also diversified, seeing unprecedented population shifts in recent years. This course will take advantage of our proximity to Utica, and explore the mosques, temples, synagogues, and churches that exist there today, as well as explore the rich religious history of Central New York, including the Great Awakenings, Utopian communities, and recent immigration patterns. Writing-intensive.

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Native American Spiritualities 129FS


In order to develop a broad understanding of the religious lives of Native Americans, we explore diverse practices and worldviews. We begin with an examination of how Native American worldviews are unique and differ from modern-Western worldviews. With this grounding, we delve into explorations of the multifaceted history of Native American traditions including the Ghost Dance, the Sun Dance, religious freedom issues pertaining to the use of peyote, struggles over sacred places, and complex native engagements with Christianity. Writing-intensive. Oral Presentations.

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World Films, World Faiths 145F


Introduces the practices and beliefs of several major world religions (including Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism) through the medium of film. Exploring Japanese anime, Indonesia documentaries, video films from Ghana, Bollywood mythologicals, Jesus-films from Latin America, Korean-Buddhist films, contemporary fictional glimpses into Jewish life, and more, shows how religious people live and struggle and find joy, by using the audio-visual medium of film.

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The Education of Desire 204F


A close reading of Spinoza's masterpiece, The Ethics, with a view to understanding its contemporary implications in the light of the new brain sciences. Writing-intensive. Oral Presentations.

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Raging Gods: Scorsese and Coppola’s Religious Films 321F


The religious in the films of Martin Scorsese and Francis Ford Coppola. As American New Wave auteurs they contribute to the emergence of a new sacramental style in American film. We pay attention to the film traditions that inform their development, e.g. Italian neo-realism, horror, film noir and French New Wave. A look at the influence of their Roman-Catholic, Italian-American religious culture.

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Seminar: Death, Dying and the Afterlife 357S


How do humans prepare to die? What happens to the soul after death? What techniques are used to achieve immortality or better afterlife? Examines death and the afterlife from medical, philosophical and religious perspectives, focusing on Buddhism, Hinduism and Islam. Writing-intensive.

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