The Department for the Study of Religion

Doctoral student Nick Field in front of the Jackman Humanities Building, home to the Department for the Study of Religion. (Photo by Andrew Erlich.)

For the past 30 years the Department for the Study of Religion (DSR) has fostered scholarly excellence and innovation among faculty, graduate and undergraduate students in the humanities and social sciences at U of T’s three campuses. Religion is taught in three distinct contexts: at the UTSG (the downtown campus), where both undergraduate and graduate units are located; in the Department of Historical Studies at UTM, responsible for undergraduate teaching; and in the Department of Humanities at UTSC, with a religion undergraduate minor program.

With 21 tenured or tenure-stream faculty, the DSR is among the largest religion departments in Canada, and it is highly regarded internationally for a range of strengths, including religions of Mediterranean Antiquity, Buddhist Studies, Islamic Studies, the anthropology of Christianity, and modern Jewish thought.

We explore the way religions have grown and developed, how they have been understood and transformed, and how we can think about them with discipline in our religiously plural environment. Our programs enable students to grasp religion as an essential aspect of the cultures of the world and the interactions among them. We look at the development of religious beliefs, practices, and doctrines as they intersect with the history of peoples and cultures right up to the contemporary world. We study religion and its connections with social issues, ethics, philosophical questions, and personal psychological considerations. As a result, students at all levels can better understand their own traditions and those of others, in ways that also provide insight into the significant impact of religions in contemporary affairs. Our location in one of the most religiously diverse cities in the world is an important resource and responsibility as we facilitate intellectually informed and publicly-minded conversations on religion in the public sphere through research, university networks, public events, and student engagement.