School of Interdisciplinary Studies Religious Studies

Religious Studies

The root concern of religion is the quest for the ultimate meaning of reality. How this Ultimate is understood structures and gives meaning to the human world. Religion is, as such, one of the most important pursuits of humankind, having a profound impact on human history through art, philosophy, politics, and the way societies and groups are organized and behave.

The Religious Studies Program at Purdue University offers students the opportunity to investigate how the different religious traditions of the world seek and understand Ultimate Reality, how this understanding influences human action and belief about the world, and how historical contexts influence religious thought and practice. By learning about the different religious traditions of the world and their historical contexts, students will cultivate a critical appreciation of diverse religious traditions.

Students will have the opportunity to conduct this study from the perspective of different departments at Purdue, such as English, History, Philosophy, and Sociology and Anthropology. Such an interdepartmental approach is designed to help students tailor the program to their special interests.

The Religious Studies faculty is composed of associated faculty in the departments of Anthropology, English, Languages and Cultures, History, Philosophy, and Sociology. The program currently has roughly 50 majors and minors. Faculty members are active with the American Academy of Religion.

News & Events//Spring 2017

March 2017
Monday, March 6: "Mouride Muslims in South Africa" Exhibition opens at the Black Cultural Center.  Ms. Iris Parker's series 'Mouride Muslims in South Africa' documents a celebration of Chaikh AamaduBakke by one of the Mouride Muslim Mosques in Johnnesburg.  Parker seeks to demystify this particular branch of Islam, provide insight into their religious practices, and unpack the xenophobia they face as immigrants. 

Tuesday, March 7: 5:30-6:30 PM - Honors College STEAM Lab Join Iris Parker in 'The Kiss Series' using Gustav Klimt Painting - The Kiss- to contextualize and compare the historic social movements of resistance, love, and coming together.  Focusing on The Peoples' Pride movement in South Africa, Ms. Parker documents groups with diverse interests uniting to strive for equality and respect.  She will also address working overseas and using photography as a medium for social change.

Wednesday, March 8: Gallery Talk with Iris Dawn Parker 4:00 PM and Documentary photography workshop at 6:30 PM at the Black Cultural Center

Thursday, March 23: 3:30 - 4:30 PM ~ Jerry S Rawls Hall, Room 1071 'The Case for Stability, Alasdair Macintyre, the Benedictine Tradition and Qualitative Research on Catholic Parishes'.  Dr. Gwendolen Adams recently conducted a study at three Catholic parishes in the Diochese of Lafayette-in-Indiana, exploring parish life and the experience of long-term members. 


There are two primary ways to contribute to the vitality of the Religious Studies Program: 1) funding and 2) active participation. We hope you contribute in both ways.

What Your Financial Gift Can Do

Any gift, no matter how small, will make a difference to the program and will be greatly appreciated. Together, small gifts add up and enable us to do things we would not have been able to do otherwise. You may contribute online or send your gift to Purdue University, Program in Religious Studies, c/o Interdisciplinary Studies Business Office, 100 North University Street, West Lafayette, IN 47907-2098 (make check payable to the Religious Studies Program).

Here are some ways in which your gift can benefit the program.

  • Ten $15 gifts enable us to host a colloquium with a speaker from Purdue.
  • $150 will enable us to host a reception so that interested students can get to know the Religious Studies faculty as well as majors and minors already in the program.
  • $200 gift would provide for a single undergraduate writing award.
  • $250 will allow us to provide a forum where undergraduate students can present their best work.
  • Five $200 gifts, or one $1,000 gift will enable the program to bring an outside speaker to present a public lecture to the campus community and to interact with students.
  • A $4,500 gift could provide the endowment for an annual undergraduate writing award.
  • A $5,000 gift could provide a new course development grant.
  • A $10,000 gift could provide for a summer faculty research grant.
  • A $30,000 gift could provide an endowment for four annual faculty colloquia.
  • A $60,000 gift could provide the means for a visiting scholar to teach and research at Purdue for one year.
  • A $1.5 million gift could create a permanent, named faculty position that would allow the program to expand its coverage.
  • A $2 million gift could create a named professorship for attracting new world class faculty to the university.

What You Can Do

The Religious Studies events page lists upcoming events of special interest to its faculty and undergraduate majors and minors. But all are welcome: faculty, students, and staff with or without Religious Studies affiliation, as well as community members. Please check the events page regularly for new information, or join the "Friends of Religious Studies" by emailing the program director, Ashley Purpura at "Friends of Religious Studies" will receive reminder emails close to event dates, and will be tapped to provide input on future programming, both on and off campus.

Course Information

Purdue Admissions Website

Religious Studies Major

Religious Studies Minor

Beering Hall
Purdue University
100 North University Street
West Lafayette, IN 47907-2098
Google map

Academic Advising
Advisors Directory
(765) 494.3670
(765) 496.1910 (FAX)

Undergraduate students

Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907 (765) 494-4600

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