interdisciplinary, interdisciplinarity, religion, sacred, interdisciplinary humanities


Education | Liberal Studies


In the book Interdisciplinarity, Joe Moran traced the rise of interdisciplinarity as an inherently transformative approach to the gathering and ordering of knowledge in the modern university. Interdisciplinarity challenges the university as an epistemological project by historicizing it as a context for knowledge production. The academic study of religion arose in this setting and has developed within the intellectual forces—the lines of inquiry and allegiances to certain discourses and ways of organizing knowledge—that marked the modern university. Over the past few decades, the concept of “religion” has been historicized and scholars have argued over whether the “sacred” is in the structure of human consciousness or is the expression of culture; whether the “sacred” is its own category or is better left to the various disciplines to account for it; and, how “religion” and “secular” are to be understood. Religious Studies has been called interdisciplinary by some, but the development of the intellectual context of the university as an epistemological project has not been historicized to see how its formation cast discourse in the manner in which it has. Interdisciplinarity can provide that historicizing and open new paths of interest and inquiry in Religious Studies.


Original Citation:

Smith, B. A. (2016). Transforming discourse: Interdisciplinary critique, the university, and the academic study of religion. Cogent Arts & Humanities, 3(1).