Religion is a defining element of culture and identity. Helping us to make meaning in the   world, it shapes our ethics, our understanding of the world and our place in it.  This course introduces students to the academic study of religion, its major theories and approaches and provides a survey of a variety of world religions including Hinduism, Buddhism, JudaismChristianityand Islam. Throughout the semester, we will investigate the history, myths, sources of authority, basic beliefs (i.e. the nature of the divine, the soul, salvation and eschatology), and ritual observances (historical and contemporary) of these religions. We will also consider the social dimensions of these religionsi.e. how they conceive of and instruct devotees to relate to the other,” and how said faith systems contribute to the cultures in which they are practiced.