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Exploring the big questions

To study Religion is to reflect both sympathetically and critically on the ways human beings understand themselves and act in relationship to the world. This study encompasses matters of faith, action, human existence and the crises that have faced civilizations over time.

Our religion majors inquire rigorously into the big questions in an inter-religious and global context. Among the questions we ask together are: How do we understand, speak about, and relate to ultimate reality? What are we, and how should we act in light of our place in the universe? How do spiritual values shape the social order? What do we need to know about the religious traditions of the world in order to work toward mutual respect and reconciliation?

Our approach to these inquiries is both intellectual and experiential.

Special learning opportunities

Our faculty have collaborated with students on research projects on such topics as “Religion and Hip Hop” and “Spiritual but not Religious.”

Religion students have participated in recent off-campus programs that included study of religious traditions in such places as China, France, Japan, Jordan, Northern Ireland and Spain.

Earlham’s religion faculty are scholar-practitioners: people committed to trying to live the things we teach. Our teaching is both critical and sympathetic. We emphasize students' self-reflection and self-development along with objective knowledge. We want to help our students articulate their beliefs and values and to hold their own while maintaining openness in a religiously plural world.

Lilly library includes the Quaker collection, and we also collaborate with Quaker Fellows, Newlin Center, and campus Religious Life. We're blessed to have the seminary adjoining the college, which adds to the richness of our library holdings and to possibilities for advanced work for our students.


Our majors have gone on to Princeton, Yale, Harvard, Brandeis, Claremont, Union Theological Seminary in New York, the Graduate Theological Union, Starr King, Iliff, Candler and the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College.

Others have worked throughout the country and the world for social service agencies sponsored by religious bodies, often dedicating themselves to conflict resolution.

Some students seek graduate school preparation for careers in secondary or university teaching, and a number become counselors for religious and public service agencies.

Still others have gone into such diverse fields as the arts, medicine, public health, business, publishing, public relations and law.

Distinctively Earlham
Our approach to the study of religion is unusually interdisciplinary, in recognition of the fact that religious stances and systems interact with every aspect of human life and endeavor. In our course offerings we seek to balance hot and timely with cool and timeless.


About 80% of our courses are cross-listed with other departments and disciplines.
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