Studying and getting to know the world of religions… 

…is both fascinating and enlightening. Religious beliefs, practices and groups have shaped and still shape individuals and societies. Speeches and rhetoric of US presidents were infused with religion not only in the 19th century and continue to be in the 21st; mobilisations on religious grounds, for example in Iran, have changes the face of world history and global politics. Global migratory movements have lead to a local plurality of religions, whether in Europe, North and South America or other parts of the world. Religions influence the behaviour of individuals as regards clothing, diet, opinions and understanding of gender, shape the society and politics of communities, and are vital for gaining an understanding of both past and present. Conflicts and wars, cooperation and communication processes often have a religious dimension which are vital to be recognised.

Religion as a part of society

The study of religion and religions at the Department for the Study of Religions is undertaken from a humanities and social sciences perspective. Religious texts, beliefs and acts have always been a part of society and culture. This social contextualisation and change should be considered in dealings with religious forms of expression, whether actions, texts, music, buildings or many other examples. The distinctive feature of studying religions is its double comparative perspective – on religions in the present and the recent or distant past, and on religions in Europe or North America and those outside of modern Western societies. Teaching and research in Lucerne focuses on the traditions of Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism and forms of alternative spirituality, as well as on the social challenges brought about by migration and religious plurality.


The Lucerne Study of Religions focuses on an understanding of and theoretical reflection on the dynamics of the proliferation and variation of globalised religious traditions. The process of globalisation for once regionally restricted religions began as early as the 19th century. Christianity, Islam and Buddhism had already spread across multiple countries centuries earlier and became native to various cultures. Other religious traditions such as Hindu religions and religions which newly emerged in the 19th century became established across almost every continent during the 20th century. Which changes to and dynamics of the adaptation and redefinition of religious teachings, practices and organisational forms accompany transference into other countries and cultures? Which social reactions emerge in newly adopted native countries? Also, do any tensions, controversies, struggles for social participation or renegotiations of status develop in these new multi-faith situations?
From both a religious-historical and a comparative, analytical perspective, the "dynamics of global religions" master’s specialisation examines changes and reorganisations in the context of the globalisation of religious traditions, ideas and practices.

Research-oriented teaching and learning

Students have the opportunity to contribute to the department’s current research projects through supervised research work and thus to be introduced to data collection with methodological considerations, the contextualisation of religious theory and new research results at an early stage.This requires both independent and team-oriented work and may lead to doctoral studies, which can be undertaken following successful completion of a master’s programme.