Religion and Culture
Religion and Culture
The study of humanities focuses on how cultures change. The humanities include the disciplines which study philosophy, religion, history, literature, and the arts. Western's Humanities — Religion and Culture major 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. Learning how to understand people of different religions helps students exercise leadership in settings of religious diversity and conflict.
The concentration includes the study of religious tradition in both a broad survey of Western culture and a focus on 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.
“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
Beyond the Classroom
The small size of classes and seminars in the Humanities program 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.
"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 topics, like the foundation of Islamic civilization, the academic study of religion and the beginnings of Christianity."
-Vivian Kwan, Student
Careers and Graduate Studies
The Humanities — Religion and Culture major is particularly helpful for students who plan careers in education, and the ministry or graduate study in religion and has proved to be excellent preparation for professional careers in teaching, law, library science, archive administration, and for research and administrative positions with businesses and non-profit organizations.
Graduates have gone on to a variety of professional graduate schools, including law, library and information science, and conflict resolution. Students who have done excellent work in the department have succeeded in graduate academic programs in literature, history, and the study of religion.
- Business Administrator
- Non-Profit Organization Administrator
- Congressional Aid
- Research Assistant