Dartmouth’s Religion faculty discuss the value of a liberal arts education

– [Narrator 1] Religion
is not disappearing, it’s becoming one of the
central organizing forces in many different countries and globally. – [Narrator 2] Religion is a big part of human self identity, right now. – [Narrator 3] Religion
has been a pervasive and dominating force, for
as far as we can tell. – [Narrator 4] I think it really is about how people place
themselves in the universe. What are we doing here? Where do we come from? Where are we going? Why are we here? Why is there rain? What happens after death? And so on. (piano music) – I think the academic study of Religion is a kind of portal to the liberal arts. – A religion teaches students
to be empathetic readers, of putting themselves
in the perspectives and viewpoints of somebody, perhaps radically different from them. – If you’re interested
in studying human beings, as they’re making meaning
to their lives and giving value to their lives. The study of religion is going to give you a lot of analytical
tools in that regard. – Above all, perhaps
all other disciplines, it provides an inside into
what it means to be human. – I think a religion major, you can kind of take it in
whatever direction you want. – When I considered, wow, which department is going to give me a
certain sense of structure, but also breathing space. Religion was it. – It has a lot of intersections
with other fields of study. Like, literature, politics, sociology. – Women and gender studies,
film, economics, history and classics, and of all
these courses were still under the umbrella of religion. – Businesses like people
who study religion because it shows they have
an understanding of ethics. Hospitals like people who study religion because they have an
understanding of ethics that can apply. – Medical school,
because of the importance of being able to understand
other people’s cultures when you treat them as patients. – Attorneys, entrepreneurs, physicians. – Artists, philosophers, everything. – The religion department at Dartmouth has the huge advantage of having a large faculty compared to the number of students who want to major in religion. Which means that our
students get considerable, individualized, attention. – The relationship between
students and faculty is unlike anything I’ve seen in any other place. – Because so many of
the religion courses are discussion based or have a
strong discussion component, I feel like I have really gotten to know the other people in my classes. – The time that our faculty
take to invest in the students, is really second to none. – It’s very easy to interact
with the religion professors. I think they’re very
friendly and out going. And they’re definitely
invested in the kids and they want to get to know you. – I think it’s a great
major if you want to just come out as an educated person
who’s able to read closely, write clearly and think critically. – They come out well schooled
in oral communication skills because they have a lot of
opportunity to speak in class because our classes are small and they come out very well schooled in critical thinking skills
because we have some of the world’s most interesting
text to think about. – The kind of student
who majors in religion, generally has to be curious
about themselves and about other people. Very open to other cultures, very questioning and challenging to your own ideas. – They like the kind of easy flow of conversation that tends to be characteristic
of our courses and it also offers them the opportunity to ask some big questions. – They tend to be students
who are more reflective, who are interested in questions
that’ll be significant to them throughout their life, not just questions of
preprofessional development. – One can look at questions about gender, culture, race, class and so many other aspects of human experience through the particular lines of religions. – Questions about yourself. Kind of, am I religious? Am I spiritual? Do I actually believe in this? – Very few other classes
I’ve taken where we actually debate things like
the existence of God or what is good, what is evil? – Bringing those questions together is the study of religion. – I think whether or not you
have personal religious beliefs studying religion is something that will give you immense personal gain. – You’re asking all of
these big questions, it’s something that has
global ramifications. But on the other side of things it’s also incredibly intimate and personal. – My professor asked me, and
asked the rest of the students, what questions keep you awake at night. And I would advise anyone
who’s coming to Dartmouth or pursuing a religion
major to ask themselves, what keeps you awake at night and how can you use the
opportunities that Dartmouth has to help you find some
answers to that question.


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