Welcome to Duke University’s Department of Religion!
The Religion Department, consisting of nineteen faculty members, five affiliated faculty, several secondary appointees, and three staff members, offers a broad selection of undergraduate courses to its majors, minors, and all interested students on campus. We also offer a Master of Arts program in Religion, and we operate, together with the Divinity School, Duke’s Graduate Program in Religion, which has ranked among the top programs in the country for the past twenty years.
In our teaching and research, we all engage in different aspects of the study of religion, using a variety of perspectives and methodologies. Several of us study major religious traditions of the world—Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Confucianism, and Taoism. We study these traditions both in the ways they manifest themselves in our present-day societies and in their historical depth, examining their origins and sacred texts (often in the original languages) as well as their historical developments, rituals, artifacts, practices, and transformations over time.
Beyond our study of individual religious traditions, we are interested in exploring the core notions of religion itself— the yearning of humans for perfection and their awareness of imperfection, their sense of the transcendent or the non-mundane, their search for guidance in their judgments and behavior. These broader questions often require a comparative approach and cannot be studied without taking into account specific historical and cultural contexts.
Join us in this intellectually enriching adventure as a major, a minor, or for individual courses. Given the multifaceted nature of the study of religion, many of our courses will serve as useful complements for students primarily interested in other fields—sociology, political sciences, public policy, education, history, art history, law, cultural anthropology, or medicine.
To our study of religion we welcome students of different religious and non-religious backgrounds. Our Department wants to reflect fully the diversity and complexity of today’s world – and of Duke’s campus! While being respectful of all religious traditions in their various manifestations, we will at the same time ask critical questions and always consider different answers in our attempt to understand better any individual religious tradition as well as the place of religion in human society.