Spring 2024

DESR students are required to take three courses. Two of these comprise the core curriculum, and one is an elective selected from a list of courses offered by the DESR faculty.


STRELIG 200: Methods in the Study of Religion

Methods in the Study of Religion is an introduction to methodological best practices in the Study of Religion from the perspectives of different fields. It is made up of multiple modules that combine the study of primary sources with exemplary methodological approaches. These approaches include but are not limited to: anthropological theories of religion and society, historical genealogies of categories of religion and the secular, theology and Church history, sociological approaches to issues like religious organization and conflict, religion and science, religious literature and Biblical hermeneutics, as well as particular religious histories.

STRELIG 201: Histories of the Study of Religion

Histories of the Study of Religion is an introduction to the history and development of the field of “Religious Studies” as an intellectual space for the study of a sometimes historicized, sometimes naturalized phenomenon called “religion.” Since the narration of any history of the study of religion serves to circumscribe a particular set of phenomena as “religious,” this course does not isolate a canonical history of the field. Instead, it progresses in a roughly diachronic manner, through a number of thematic threads representing the development of different domains of the study of religion.


Additionally, students must complete one elective course from a list of pre-approved graduate courses on religion. In some instances, students may petition for other, relevant courses to be counted towards their elective requirement. If a course is offered for variable units, students must enroll at the maximum possible unit value. Potential elective courses will vary depending on faculty teaching plans in a given semester.


Core Courses

Religion, Race, and Secularism (STRELIG 200)
Carolyn Chen
Thursdays, 9:30 am -12:30 pm, 554 Social Sciences Building (not 442 Stephens Hall)
Class #: 25982

What does religion have to do with race in the modern secular West? Despite classical social theory’s prediction of religion’s demise in modernity, religion continues to persist, and even to thrive especially among racial-ethnic minority groups in the West. Race and religion have undergirded some of the most notable modern social movements in the United States, such as Civil Rights, Black Power, United Farm Workers, the Sanctuary Movement, and even White Christian Nationalism. This graduate seminar examines the changing expressions of religion and race as they intersect with modernity, capitalism, and secularization. We will engage with theories of religion and secularization by authors such as Max Weber, Charles Taylor and Talal Asad, and put them into critical conversation with historical, and theological works of religion and race today.

Elective Courses

Public Health and Spirituality
Doug Oman
Wednesdays, 12 – 1:59 pm, Berkeley Way West 1212
Class #: 27166

This course presents a brief introduction to the emerging field of spirituality and health. We examine scholarly and scientific views of links between spirituality, religion, and health. Topics include highlights and overviews of the rapidly emerging scientific evidence base, public health relevance, collaborations with faith-based organizations, and other practical applications.

Readings in Indian Buddhist Texts
Alexander Von Rospatt
Wednesdays,  2 – 4:59 pm, In-Person
Class #: 26335

This graduate seminar focuses on reading a wide spectrum of Indian Buddhist texts in the Sanskrit (or Pali) original introducing the students to different genres, and different aspects of Indian Buddhism. The students taking the course for two units (rather than four) will be expected to prepare thoroughly every week for the reading of Buddhist texts in the original. They will also be expected to read all related secondary literature that is assigned to supplement the study of the primary source material. In contrast to the students taking the course for four units, they will not be expected to write a term paper or to prepare special presentations for class.