Department of Religious Studies

Religious Studies

The Department of Religious Studies at Brown University provides students with an understanding of a variety of religious traditions, an exposure to the academic approaches employed within the academic study of religion, as well as an opportunity to explore diverse intellectual, social-theoretical, cultural, and ethical issues that arise when one considers the various manifestations of religion in human affairs.

The graduate program in Religious Studies, with select areas of concentrated strength, is one of the finest in the world, and the undergraduate program is broad and creative, serving a large number of students both inside and outside the concentration.

Religious Studies strives to be an open, inclusive department. In addition to combatting all forms of discrimination, including racism, sexism, and homophobia, we are committed to fostering an appreciation of diverse perspectives in our curriculum, departmental activities, and faculty and student development. 


The academic study of religion cultivates understanding of societies and cultures throughout the world by exploring religious thought and practice in various historical, geographic, and political contexts.
The graduate program in Religious Studies at Brown is one of the finest in the nation.

Recent News

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Professor Daniel Vaca (Brown) together with Laura McTicghe (NYU) and Elayne Oliphant (NYU) win a prestigious grant from the Henry Luce Foundation for their project “Creating the World Anew: Religion and Mutual Aid.” The project seeks to “identify and foster connections between religious and economic dimensions of human flourishing.” The idea is to explore the relationship between religion and mutual aid, with the ultimate goal to fund what they call “local mutual aid experiments,” on the ground community action, to help make positive change.
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The MIT Press and Brown University Library’s Digital Publications Initiative announce the publication of "A New Vision for Islamic Pasts and Futures" by Shahzad Bashir.

An interactive, open-access born-digital publication, this groundbreaking book’s interface encourages engagement with rich visual material and multimedia evidence.

The book decenters Islam from a geographical identification with the Middle East, an articulation through men’s authority alone, and the assumption that premodern expressions are more authentically Islamic than modern ones. Aimed at a wide international audience, the book consists of engaging stories and audiovisual materials that will enable readers at all levels to appreciate Islam as an aspect of global history for centuries. The book URL is

In "A New Vision for Islamic Pasts and Futures," Bashir discusses Islam as phenomenon and as discourse—observed in the built environment, material objects, paintings, linguistic traces, narratives, and social situations. He draws on literary genres, including epics, devotional poetry and prayers, and modern novels; art and architecture in varied forms; material culture, from luxury objects to cheap trinkets; and such forms of media as photographs, graffiti, and films.

The publication of "A New Vision for Islamic Pasts and Futures" is supported by the Mellon Foundation, the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the MIT Press, and the Brown University Library’s Digital Publications Initiative.

Click the link below to read the full announcement, including a link to the publication and the MIT Press news site, which features an interview with Prof. Bashir.
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Our staff and faculty support students in fulfilling their research, teaching and learning goals.
Religious Studies faculty and students engage in a wide array of research. View highlights of ongoing projects in the field.

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