Department of Religion Carleton College Learning Goals and Outcomes

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1 Department of Religion Carleton College Learning Goals and Outcomes Overview The study of religion, in the context of a liberal arts education, draws upon multiple disciplines in the humanities and the social sciences. This is reflected in the variety of courses offered within the department: some introduce a religious tradition and trace its development historically; others examine in a cross-cultural context the issues faced by various religious communities and individuals; and still others explore and compare diverse theories and methods employed in the study of religions. The department is concerned with traditional and contemporary forms of both major and more marginal religions, and with both elite and popular forms of religious expression. We examine the existential, intellectual, and social problems to which religions respond, and probe the dynamic and often ambiguous relationship between religious beliefs and practices and the social order in which they are embedded. Throughout the curriculum, religion is approached as a significant and pervasive expression of human culture, both past and present. Through our program of study, we seek to provide students with imaginative, analytical, written, oral, and social skills that will permit them not only to gain the ability to understand human religiousness, but also to become productive members of any community. Our major gives our students many opportunities to gain the understandings and practice the skills we recognize as central to a liberal arts education. We acknowledge that learning is a gradual process that involves both success and failure, and our approach involves both encouragement and appropriate criticism. Junior majors gain a broad acquaintance with the history and contours of the field, and they must identify a tradition, theme, or topic with which they are centrally concerned. Our senior integrative exercise requires integration of the skills and knowledge to engage in scholarship in the field and gain a sense of the wider world of intellectual inquiry, and we attempt to foster the higher order thinking skills necessary for this type of research. At the same time, we recognize that our majors are novices in the field, and we seek to nurture their learning and skills at a level that is appropriate for undergraduates. Understandings Take religion and religious people seriously, which is to say treating them neither dismissively nor naively. Approach religious authority claims both sensitively and critically.

2 Develop a cross-cultural and global orientation, recognizing the variety of religious traditions throughout the world. Appreciate the diversity to be found within specific religious traditions. Understand religions as part of historical processes, in constant development. Analyze the dynamic relation between religions and structures of gender, ethnicity, and social identity. Display a general sense of the development of the field of religious studies over time, including its place in the intellectual, social, and political formations of the modern West. Recognize the interdisciplinary nature of religious studies, especially in terms of the application of historical/social analysis and sophisticated hermeneutical tools. Ideally, be exposed to religion as it is actually lived, whether through class visits by representatives of traditions, field trips to religious sites, or off-campus study. Reflect knowledgably and critically about religion in relation to current events. Skills of Inquiry, Analysis, and Communication Locate (with appropriate searching tools) and cite (in the format specified by the departmental style sheet) both primary and secondary sources in the field. Know when and how to make use of standard reference works in the field. Utilize primary and secondary sources in constructing a thesis-driven paper. Apply theories and methods that have been developed within the field. Communicate research and ideas effectively in writing. Communicate research and ideas effectively in oral presentation. Participate respectfully and effectively in group discussions. Skills of Higher Order Thinking Recognize and interrogate key assumptions underlying primary and secondary texts. Recognize and interrogate key assumptions and the types of arguments scholars make in the field. Recognize and interrogate key assumptions underlying their own work in the field. Integrate general and specialized learning to ask productive questions and solve problems concerning important issues and topics in the field. Practice ethical reasoning and action in the collection and attribution of both primary and secondary material.

3 Participate actively and respectfully in the scholarly community of religious studies as well as the world of academic discourse in general. Assessment of Learning Outcomes As noted in the Overview, our goal is to give our students multiple opportunities to gain the understandings and practice the skills we have identified. Our curriculum is designed to sequence as much as possible the understandings and skills in stages of increasing complexity, culminating in the Senior Integrative Exercise. Along the way we provide our students with feedback and critical evaluations of their work so that they are aware of their individual strengths and weaknesses. Majors can expect the following: Assessment of understandings through evaluation of a range of course-work at all levels, as well as the Senior Integrative Exercise; Assessment of skills of inquiry, analysis, and communication through evaluation of a range of course-work at all levels, as well as the Senior Integrative Exercise; Assessment of skills of higher order thinking through course-based research projects and especially the Senior Integrative Exercise. In addition to feedback to individual students, we also engage regularly in programmatic assessment. Regular monitoring of and consultation with students during their junior and senior years, especially at the completion of the Senior Integrative Exercise, provides us with valuable feedback as to how we are succeeding as a program and where we need to make adjustments to our curriculum to accomplish the outcomes we expect. Our programmatic assessment also benefits from the decennial review that the department undergoes, and from periodic retreats attended by all department members. Conclusion Despite predictions of its demise, religion remains a vital component of most human cultures in the world of the twenty-first century. Understanding of religious texts, persons, and practices is indispensable for appreciating not just the human quest for meaning in life, but the ways in which current social and political movements and institutions have developed and new ones continue to appear. We believe that our goals are appropriate to the context of a liberal arts education, and that our learning outcomes complement and enhance the overall mission of the College and prepare our majors for a lifetime of learning.

4 Assessment Measures Jr. Seminar Exit Survey tied to most learning objectives Sr. Seminar Exit Survey tied to all learning objectives Jr. Seminar Paper Grading Template keyed to select learning objectives Sr. Seminar Take Home Final tied to contemporary critical theory and study of religion. Comps assessment template keyed to select learning objectives Systematic files on individual majors to equip in house future correlations o Declarations of three-course-sequences o Comps proposals o Spring Term Senior audits Graduating Senior Major facilitated group exit interview Enrollment Figures to assess what balance of coursework in major comes from outside the department

5 Rubric for both faculty assessment and student self-assessment 1 = Strongly Disagree that I gained this from my religion major 2 = Disagree that I gained this from my religion major 3 = Agree that I gained this from my religion major 4 = Strongly agree that I gained this from my religion major Goal: Display a general sense of the development of the field of religious studies over time, including its place in the intellectual, social, and political formations of the modern West. Recognize the interdisciplinary nature of religious studies, especially in terms of the application of historical/social analysis and sophisticated interpretive tools. Understand religions as part of historical processes, in constant development. Analyze the dynamic relation between religions and structures of gender, ethnicity, and social identity. Apply theories and methods that have been developed within the field. Recognize and interrogate key assumptions underlying primary and secondary texts. Recognize and interrogate key assumptions and the types of arguments scholars make in the field. Recognize and interrogate key assumptions underlying your own work in the field. Integrate general and specialized learning to ask productive questions and solve problems concerning important issues and topics in the field.

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