Administrative Information

Director of Undergraduate Studies: Prof. Wayne Proudfoot, Room 301, 80 Claremont; 851-4142;

Academic Department Administrator: Meryl Marcus, Room 103B, 80 Claremont; 851-4124;

Departmental Office: Room 103, 80 Claremont; 851-4122

Gil Anidjar
Peter Awn
Courtney Bender
Elizabeth Castelli (Barnard)
Katherine Pratt Ewing
Bernard Faure
John Hawley (Barnard)
Wayne Proudfoot
Robert Somerville
Mark Taylor (chair)
Robert Thurman

Associate Professors
Beth Berkowitz (Barnard)
Michael Como
Rachel McDermott (Barnard)
David (Max) Moerman (Barnard)

Assistant Professors
Najam Haider (Barnard)
Katharina Ivanyi
Gale Kenny (Term) (Barnard)
Josef Sorett

Visiting Scholar
Obery Hendricks

David Kittay
Thomas Yarnall

Lecturer, Classical Tibetan
Paul Hackett

The Religion Department's curriculum is designed to engage students in critical, comparative and interdisciplinary exploration of religious life. The faculty's research and teaching build upon the shared understandings that religion continues to be a central and influential component of human life, society and politics—and that furthermore, religious transmission and authority are constantly being shaped in dynamic interactions with other religious traditions, societies, and cultures. Courses and seminars in religion teach students how to analyze and investigate religious texts, histories, beliefs, bodies, and communities, using a variety of disciplinary and methodological approaches.

Majors and concentrators in religion gain both a foundation in the study of religious traditions in historical contexts and also grounding in theoretical and methodological debates that shape academic and public discussions about religion. Lecture courses, seminars and colloquia are designed to balance students' growing understanding of particular religious topics, dynamics, and traditions with intensive engagement with critical theoretical, political, and philosophical debates. Students are encouraged to pursue a course of study in which they develop both breadth and depth, as well as the tools and expertise to pose (and even answer) necessary questions about religious phenomena of the past or present.

As the study of religion is truly interdisciplinary, students find their work in the department enhanced by their coursework in the College's Core curriculum and in related departments. Many religion courses are listed in the College's Global Core requirement, and numerous religious works are central texts in Literature Humanities and Contemporary Civilization. Majors and concentrators are required to take courses outside of religion in related fields to expand their vision of approaches to religion. In addition, the University's wide offerings in the languages of various religious traditions (including Arabic, Chinese, Greek, Hebrew, Japanese, Persian, Latin, Sanskrit, and Tibetan) augment many students' abilities to conduct research in religion. Students likewise are actively encouraged to explore the world-renowned archival resources within Columbia's libraries (including the Rare Book and Manuscript Room, the Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary, the C.V. Starr East Asian Library) and likewise to explore and investigate the equally wide range of living religious communities represented in New York's global neighborhoods.

Prospective majors should first arrange to meet with the director of undergraduate studies. All students are then allocated a faculty adviser, and must submit a copy of the Declaration of Major form to the director of undergraduate studies. After agreeing upon a plan for the major or concentration, students must obtain final approval and confirmation from the director of undergraduate studies.

Departmental Honors

Students who write a senior thesis and maintain a GPA of 3.66 or above in the major may be considered for departmental honors. Writing a senior thesis qualifies a student for consideration for departmental honors but does not assure it. Normally no more than 10% of graduating majors each year may receive departmental honors.

Graduate Courses

Graduate courses of interest, open to qualified undergraduates with the instructor’s permission, are described in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Bulletin.

Course Numbering

Courses are numbered by level and type:

  1. 2000-level: Introductory and “traditions” lectures
  2. 3000-level: Intermediate lecture
  3. 4000-level: Undergraduate seminar

and field:

  1. x000 -099: Buddhism
  2. x100-199: Christianity
  3. x200-299: Hinduism
  4. x300-399: Islam
  5. x400-499: East Asian religious traditions
  6. x500-599: Judaism
  7. x600-699: North American religions
  8. x700-799: Philosophy of religion
  9. x800-899: Comparative
  10. x900 -999: Methodological, theoretical, research