More than ever before, the world we live in is both multicultural and global. We no longer need to travel across the ocean to visit a Hindu temple or an Islamic mosque or to meet a Sikh or a Jain. The chances are that you can find a temple or mosque within a few miles of where you live, and it is almost certain that you will be meet someone from any and all of these religious traditions on campus or on the street. This makes it even more essential that we cultivate our ability to understand and interpret other people’s religious traditions.
Finally, the academic study of religion is inherently multidisciplinary. This is reflected in our program here at Washington University, which draws faculty from different disciplines in the humanities and the social sciences, such as history, anthropology, literature, art history, and political science. Studying religion thus provides you an opportunity to learn about a range of disciplinary approaches, and, even more importantly, the connections and linkages among them. In this way studying religion invites us all to think in a more interdisciplinary and integral way about the world and our place in it.