Program Information

Minor in Religious Studies

A minor in Religious Studies is an excellent way to broaden your education at Mount Royal University. Religion permeates all dimensions of life from politics to pop culture, from literature to law, from management to medicine.A Minor in Religious Studies connects in various ways with every major area of study at the university.

The Religious Studies Minor is extremely flexible. Because of this, you are bound to find a Religious Studies course that will fit with your own academic schedule. 

For more information on the Minor in Religious Studies, contact Michael Hawley, the Religious Studies Coordinator, or Rachel Doe, the Arts advisor.

What is Religious Studies?

Religious Studies is not theology. Theologians study the doctrines of their own religions, in a manner consistent with traditions within those religions. Religious Studies describes, analyzes, and interprets the world's religions and spiritualities. These include Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Chinese religions, contemplative systems (e.g. mysticism or meditation), indigenous religious traditions, as well as many others.

The academic study of religion seeks to understand beliefs and practices, art and architecture, literature, organizational forms, music and media, ethics and laws, material artifacts and popular culture, and all the other dimensions of human life and society that are connected with religions. Religious Studies is a multidisciplinary field. We and our students approach our study of religions from a variety of disciplines, among them history, sociology, anthropology, literary criticism, music and art history, gender studies, economics, philosophy, political science, public policy, etc.

Religious Studies utilizes established theories, but also proposes and assesses new theories about what religions are, how they originated, how they are distinctive, how they work, and how understanding them might help us in turn to better understand ourselves and others and the world we inhabit.

Why Study Religions?

More than a century ago, the philosopher Frederick Nietzsche proclaimed the death of religion. More recently, pessimism about the value of religions has been voiced by people as diverse as evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins and comedian Bill Maher. But all you have to do is look at the world's political events to see that religion is alive and well. It is often said that religion is a private affair and that we live in a religiously neutral, secular society, yet religions make themselves felt in virtually every aspect of public life.

Whether you are strolling the streets of Chinatown or Little Punjab, enjoying Reggae- or Brazil-fest, celebrating Canada Day, or just browsing the web, you are in the presence of religions whether you recognize it or not. Canadians debate the place of religion in public schools, and many communities have established faith-based schools, supported by public funds. Legal decisions sanction or limit religious practices.

Religion is central to how we think about such things as multiculturalism, citizenship, immigration, and democracy. Literature, film, and the arts are full of both direct appeals and allusions to religious ideas, people, and stories. More and more often, religious voices are included in discussions about the environment, economics, and globalization. The academic study of religion makes clear that the teachings of the world's religions and spiritualities have something positive to contribute to contemporary global challenges. Without an understanding of religions, we are not fully attuned to the society we live in and the world around us.

Without an understanding of religions, our perspective is narrowed and our fact set incomplete. Whether as co-workers, clients, patients, friends, or in any other capacity, most of us will find ourselves engaged with people from religious and cultural backgrounds different from our own. Having some background in Religious Studies can make these daily interactions richer, lessen misunderstanding, and help to foster greater empathy. Knowledge of religions helps to make us more informed citizens and more fully aware human beings.

The diversity of religions, their ability to motivate both the depth and heights of human actions, the sheer pervasiveness of religion in our daily lives, and the possible contributions of religions to contemporary global issues all make the study of religions an interesting and rewarding challenge.