Religious Studies

The Interdisciplinary Program in Religious Studies offers a Major, Minor, Honours and Combined Honors at the BA undergraduate level, and at the graduate level MA and PhD degrees. Areas of strength include the religious traditions of antiquity, biblical studies, history of Christianity, Islamic Studies, "world" religions in a post-colonial, globalized perspective, East Asian and South Asian Religions and new religions.

Language courses such as Hebrew, Greek, Latin Arabic and Persian or Sanskrit, Coptic and Koine Greek on an occasional basis are offered through either Religious Studies Program, Modern Languages & Cultural Studies and History & Classics.

"How I ended up studying religion for a living" - Saliha Chattoo, B.A. 2009

I began my degree at the University of Alberta in 2005 whistling the familiar undergraduate tune of being unsure of what my major should be. In hindsight, I’m extremely grateful for this. I might never have found my current career path otherwise. My first semester at the University of Alberta consisted of a wide variety of courses in the Faculty of Arts, and I found a seemingly endless number of options. I quickly fell in love with cultural anthropology and archaeology, and began to volunteer with the UAAU (University of Alberta Anthropology Undergraduates). The department of Anthropology’s strong group of faculty alongside many excellent resources for students made for an incredibly enriching experience.

My academic interests were also cultivated in areas including religious studies, history and classics. My first history class was entitled ‘Early Modern World,’ and will forever stand out in my mind because of its unconventional approach and commitment to rigorous source analysis. This invigorating entrance into the study of history eventually led me to choose a minor in history’s departmental partner, classics. After completing my second year of study, I was fortunate enough to be accepted to the History and Classics department’s Kastro Kallithea archaeological field school in Northern Greece. At the time, I was the youngest student to have been accepted, and the educational value—both cultural and academic—of this field school cannot be overstated. The program trains young historians, classicists, and anthropologists like myself in archaeological methodology while allowing us to become a part of the important archaeological work undertaken in Greece. In my final year at the University of Alberta, one of my undergraduate papers in the field of anthropological archaeology was published in the department’s journal Constellations, which will soon celebrate its fifth year of offering undergraduate students the opportunity to have their work published in a peer-reviewed journal. The academic and social resources made available to me through the Faculty of Arts were instrumental in my swift acceptance into the graduate program in Religion and Culture at Wilfrid Laurier University. Throughout my M.A., under the guidance of some extraordinary scholars of religion, I was able to significantly advance my research skills.

After completing my M.A., I decided to return to Edmonton and work for two years before pursuing a Ph.D. I was able to become a part of the University of Alberta upon my return, and began to work as casual support for a research and writing course offered through the Faculty of Business. I also began freelancing for Edmonton’s alternative newspaper, Vue Weekly, and have been a regular contributor to the publication for two years. After this and a handful of international travels, I began to pursue academia again, and will be attending the University of Toronto to begin my Ph.D. in Religious Studies in the fall of 2013. At this institution, I will be able to merge my passion for cultural anthropology with religious studies. My research will focus on an anthropological assessment of certain youth programs in evangelical churches in the southern United States. This transdisciplinary doctoral project has been building for some time, thanks in large part to the myriad of excellent courses, professors and resources housed within the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Arts.