Comparative Religion.


Comparative Religion

Comparative Religion students are globalists, with expertise in analyzing the ways in which billions of people lead and evaluate their lives across the world and within American pluralism. With one foot in the humanities and the other in the social sciences, Comparative Religion is interdisciplinary in nature.

Through their study of world history and its shaping of current events, global comparative analysis and knowledge of ethical standards and practices, Comparative Religion students are equipped to understand multiple perspectives on today’s pressing issues in the U.S. and around the world, and to engage in informed discussion and decision making towards sustainable solutions. The vital contribution of Comparative Religion students’ globalist expertise has been recognized and noted by two recent U.S. Secretaries of State, as well as the National Council for the Social Studies.

If I went back to college today, I think I would probably major in comparative religion, because that’s how integrated it is in everything that we are working on and deciding and thinking about today. ”
John F. Kerry
Aug. 7, 2013

What We Do

  • Explain concepts, practices and patterns of global religions through the interpretation of a wide variety of sources, including masterpieces of literature, art, architecture and performance (Cultural Studies)
  • Analyze religion as an influential expression of human experience across the globe, including Africa, America, Asia, Europe and the Middle East, using methods of historical analysis, ethical reasoning and practice, and comparative study (Global Studies)
  • Examine Western and world history, from local culture to global news, through an understanding of religion’s roles in world events, both past and present (Social Studies)
  • Interpret ethical standards and practices and values-motivated behavior of individuals and groups, historically and in the present (Behavioral Studies)

What We Contribute

Internationally: Religion has a vibrant presence across the globe

  • “The proportion of the world’s population that claims membership in the world’s four largest religions — Christianity, Islam, Buddhism and Hinduism — actually increased over the past century, from 67 percent in 1900 to 73 percent in 2005. The number is predicted to reach 80 percent by 2050. Former Secretary of State [Madeleine] Albright recently has become a highly vocal advocate of the public role of religion studies, writing that the failure of Americans to understand other religions poses one of the great challenges to our public diplomacy.'” (Source: American Academy of Religion 2008 White Paper)
  • John Kerry has recently added his voice to the growing multitude interested in Comparative Religion at the Faith-Based Community Initiatives Launch, Aug. 7, 2013; he has also expressed his interest in and support of  Comparative Religion at his Remarks at Youth Connect in Berlin, Germany, Feb. 26, 2013). The State Department has a new Office of Faith-Based Community Initiatives, led by ethicist Shaun Casey.

Nationally: Assessing implementation of the U.S.’s core commitment to freedom of expression and the current status of national pluralism

  • We travel in our own region — New Jersey and New York City — to sacred spaces and institutions in order to understand the public presence of religious communities in the U.S. and ways in which their presence changes and enhances the diversity of our cultural landscape.
  • Our study also involves demographics, immigration and settlement patterns, issues of integration and exclusion, and multiple perspectives on what it means to be an American.
  • In 2014, the National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) strongly reaffirmed its position that teaching about religion should take place at all levels of education, from pre-kindergarten to graduate: “Knowledge about religions is not only a characteristic of an educated person but is necessary for effective and engaged citizenship in a diverse nation and world. Religious literacy dispels stereotypes, promotes cross-cultural understanding, and encourages respect for the rights of others to religious liberty.”