Department of Religious Studies

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The Department of Religious Studies examines religious beliefs, institutions and practices using approaches from the humanities, arts, social sciences and sciences. The academic study of religion, combined with appropriate courses in other fields, provides an excellent background for any professional career—including law, engineering, medicine and health care professions, journalism, social work and others—and for graduate studies in a number of fields.


A major in religious studies provides a well-rounded liberal arts education or can be combined conveniently with a second major. Minors or sequences in religious studies complement and broaden any field chosen as a major.



Dr. Joy R. Bostic selected to receive the 201​8 Faculty Diversity​ Award

Date posted: April 17th, 2018

Dr. Joy R. Bostic, and the other award winners, will be recognized at the Office for Inclusion, Diversity and Equal Opportunity Annual Diversity Achievement Awards Luncheon on Wednesday, April 18, 2018​ at 11:30 a.m. in the Tinkham Veale University Center, Ballroom A.  During the luncheon, members of the CWRU community will be recognized for their​ ​contributions to enhancing and promoting diversity and inclusion on campus.  The luncheon is free and open to the CWRU community.

Dr. Joy R. Bostic presenting papers at Kent State University on Friday, April 13 and Harvard University on Saturday, April 14th

Date posted: April 13th, 2018

Dr. Joy R. Bostic will present the paper, “The Lemonade Class, Kendrick Lamar, and Afrofuturism from P-Funk to Get Out: Emancipatory Pedagogies and Black Cultural Production” at the Africa and Global Atlantic World Conference at Kent State University, Friday, April 13. She has also been invited to present the paper “Hip Hop, God Complexes, and Complex Gods” at the Spiritual but not Religious: Past, Present, Future(s) Conference at Harvard Divinity School’s’ Center for the Study of World Religions Center on Saturday, April 14th.

Dr. Timothy Beal to present at Cyberinfrastructure Day 2018: Innovative Technology on Friday, April 13

Date posted: April 12th, 2018

Timothy Beal, Florence Harkness Professor of Religion, will be presenting at Cyberinfrastructure Day 2018 on “Neural Machine Translation of Classic Texts, And Other Adventures of a HPC Newb from the Humanities” at 9:00 am on Friday, April 13, in the Wolstein Research Building auditorium.

SPRING 2018 RATNER FAMILY LECTURE IN RELIGION, Wednesday, April 11 at 4:30 pm

Date posted: March 26th, 2018


Distinguished Lecturer: Albert J. Raboteau
Emeritus Professor of Religion, Princeton University

“Balm in Gilead: Memory, Mourning, and Healing in African American Autobiography”

Wednesday, April 11 at 4:30 pm
Tinkham Veale University Center Ballroom C
Reception to Follow

Dr. Timothy Beal to Present at the 2018 Freedman Fellows ShowCASE

Date posted: March 19th, 2018

Could what we learn from the Freedman Fellows’ Sexual Assault Kit Initiative reduce the number of rape cases in the future?
Could an application, created by a Freedman Fellow, uncover new biblical meanings in the Hebrew Book of Genesis? …Read more.

Dr. Justine Howe Awarded AAR Individual Research Grant

Date posted: March 5th, 2018

Dr. Justine Howe was recently awarded an American Academy of Religion Individual Research grant to support her new book project, Muslim Students and the Making of American Islam.


Date posted: March 2nd, 2018

The Minor in African and African American Studies was approved by the Board of Trustees at its 2018 February meeting. While the program will be officially launched in the fall semester of 2018, students can begin enrolling in classes for the minor this spring. The Founding Director for the African and African American Studies minor is Joy R. Bostic. Dr. Bostic is an associate professor in the Department of Religious Studies where the new program will be housed. Professor Bostic would like to thank the students who have been a part of the #WeBelongHere movement, especially Andrea Doe and Arik Stewart whose efforts helped to mobilize students and sparked a renewed call to establish a stand-alone program in African and African American Studies; Marilyn Mobley, Vice President for Inclusion, Diversity and Equal Opportunity who took up the students call and organized faculty discussions that contributed to the development of a formal proposal; Drs. Mobley and Cassi Pittman who served on the proposal subcommittee; the Department of Religious Studies for its enthusiastic support for establishing the program; and the Dean’s Office of the College, College and University committee and subcommittee members as well as departmental chairs and program directors who provided feedback and support during the proposal process.

Dr. Joy Bostic will lead a workshop at Union Theological Seminary in New York City on Saturday, February 24

Date posted: February 23rd, 2018

Dr. Joy Bostic will lead a workshop entitled The Lemonade Class: Womanist Pedagogy and Black Popular Cultures at the Trailblazers 2018: Beyond the Temple Door There is no Promised Land at Union Theological Seminary in New York City on Saturday, February 24.

Dr. Justine Howe Book Launch, Lecture and Reception “All-American Islam: Leisure and Parenting in Suburban Chicago”

Date posted: January 30th, 2018

After 9/11, American Muslims have faced increased pressure to demonstrate the compatibility of Islam and American culture. Focusing on suburban Chicago, this lecture shows how some Muslim communities have embraced leisure activities, such as playing football or apple-picking, as essential for smoothing the pathway for Islam’s acceptance in the American religious landscape and as vital for the construction of an American Islam that transcends ethnic and racial divisions.

This talk explores how consumer practices, especially those perceived as generating “spirituality” and cultural “comfort”— have become resonant in our contemporary political moment.


Dr. Brian Clites – Work-in-Progress – Sacred Protests: Politics and Faith after Sexual Abuse

Date posted: January 30th, 2018

In the wake of Boston, 2002, survivors of Catholic clergy sexual abuse have been empowered to come forward with their stories of suffering. Yet from the ashes of their collective trauma, abuse survivors have built a robust agenda of political and religious reforms. In this lecture, Brian Clites, Instructor in the Department of Religious Studies, takes us on an ethnographic exploration of Catholic abuse survivors’ protests, examining not only the reforms that victims seek but also the conflicting emotions that they feel towards their church. Even as some survivors continue to kiss their Cardinal’s rings, others harbor fantasies of murder and revenge.


Master of Arts in Religious Studies applications

Applications for the Master of Arts Program in Religious Studies are now being accepted.

Page last modified: April 17, 2018