Western Washington University · Bellingham, Washington
Humanities-Religion and Culture Concentration, BA
What is the study of Humanities-Religion and Culture Concentration?
The humanities include the disciplines which study philosophy, religion, history, literature, and the arts. The B.A. in Humanities programs attracts students who want to major in more than one Humanities discipline, using interdisciplinary methods of investigation. The department supports study of religions and of cultural history in Europe and the Americas, China, Japan, South Asia, sub-Saharan Africa, and in predominantly Islamic areas. Its courses give attention to historical development and cross-cultural interaction, both in the past and in the modern period.
The small size of classes and seminars in the Humanities B.A. programs encourages close relationships between students and faculty. Students conduct independent research on topics of their own choosing. Working closely with faculty, students learn to formulate problems clearly, to consider and evaluate different methods and concepts, to do efficient and thorough research, and to write clearly, concisely and effectively.
Graduates have gone on to a variety of professional graduate schools and careers, including teaching, law, library science, archive administration, and research and administrative positions with business and non-profit organizations. Students who have done excellent work in the department have succeeded in graduate academic programs in literature, history and the study of religion.
Why Should I Consider this Major?
The Religion and Culture Concentration provides scholarly, non-sectarian study of religions. Students study religious beliefs, practices, arts, identities, and institutions; they study how religions have influenced and been influenced by historical changes in other aspects of society and culture. The concentration includes a broad survey of Western culture as a context for understanding its religious traditions. Students become familiar with religious traditions in at least one non-Western culture. Students study the origin, history, and methods of the academic study of religion as it has developed in modern Europe and North America. Learning how to understand people of different religions helps students exercise leadership in settings of religious diversity and conflict.
Students acquire skills which are broadly applicable to professional careers. These skills include problem solving, critical thinking, research skills, integrative skills, and written and oral communications skills. The Religion and Culture concentration is particularly helpful for students who plan careers in education, and the ministry or graduate study in religion.
In religious studies we use diverse scholarly methods to consider religious expression and the effects of religion in history and society. Religions vary greatly in their beliefs and practices, but they share the common feature of offering interpretive frameworks for reality. That is to say, religions contribute to the worldviews of believers, and show them how to respond to the human condition. For this reason, the field once was famously described as the “study of humanity.”Our academic discourse connects the social sciences to philosophy. We encourage the objective study of religion and culture. But because religions pose moral questions, the study of religion allows for a second type of inquiry as well, one rooted in a subjective, evaluative response.Religious studies is the ultimate interdisciplinary adventure.
- Holly Folk, Faculty
What grabbed my attention into joining the Liberal Studies Department were the passions that I had with world cultures and its religions. Through these courses I have been personally transformed, as I was given the binoculars of history, literature, philosophy and religion. These lenses enabled me to view other cultures and, in retrospect, enable me to empathize and understand others. My metamorphosis was brought about by becoming more aware of my surroundings and the history that has been laid before my existence. The texts and critiques of others have shaped my views. I am able to engage in a form of mental dialogue that challenges my own opinions, as well as others’. I am able to contextualize information and history, as I have been given a rough understanding of various chains of events that have led up to the development of various topic, like the foundation of Islamic civilization, the academic study of religion and the beginnings of Christianity.
- Vivian Kwan, Student
- Business Administrator
- Non-Profit Organization Administrator
- Congressional Aid
- Research Assistant