First-Year Students' Guide

Religion (RELG)

Chair: Professor Lori Pearson

The study of religion in all its facets is central to the goals of a liberal education: fostering a deeper understanding of what it means to be human by examining how people in diverse times and places have developed ideas and practices related to what is most real and valuable in human life. At Carleton, the study of religion is pursued as a cross-cultural and interdisciplinary field of inquiry within the humanities and social sciences.

Can I major in it? Yes, a major is offered.  Please view this link to see more regarding the Religion major at Carleton.

Topics explored: Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Native American religions, the religions of East Asia, and the relation between religion and, e.g., culture, politics, gender, philosophy, and ethics.

How to get started: Recommended courses for first-year students include:

  • RELG 110: Understanding Religion
  • RELG 120: Introduction to Judaism
  • RELG 121: Introduction to Christianity
  • RELG 122: Introduction to Islam
  • RELG 150: Religions of South Asia
  • RELG 151: Religion in Chinese Culture
  • RELG 152: Japanese Religion and Culture
  • RELG 153:  Introduction to Buddhism
  • RELG 160:  Hebrew Bible
  • RELG 165:  Jesus, Paul, and Christian Origins.

Why Study Religion?

Click here to log onto the web site sponsored and developed by the American Academy of Religion and funded by a grant from the Lilly Endowment, Inc.  It contains possible answers to the "why study religion" question and much more.


Guide for New Students

Judaic Studies (JSTD)

Contact: Professor Stacy Beckwith, Director of Judaic Studies

What is it? What topics are explored?

Judaic Studies at Carleton provides students with the opportunity to explore aspects of Jewish civilization in its historical and contemporary manifestations from the perspectives of a variety of modern disciplines.  Judaic Studies examines Jewish history, thought, literature and social life as dimensions of the unique experience of the Jewish people with humanity's diverse cultural endeavors.

Can I major in it?

Students may petition for a special major in Judaic Studies, or take a concentrated program within a major in Religion.  Judaic Studies courses are offered on a regular basis by the Religion Department and the Department of Middle Eastern Languages, and pertinent courses are periodically offered in other departments as well.

How to get started

Look through the courses with a Judaic focus or relevance to Jewish Studies on our Judaic Studies web page.  These include courses primarily in the Religion and Middle Eastern Languages departments, but also in History, Cinema and Media Studies, and occasionally in some other language departments. 

Off Campus Studies

Every year the Jonathan Paradise Israel Experience Fund provides up to three scholarships that can help students study in university or learning institute programs in Israel for an academic term or during the summer.  Students may also volunteer or intern in Israel in Israel within pre-arranged structured programs or positions.

Following an information session every January, students should browse our growing list of opportunities for studying, volunteering, or interning in Israel that may meet their interests.  Past recipients have been engaged in studying Middle East history and politics, improving their Hebrew or Arabic while living in a predominantly Israeli environment, researching in the Yad Vashem, National Holocaust Memorial and Museum archives, assisting in the art department at the Israel Museum, and volunteering with underprivileged youth.

Students should also talk with Professor Beckwith about experiencing daily life in Israel with the support of a Paradise fellowship.  Applications are due toward the end of winter term and successful applicants may then finalize their plans for their time in Israel.