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University Catalog

Religious Studies

Susanna L. Goodin, Department Head
Paul V.M. Flesher, Program Director
122 Ross Hall
Phone: (307) 766-3204



PAUL V. M. FLESHER, B.A. University of Rochester 1979; M.Phil. Oxford University 1982; Ph.D. Brown University 1988; Professor of Religious Studies 2012, 1993.

Associate Professor

KRISTINE T. UTTERBACK, B.M. Bowling Green State University 1972; M.M. University of Wisconsin 1977; M.A. 1977; M.A. University of Toronto 1979; Ph.D. Center for Medieval Studies, University of Toronto 1985; Associate Professor of Religious Studies 2008, 1986.

Visiting Assistant Professor

TAMMY HEISE, B.A. Hendrix College 1998; M.A. Vanderbilt University 2006; Ph.D. Florida State University 2016; Visiting Assistant Professor of Religious Studies 2015.

Senior Academic Professional Lecturer

SETH WARD, B.A. Yale University 1974; M.A. 1978; M.Phil. 1979; Ph.D. 1984; Senior Academic Professional of Religious Studies 2017, 2003.

Academic Professional Lecturers

TYLER S. FALL, B.A. Mary Washington College 1999; M.A. University of Oregon 2004; M.F.A. University of Wyoming 2009; Associate Academic Professional Lecturer of Religious Studies 2017, 2012.
B.A. Williams College 1987; M.A. Syracuse University 1992; Ph.D. 1999; Associate Academic Professional of Religious Studies 2017, 2012.

Adjunct Faculty

ERIN ABRAHAM, B.A. University of Wyoming 2004; M.A. 2007; Ph.D. Saint Louis University 2011; Assistant Academic Professional Lecturer of Honors Program 2011; Adjunct Assistant Academic Professional Lecturer of Religious Studies 2015.
ERIC W. NYE, B.A. St. Olaf College 1974; M.A. University of Chicago 1976; Ph.D. 1983; Associate Professor of English 1989, 1983; Adjunct Professor of Religious Studies 2015.
SALLY L. PALMER, B.A. The Colorado College 1966; Ph.D. Rutgers University 1971; M.Div. The Iliff School of Theology 1977; Adjunct Lecturer of Religious Studies 2010.

Professor Emerita

Gladys M. Crane

Religious Studies

Throughout history, religion has played an important role in shaping cultures and societies. Religious beliefs have inspired armies in their wars and leaders in their decisions. Religions have provided the foundation for ethical behavior and in many societies have been the primary source of education. In today's world, religions remain important, influencing our responses to 9/11, the Arab Spring, the Middle East crisis, and other events in other around the world. Even in our own secular United States, religions and their beliefs play a major role in our debates over public policy.

The Religious Studies department offers a range of courses in the academic study of religions. These courses seek to acquaint students with religious beliefs and behavior, helping them to understand the ability of religions to define the world in which their adherents live and the power religions have to influence the behavior of their followers. Religious Studies courses cover a broad range of religions, both modern and historical. Some courses focus on understanding a single religion in a limited time period, while others compare aspects of different religions. Yet further courses focus on religious expression, studying how religious beliefs are depicted in literature, film, art and music. Many of these courses are offered by the Religious Studies department, while others can be found in various departments, including anthropology, art, English, history and sociology.

Undergraduate Major

A major in Religious Studies requires 33 hours (11 courses) plus a second major or minor in another discipline.

For students completing their degree under the 2015 University Studies Program:

Two required courses (6 hours):

1) RELI 1000, Introduction to Religion.
2) RELI 4000, Theories of Religion.

Concurrent Concentration I (9 hours):

Students should acquire a focused concentration by taking three courses (1) on a single religion, or (2) on the religions of a particular region or culture. Courses may be from a limited time period or spread across history. Students may choose from established concentrations or create their own concentration in consultation with their adviser. [Six hours must be above 3000-level.]

Concurrent Concentration II (9 hours):

Students should take three courses in a religion, region, or culture differing significantly from that of the first concentration. [Six hours must be above 3000-level.]


Three courses in Religious Studies (see note 2 below) chosen in accordance with the student’s interests. [Six hours must be above 3000-level.]


Students should take three semesters of a single foreign language or demonstrate equivalent proficiency. See note 3 below.


Minor or second major in a different field/discipline.

For all Religious Studies Majors:


If a student wishes to pursue an Honors designation in Religious Studies, two additional requirements must be fulfilled.

A) A three-hour Thesis Seminar or Internship, during which a research paper is written, or other suitable research project is carried out.
B) Demonstration of competency in a foreign language equivalent to a fourth-semester college-level course.


  1. If students majoring in Religious Studies can use its courses to satisfy requirements in a second major or minor, this is permitted.
  2. Courses for the major should be drawn from those with a RELI prefix, or from a list of approved courses taught by other departments or programs. See the list of approved courses on the Religious Studies website. In each of the concentrations, only one course may be from outside RELI offerings. Two such courses may be used as electives. Occasionally, courses on religion are taught by outside departments as one-time opportunities. Students may propose these for inclusion in the major to the director of the Religious Studies department.
  3. The language requirement may be satisfied with American Sign Language (ASL) or, with the approval of the department, coursework in another form of non-English communication (e.g. computer science, statistics, music composition).
  4. All courses must be passed with a grade of C or better.

Undergraduate Minor

The Minor in Religious Studies requires eighteen hours of relevant courses, all with a grade of “C” or higher. These should consist of courses as set out below:

  1. RELI 1000,  Introduction to Religion
  2. RELI 4000, Theories of Religion, a capstone course.
  3. Twelve hours of courses focusing on issues in the study of religions, nine of which should be at the 3000 level or higher. See note 2.

Graduate Study

At present, no program for a graduate degree in religious studies is offered; however, some courses may be counted at the graduate level.

Religious Studies (RELI) Courses

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