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Religious Studies

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Events and Accolades

Current Events

Study Abroad Opportunity: Religious Studies in Istanbul!

Fall 2013 will mark the first term of Study Abroad in Istanbul, located at the new UMN study center in the bustling Galata neighborhood of Istanbul. The new program will feature courses in Turkish language & culture, Political Science, Sociology, Religious Studies, Food Science, and Graphic Design, as well as a 10-day study tour to Rome, Italy. Select students will be eligible for an $800 program fee discount for participating in a semester-long evaluation group. More details are available online: Application deadline is May 1. For more information, contact Eric Leinen ( at the Learning Abroad Center.
Learn More (PDF)

Upcoming Events

Past Events


Traveling Turkey with Taylor

Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey

Religious Studies major Taylor is traveling abroad in Istanbul this semester. Get a first person account of what it is like to live, eat, study, and travel in Turkey on Taylor's very own blog.

Traveling Turkey with Taylor


Religious Studies Annual Faculty Lecture Presented by Nabil Matar

On March 27. 2014 Nabil Matar, Professor of Religious Studies and English, presented a lecture titled "Church and State: John Locke and Islam 1632-1704."

This lecture examined the writings of John Locke from 1660 until 1690 and focused on the transformation in his thought regarding toleration of non-Christians. In particular, it showed how Locke was the first European philosopher to argue not only for the “civil rights” of Muslims in the Christian polity, but also advocated their naturalization as subjects of the Stuart Crown.


Bodhisattva as Poet: Hakuin's Readings of Cold Mountain, A Lecture by Paul Rouzer (ALL)

The Program in Religious Studies Faculty Lecture presents Bodhisattva as Poet: Hakuin's Readings of Cold Mountain, to be lectured on by Professor Paul Rouzer of the Department of Asian Languages and Literatures. The body of medieval Chinese poems attributed to the recluse Hanshan (Cold Mountain) has played a prominent part in the religious lives of educated East Asian Buddhists, especially those active in the Chan (Zen) movement. However, few modern scholars have read the poems in the light of a hagiographical tradition that portrays Cold Mountain as an incarnation of Manjushri, the Bodhisattva of wisdom. This lecture will examine the impact of this claim on the interpretation of the poems, with special attention paid to the book–length commentary on them composed by the eighteenth–century Japanese Zen master Hakuin Ekaku (1686–1768).

Bridging Cultures: Islam and the West

Bridging Cultures: Islam and the West, a 30-minute television program associated with the Shared Cultural Spaces conference held at the University of Minnesota in 2011, is now available for viewing on the Shared Cultural Spaces Website.

The cultural and scientific exchanges that have occurred over the centuries between Western and Islamic nations have led to countless advances in literature, philosophy, architecture, mathematics, physics and the visual arts. Those exchanges are discussed by scholars gathered from around the world in Bridging Cultures: Islam and the West

Religion, Philosophy, and the Enviornment

Environmental Project Image

Friday, February 21, 2014
12:00pm- 1:30pm
Nicholson 135

The environment – whether understood as simply the planet or as the entire cosmos – has been understood, described, defined, interpreted, and impacted through religious thought and practice and through philosophical discourse. At the current historical moment, in the face of climate change and ecological efforts, scholars are re-evaluating these humanistic understandings of the environment.

Faculty and graduate students are invited to join us for a brown bag lunch, aimed at sharing our work and organizing a faculty seminar or other forum for on-going interdisciplinary discussions. We invite scholars from across the University to participate.

Bring your lunch. Beverages will be provided.

For more information and to RSVP, contact


News & Announcements

Professor Calvin Roetzel: Final Classroom Lecture

On Wednesday, December 9, 2009, Professor Calvin Roetzel, Sundet Chair in New Testament and Christian Studies, gave his final classroom lecture as a university professor culminating a long career as an internationally recognized New Testament and Pauline scholar.

Watch the video here


Professor Calvin Roetzel: Final Classroom Lecture

On Wednesday, December 9, 2009, Professor Calvin Roetzel, Sundet Chair in New Testament and Christian Studies, gave his final classroom lecture as a university professor culminating a long career as an internationally recognized New Testament and Pauline scholar. Students and colleagues, former and current, gathered alongside members of the community to honor Professor Roetzel as he shared how his thoughts on the figure of Paul have changed over the course of his 42 year teaching career.

Cameron Ferguson, current graduate student in Classical and Near Eastern Studies, Religions in Antiquity, and an advisee of Professor Roetzel, shares his appreciation for the lecture, Professor Roetzel's career, and his impact as a teacher and mentor:

It is difficult to lay adequate value or meaning upon Professor Calvin Roetzel's final classroom lecture as a University of Minnesota employee, and quite likely his final lecture under the full time employ of any university. Roetzel taught for over 40 years and established himself as one of the top New Testament and Pauline scholars in the world. His introductory textbook on Paul--The Letters of Paul: Conversations in Context--has become the definitive manual used by instructors throughout the country for introducing their students to the itinerant apostle.

Professor Roetzel's final lecture focused on how his views on Paul have changed over the course of his distinguished career. For example, he discussed Paul as an organic intellectual. Paul's perceptions on community, theology, teaching, and law--these are not static entities. They are changed and adapted as Paul is confronted with new circumstances and challenges. Perhaps more importantly, Roetzel discussed at length Paul's revolutionary rethinking of the crucifixion, an image intended to provoke fear and revulsion in the minds of the ancients. For Paul the cross became a symbol of strength and suffering, a mark of discipleship.

Many thanks to Roetzel's colleagues from the University of Minnesota, Macalester College, and the greater community who attended the lecture and the stories and experiences shared at the following reception. Special thanks to Ann Lewis for her wonderful presence in class and her amazing introduction; Professor Douglas Olson, who helped convince Roetzel to shirk his (second) retirement and teach at the University of Minnesota in the first place; and Professor Bernard Levinson and the religious studies staff for donating time and resources to the occasion. Finally, a very special thanks to Professor Jeanne Kilde, Director of the Program in Religious Studies, for her role in organizing the event.

View Past News & Announcements