Applied Religious Studies

It seems that at least in the US context, the concept of “applied religious studies” is slowly gaining increased traction. The American Academy of Religion now has an applied religious studies working group. I’ve heard mention of applied religious studies being for the broader field of religious studies akin to what practical theology is for the broader field of theology. I wonder if there are things for practical theology to learn from how the conversation about applied religious studies is unfolding, and if there are things for applied religious studies to learn from practical theology. (To begin with, many practical theologians will want to know what “applied” means – a question reflective of the history of practical theology struggling with being construed primarily as the “application” of findings in other theological domains.) If it’s true that applied religious studies is slowly on the ascendant — encouraged no doubt also by the question today of ‘What kind of jobs can one get with a religious studies degree?’ — it might be a productive to have practical theologians in the conversation. Or is this already happening in your context?
Tom Beaudoin, Fordham University

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