The Religious Studies minor at Mills is an interdisciplinary program that explores religious traditions and their influences on the political, social, artistic, literary, and cultural developments of their respective communities. In their coursework, students develop skills in the critical analysis of texts, images, beliefs, and performances of a variety of religions both local and global.
Mills is home to a rich and diverse community of scholars who address the phenomenon of religion from a broad range of methodological and theoretical perspectives, including anthropology, archaeology, art history, comparative literature and literary theory, history, philosophy, cultural studies, and gender and sexuality studies. In keeping with Mills tradition, a number of religious studies course offerings also provide an emphasis on the experience of women and girls in religious systems, the role of religions in the cultural construction of gender and sexuality, and feminist critical perspectives in the academic study of religion. Students will investigate the ways in which religious identities intersect with race, class, gender, and ethnicity, among other categories of affiliation and identification.
In addition, students may choose, in consultation with their advisor, a select number of courses through cross-registration with the following institutions:
Graduate Theological Union, including:
- Center for Islamic Studies
- Center for Jewish Studies (GTU/UCB)
- Women’s Studies in Religion
- Center for Arts, Religion, and Education
- Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences
- Center for the Study of Religion and Culture (GTU/UCB)
- Institute of Buddhist Studies
- Orthodox Institute (PAOI)
The religious studies minor complements a wide range of majors; and the minor's multidisciplinary nature affords students intellectual training for graduate work in a number of different disciplines. Understanding the ways in which belief systems and cultures interact supports students in preparing for careers in psychology, education, international relations, international business, journalism, government, medical and health services, social services, and law.
Religious identities—personal, local, and global—have received escalating attention in both community and world affairs. Students who have the opportunity to critically explore the intersections of belief systems and cultures are better equipped to fulfill the Mills goal of excellence in local and global leadership.
- Understand the methods and forms of research and analysis in the discipline of religious studies.
- Recognize the influence religious and spiritual tradition have on human experiences, cultures, artistic expressions, institutions, texts and historical periods.
- Understand the complexity and diversity of global religious and spiritual traditions.
REL 040: Introduction to the Study of Religions (3 Credits)
This course introduces key concepts and theoretical questions in the academic study of religion drawing on methodology and the content of multiple disciplines. It explores the ways in which religious thought, texts, rituals, and phenomena function in different traditions and in different historical and geographical contexts within traditions. Students will examine the ways in which religious identity interacts with other aspects of identity such as gender, class, ability, race, sexuality, and national origin.
Note(s): Open to undergraduates only.
Meets the following Gen Ed requirements: Human Institutions and Behavior, Multicultural Perspectives
Religious Studies Program Goals
- Understand the methods and forms of research and analysis in the discipline of religious studies. (Introduced)
- The students will identify basic concepts from the discipline of religious studies.
- Recognize the influence religious and spiritual traditions have on human experiences, cultures, artistic expressions, institutions, texts and historical periods. (Introduced)
- The student will produce writing that addresses the impact of religious and spiritual traditions on society.
- Understand the complexity and diversity of global religious and spiritual traditions. (Introduced)
- The student will identify how their own experiences of historical, social, cultural, and class location impact the way they read texts and articulate this identification in writing and class discussion.
- The student will understand the relationships between history, religion, and culture and the ways religious texts, beliefs, and institutions both reflect and affect these relationships.
General Education Goals:
Human Institutions & Behavior
- Have a command of the basic concepts from one of the disciplines (Introduced)
- The students will identify basic concepts from the academic study of religion.
- Apply basic findings from one of the disciplines (Introduced)
- The student will apply ideas and theories in the academic study of religion to empirical and ethnographic data from a variety of religious traditions.
- Recognize that human behavior is affected by factors ranging from the psychological to the global (Introduced)
- The student will discuss the relation between personal, interpersonal, and institutional processes of religious traditions.
- Demonstrate understanding of culture and cultural identities as dynamic rather than fixed categories, and describe the diverse ways in which they are produced, transformed, and maintained (Introduced)
- The student will identify examples in course texts which demonstrate cultures and cultural identities as dynamic rather than fixed categories, and describe the diverse ways in which they are produced, transformed, and maintained
- Demonstrate knowledge of the history of racial and ethnic formation and stratification in national and transnational contexts, considering the intersections of race, ethnicity, class, gender, and sexuality (Introduced)
- The student will identify and explain examples drawn from course texts which illustrate the role of religion in racial and ethnic formation considering the intersections of race, ethnicity, class, gender, and sexuality
- Demonstrate an understanding of processes of group formation and describe how marginalized groups have used diverse strategies to challenge racism and discrimination (Introduced)
- The student will identify and explain examples drawn from course texts which illustrate the use of religion as a tool to support group formation and cohesion in diaspora and to resist racism and discrimination.
- Deploy the necessary critical tools to reflect on the artistic, literary, and intellectual traditions of marginalized groups-both nationally and internationally-and to appreciate the diversity of human thought and experience (Introduced)
- The student will consider how literary and artistic texts are both grounded in and disruptive of religious, ethnic, and geographic boundaries.
REL 180: Special Topics (3-4 Credits)
Vera Long 113, 925.285.8664, firstname.lastname@example.org
Professional Interests: Ancient Near East, archaeology, scholarly publishing
Eugene E. Trefethen, Jr., Professorship in Art History
Assistant Professor of Art and Art History
Art Room 106, 510.430.3287, email@example.com
Professional Interests: The Italian Renaissance, especially late Renaissance art and architecture in Venice; concepts of violence and justice in early modern visual culture; popular poetry and Florentine portraiture; art and the legal system
Alice Andrews Quigley Professorship of Women’s Studies
Associate Professor of Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies
Religious Studies Program Head
Vera Long 128, 510.430.3249, firstname.lastname@example.org
Professional Interests: Women in world religions; theoretical approaches to gender, body, and sexuality; religion in public discourse
Visiting Assistant Professor, Fall
Visiting Assistant Professor
Mills Hall Room 330, 510.430.2372, email@example.com
Professional Interests: Bible, bible in modern literature, Bakhtinian theory
Professor of English
Certificate of Commendation for the Advancement of Digital Learning
Mills Hall Room 311, 510.430.2213, firstname.lastname@example.org
Professional Interests: African American literature, 19th-century American literature, US popular culture, the oral tradition in US literature, Black feminist thought, African American art
Holly G. Robinson
Faculty Administrative Assistant
Vera Long Building, 510.430.2113, email@example.com