The value of Religious Studies is not so much in learning the nuances of religions, but in learning to see from the point of view of people who do not share your beliefs about the world.
Living and teaching in Taiwan, I use the ways of thinking I learned in Religious Studies every day.
Religious Studies taught me how to extrapolate from a small amount of information less-than-obvious judgments and observations. Though I never studied about the people or the religions of Taiwan in university, I quickly learned how act appropriately. More importantly, I learned how to understand the mindset of the children and young adults I teach, even when they are unwilling or unable to express themselves. As an English as a Second Language teacher, it is especially important to be able to relate culturally to your students.
I see the difference Religious Studies has made when my students’ parents trust me (foreigners can have a less than stellar reputation here).
I see the difference when the Taiwanese invited me to live in an area no foreigners had lived before.
I see the difference when the personal connections I have made have gotten me better jobs.
I will not always be teaching English. This time next year, I expect to be going to law school back in the US, and so I am currently studying for the Law School Admission Test (LSAT). I would not describe the LSAT as easy by any means, but learning to critically and objectively analyze documents in Religious Studies has given me more than a head start on it. In my case, Religious Studies has not just provided me with the ability to more deeply and fully understand others, but the skills I learned will directly translate into going to a better law school.
The Religious Studies Program at UWM taught me a great deal about the diversity of people.
Religious Studies provided me with a knowledge of various religions, cultures, and beliefs. This knowledge affords me the ability to understand and interact with people in a meaningful way.
This ability along with my commitment to serve communities in need prepared me for work in the nonprofit field. I have spent two years working for the Girl Scouts in the Urban Initiative Department and have just accepted a position at Lake Valley Camp as Manager of their Urban Program. Both organizations provide direct services to Milwaukee’s diverse and underserved populations.
Earning a degree in Religious Studies fostered sincere cross-cultural understanding through exposure to dynamic perspectives and global dialogues which I have found to be indispensable.
As a history major, religion consistently exists as a theme in many classes. Adding Religious Studies as a double major was an opportunity to engage with complimentary material and, therefore, enabled a deeper understanding of content in my other history courses. Exposure to different methodologies, theologies, histories, and perceptions that shape everyday decisions and events has proved supremely valuable time and time again.
As the Chief Executive of an international company, understanding that religion plays an important role in the lives of employees, colleagues, and those we do business with makes sense. Knowledge of religious practices, systems, ideologies, and tolerances remains paramount to successful day to day operations when coordinating a diverse group of professionals. My religious studies training gave me the tools to interpret, analyze, and understand circumstances and social discourses that directly impact my life, almost on a daily basis.