The World Religions course is a fabulous opportunity to teach students to think critically about the various representations of the world’s religious traditions. With the critique of the world religions paradigm and its colonial roots (see Masuzawa’s Invention fo World Religions), as well as problematic assumptions contained in any singular description of world religions (see, for example, my Culture on the Edge post The Harm of World Religions), it is vital to challenge singular narratives and to help our students learn to analyze whatever narrative they hear.
I’ve written a number of blog posts over the years about the skills that students in the academic study of religion acquire. It’s worth thinking about because too many people seem focused only on the content of an undergrad degree, assuming that the thing that you study is the thing that you’ll do.
It’s an effect of the longstanding professionalization of the university, of course (whereby specialties once reserved for separate, two-year colleges or tech schools moved into the university and became degree programs, thereby lending undergrad the feel of job training), with a big dollop of the 2008 financial/housing/job market collapse thrown in for good measure. Add to this declining state support for public universities (whereby a significant portion of the costs of higher ed have been transferred from state coffers to individuals’/families’ bank accounts) and you understandably arrive at a situation where many have trouble understanding doing an undergrad degree in some wide or general topic that might not have many obvious or direct paths to a steady pay check.
But this isn’t just a problem for Religious Studies, for one would be naive to think that all those English majors become English teachers, right? And it’s not like History majors all become historians — whether that means going on to graduate studies to become history professors or getting jobs with historical preservation societies or wherever else an historian might work.
But it’s still worth being an English or History major, right? Continue reading
We’ve been working for some time, here in REL, to shift attention from the data to the skills — did you ever notice how our Department logo steers clear of a kaleidoscope of world religions symbols and, instead, focuses firmly on the place where we do our work?
That wasn’t an accident. Continue reading
As discussions about the relevance of what we do in religious studies, and academia in general, have become more common lately, my own emphases have coalesced around the skills that the humanities help scholars (whether students or faculty or interested blog readers) develop. And that emphasis on skills is not limited to our work in the classroom.
One of our faculty posted this article the other day — “Why Google doesn’t care about hiring top college graduates” — and I thought it worth re-posting here. In the article, Google’s head of people operations, Laszlo Bock, discussed the qualities that the company seeks in people they hire: “And increasingly, it’s not about credentials.” Continue reading
Did you read what our recent guest lecturer had to say about her time in REL?
Last summer, Kiplinger–of the “Timely, Trusted Personal Financial Advice” fame–published a list of the worst college majors for your career. Guess what made the number four spot on the top ten list?