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The Center for the Study of Religion was established in 2007 to encourage and support scholarly research on religion(s) at The Ohio State University.  Without expectation of generating consensus, and without advocating for or against any specific religious perspective, the CSR cultivates disciplined reflection—among faculty, students, and a wider public—on three interrelated sets of issues:

Specific Religions: Capitalizing on Ohio State's exceptional breadth of expertises-ranging from the religions of Bronze-age Mediterranean to those of medieval India and Europe to those of pre-Columbian Latin America and the contemporary USA-we encourage attention to both ‘world religions’ as well as small-scaled, local and indigenous traditions; attention to both mainstream religious ideas and practices as well as the very wide diversity that exists within all large religious traditions; attention to both cross-cultural parallels across religious traditions as well as the unique specificities of each respective tradition; and attention to both contemporary religious movements and debates as well as their historical precursors.  In principle, we are interested in religious phenomena in all contexts and eras.

'Religion' in General: The center also encourages critical reflection on the relative merits and limitations of the countless very different ways that ‘religion’ has been conceived and defined-e.g., religion as an innate and universal human proclivity for spiritual pursuits; as a rule-based set of beliefs, practices and social institutions; as an ideological consequence of socio-economic processes; as a culturally-specific system of ideas and symbols embedded within other cultural systems; as a Eurocentric instrument of colonialist domination; as a set of neuro-biologically based responses to environmental conditions; and/or ‘religion’ as a heuristic category constructed and utilized primarily by scholars.  In short, instead of endorsing any single conception of religion, we acknowledge that alternative definitions have been and are serviceable for alternative sorts of theoretical and constructive undertakings.

The Study of Religion: We recognize that the resources for studying religion include not only written texts and spoken languages but also works of art, architecture, music and drama as well as myriad social practices and institutions.  So-termed ‘Religious Studies’ is, by nature, an interdisciplinary field rather than a discipline per se, which therefore requires the active involvement of Ohio State faculty from numerous different departments (as evidenced by the wide participation on our oversight committee).  Moreover, we appreciate that a hallmark of sound scholarship on religion is considered familiarity with the methods, theories and history of the field, all of which we regard as matters of utmost importance.  In short, the center is strongly committed to fostering clarity and critical self-consciousness about what is at issue in the academic study of religion.

It is possible to pursue both a major or a minor in Religious Studies at OSU. For information on the major, click here.  For information on the minor, click here.

Director: Isaac Weiner

Associate Director: Hannibal Hamlin

Graduate Research Associate: Shurouq Ibrahim


2023-2024 Oversight Committee

Mark Bender - East Asian Languages and Literatures
Katherine Borland - Comparative Studies / Center for Folklore Studies
Cynthia Burack - Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies (currently on Faculty Professional Leave)
Melissa Curley - Comparative Studies (currently on Faculty Professional Leave)
Jessica Delgado - History / Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies
Spencer Dew - Comparative Studies
Bert Harrill - History
Christopher Highley - English / Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies
Richard Jagacinski - Psychology
Sarah Johnston - Classics
Robin Judd - History
Michael Swartz - Near Eastern and South Asian Languages and Cultures 
Hugh Urban - Comparative Studies


Graduate Student Board Members:

Savannah FinverComparative Studies / Center for the Study of Religion

Zari Mahmoudi - Near Eastern and South Asian Languages and Cultures 


Undergraduate Religious Studies Club

One way for undergraduates to become involved is through the Religious Studies Club at OSU