Religious studies provides an ideal focus for a liberal arts education, which should be about opening one’s mind to life’s most profound questions. Long before most current subjects found their way into college and university programs, the academic study of religion served as a primary means of inquiry in literary, historical, philosophical and cultural studies, among others. It continues to be an exceptionally broad field of study, drawing together the widest possible range of concerns. Today, the study of religion is inseparably bound up with the study of aesthetics, literature, anthropology, sociology, politics, ethics and ecology. The study of religion holds a unique place in the academic world, both as an integrative, inherently interdisciplinary field in its own right and as a supportive mode of inquiry for a multitude of scholarly and professional studies.
The emphasis in the religious studies program at Eckerd College is on the study of religion from an academic perspective, rather than from a particular traditional religious perspective. Students in religious studies need not be affiliated with any particular religious tradition. Diversity of background and experience is respected and valued.
Religious studies provides an excellent background for a career as well as an appropriate way of becoming a well-informed person. Teachers, social workers, counselors, writers, youth workers, chaplains, Christian educators, directors of camps and conferences, ministers, and church musicians often begin their preparation with a major in religious study. A number of majors go on to graduate work in religious studies or other humanities disciplines. A few religious studies majors have gone on to law school. Many find the study of religion, whether as a major or not, to be an excellent means of thinking through some of the most important questions of life.