Mission Statement

The Department of Religious Studies is the principal hub and focal point at Stanford University for the academic study of religion, that is, the study of both religion as a phenomenon and of specific religious traditions, from a scholarly and critical standpoint, using the tools and methods of various disciplines in the humanities and social sciences.

By developing and maintaining a coordinated program of undergraduate and graduate courses broadly representative of the major areas, themes, and methods of Religious Studies, the Department seeks to afford all Stanford students the means to enhance their knowledge and appreciation of religion as an important aspect of the human experience and of the world’s cultural diversity, with a view to enriching their education and equipping them for global citizenship.

By recruiting scholars and teachers who are leaders in their fields, and by ensuring a depth of expertise in its various areas of concentration, the Department also aims to contribute to the advancement of research in Religious Studies and to the training of graduate students in the field in a way befitting Stanford’s status as a world-class research university.

In addition, the Department commits itself to contributing to the public understanding of religion and its role in human affairs, by working in collaboration with other Stanford departments and affiliated centers dedicated to the study of particular religious traditions, to stage lectures, symposia, and other events directed towards the wider community.

In embracing these objectives, the Department aspires to make Stanford one of the premier places in the world for the study of religion, conceiving of religion not simply as a fact of life, a product of history, or a force in the contemporary world to be known and understood, but also as something that by its very nature prompts critical reflection on knowledge itself, and on what it means to be human.

February 2013