Eastern Michigan University to launch new program in growing field of religious studies

Major seen as deeply relevant in a complex world where faith plays a central role

YPSILANTI – Students at Eastern Michigan University can gain a deep understanding of the world’s religions and many of the social and spiritual forces that are driving modern life under a new academic program approved Tuesday (June 27) by the EMU Board of Regents.

The new Bachelor of Arts in Religious Studies will invite students to integrate humanistic and social scientific approaches to develop a nuanced, critical, and sympathetic understanding of religion, and to prepare for lives of learning and social engagement.

“Religious Studies is a well-established, vital, and growing field of study,” said Rhonda Longworth, provost and executive vice president of academic and student affairs. “The strength of religion worldwide, the increasing diversity of religion in the United States, and the prominence of religion in global and domestic conflicts guarantees that religion will continue to be a critical object of inquiry. The complexity of religion makes it an ideal topic for critical and integrative study within an undergraduate liberal arts education.”

The new major will require students to complete 30 credit hours, with six hours of required courses, including a course in the comparative study of religion and one on the theories and methods for the study of religion; plus 18 hours of electives that delve into traditions of various religions or methods courses that explore topics such as the anthropology, psychology or philosophy of religions.

The program is interdisciplinary, as students will take one to four courses outside of the history section as well. Students will also choose a capstone experience, which can be a research project, internship, or another project of the student's design, the goal of which is to provide a student-centered conclusion to the degree program.

Longworth noted that a robust level of student interest in the study of religion and growth in the department of History and Philosophy’s course offerings and enrollments in the area led to the proposal of the new major.

The program’s beginning date is to be determined. 

About Eastern Michigan University

Founded in 1849, Eastern is the second oldest university in Michigan. It currently serves 22,000 students pursuing undergraduate, graduate, specialist, doctoral and certificate degrees in the arts, sciences and professions. In all, more than 300 majors, minors and concentrations are delivered through the University's Colleges of Arts and Sciences; Business; Education; Health and Human Services; Technology, and its graduate school. EMU is regularly recognized by national publications for its excellence, diversity, and commitment to applied education. For more information about Eastern Michigan University, visit the University's website.


June 27, 2017

Written by:
Geoff Larcom

Geoff Larcom