Majors & Programs

Religious Studies

Degrees Offered: BA Minor

The objectives of the religious studies major are best attained in the context of a liberal arts education. The curriculum helps students develop the capacity for scholarship and disciplined thought on the subject of religion. But more than this, our program encourages students to utilize the study of religion as a means for enriching their own quest for meaning, the consideration of values, and pondering the questions that have captivated religious people across the millennia. The program avoids dogmatism as well as unquestioning faith or belief. We approach this area of human inquiry with the same objectivity demanded elsewhere in the humanities. We require fairness with regard to evidence, respect for reasonable differences in points of view, and the avoidance of any attempts to proselytize.

The religious studies program at Humboldt places emphasis on understanding religion in tradition, both in the major traditions of the world (e.g., Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism), but also in important, but less well understood dimensions (e.g., Goddess worship and shamanism). Special emphasis is given to the study of sacred texts (e.g., Bible, Qur’an, Sutras). Focus is also provided for the consideration of comparative categories (e.g., mysticism and psychology) and popular culture.

Religious studies provides an exceptional vehicle for exploring differences in culture, values, and world-view. The religious studies curriculum encourages the appreciation of cultural diversity as we consider traditional values, sacred texts, and religious history. We facilitate travel abroad (e.g., to India and China), and offer many opportunities for direct encounter with religious communities local to Northern California. We seek to encourage dialogue and mutual understanding among different religions as an antidote to the mistrust and misunderstanding that is so common in the world today. We especially welcome and encourage students from under-represented groups to become majors.

The religious studies major at Humboldt is unique in its exploratory nature. Students are encouraged to develop their academic skills in the context of their own personal engagement with matters of religious importance. Courses are designed to offer students the opportunity to consider their own personal views on spirituality, ethics, religious violence, sacred texts, theology, religious practice, and many other topics. Our experiential program offers opportunities for direct observation and encounter with Buddhist, Muslim, Christian, Jewish, and other communities.

The religious studies student organization offers opportunities for building community and leadership skills among students. This group helps to establish bonds among religious studies majors outside of the classroom, and thereby provides a valuable foundation for group cohesion and lasting friendships.