Department of Religion

The Religion Department equips students of all backgrounds and traditions to interpret, evaluate, and respond to religious ideas and practices. The work of the department is shaped by the college’s Lutheran heritage and commitments as they unfold in a world of many faiths. The religion faculty welcome all students, wherever they may be in their personal journeys — because the study of religion enriches these journeys and is fundamental to a liberal arts education.

At St. Olaf College, students of religion find:

  • A rigorous, academic approach to the study of religion. Students explore how various religious beliefs, rituals, texts, and traditions have had a major influence on cultural achievements of the past, and they become intelligent interpreters of religion’s continuing influence today.
  • An exposure to faith in its many forms. St. Olaf offers a range of courses exploring the major world religions. In addition to Christianity, students have the opportunity to embrace the multidimensional, dynamic nature of faith in its many forms, including Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, and Judaism.
  • An examination of contemporary issues. In addition to asking the age-old questions, religion seminars and courses cover issues that are vital to modern society. Students think and write on topics such as God and human suffering, the ethics of war, interreligious dialogue, and the political dimensions of religious traditions.

Students often find that their religion major complements their work in other disciplines and helps them to develop a focus for their entire liberal arts education. The department prepares students to pursue a range of vocational and career paths, including leadership roles in academia, religious organizations, education, business, journalism, law, medicine, and community and social-justice activism.