All known civilizations, cultures and nations have been deeply affected by religion. Religions have created institutions such as temples and schools, produced great works of literature and art, and organized rituals to mark the continuities and changes in individual and communal lives. Religions have both legitimated political structures and inspired revolutions. Whether we are concerned with international affairs or our everyday experience in multicultural cities like Hamilton, religious diversity is a key element of social interaction. The study of religion is one of the most comprehensive ways of understanding humankind and human visions of reality.
One of the first graduate programs in Religious Studies in Canada (established in 1964), McMaster University has been a leading center for the scholarly study of religion for more than five decades. The Department has three graduate fields of study (Asian, Biblical and Western) and research is conducted in a range of topics and traditions, time periods and cultures, employing a wide variety of approaches: textual, ethnographic, historical, philosophical, theological, philological. While the faculty and areas of research expertise have changed somewhat over the years, the Department’s commitment to the open, critical, and multidisciplinary study of religion—past and present, East and West, theoretical and practical—remains passionate and strong.