Why should I care about Interfaith Studies?
The world around us shaped, formed, and structured in large part by people’s religious beliefs – whether these form part of a tradition or are unique to the individual. Religious traditions offer the means by which vast swathes of the world understand and reflect on the meaning of life – in the here and now, and in the hereafter.
Interfaith Studies allows you to study both the content of religious traditions as well as the ways in which they have come to interact during their long, and often contentious, histories.
What is Interfaith Studies?
Interfaith Studies is a new and primarily inter-disciplinary field that draws on methods and insight from across the social sciences and humanities.
It examines the multiple ways in which people who orient their lives around religious beliefs interact with one another – and the implications of these interactions for everyday communities, broader society, and global politics.
This can include studying the theological meaning of concepts within a religious tradition, and how they shift our understanding of the other, to studying the practical and pragmatic dialogues that emerge between different communities in our plural world.
The Importance of Religious Beliefs
In her book The Mighty and the Almighty, former US Secretary of State Madeline Albright writes:
“When I was secretary of state, I had an entire bureau of economic experts I could turn to, and a cadre of experts on non-proliferation and arms control. . . .
I did not have similar expertise available for integrating religious principles into our efforts at diplomacy” (2006, 75)
This is an important reminder of the importance of understanding people for advocating and driving change in our contemporary world – and that doing so requires a deeper understanding of their motivations.
So often, knowingly or unknowingly, our motivations are impacted by our religious and theological beliefs, shaping our social world around us.
The goal of Interfaith Studies is to provide you with the tool and skills needed to firmly locate yourself within this matrix of belief and to build effective partnerships across religious boundaries.
More on modules
Our modules are inspired by the scholarship of the professors and the lecturers who’ll be teaching you. You’ll be introduced to the MA via a module that sets out the methodological and theoretical basis of the field of Interfaith Studies. This module also aims to provide you with a good grounding in academic skills and practices in preparation for your other later modules – this is especially important if you are returning to study or have not studied aspects of religion before.
Your later modules will differ year on year as we bring forward new and exciting themes in our teaching. We have strengths as a department in aspects of Jewish-Christian Relations, Religious Experience and Ritual, and Christian-Muslim relations – all of which have formed the basis of our current teaching.
Interested? Getting started
Our Interfaith Studies courses are open to you whether or not you have a background in theology, religious studies, or the wider humanities. Many of our students come to this are from wider backgrounds, including finance, business, and the sciences.
We have a wealth of experience providing University accredited postgraduate qualifications from the online classroom, straight to your door, whether in the UK or across the globe.
A flourishing online community of students
Our students are located all over the globe, and we have a range of research and course-related activities that encourage a sense of community amongst our postgraduates
You’ll be part of this supportive and vibrant community, where you can chat to one another via various online forums and webinars. This includes our annual Interfaith Colloquium in the Summer, our ongoing Research Series in Religion, as well as plenty of one-off events and lectures.