The Department of Religious Studies seeks to engage students in the study of religion as an academic discipline within the broader tradition of the liberal arts. As a field of humanistic inquiry, the study of religion at UNC Asheville investigates both the development and contemporary significance of the human religious experience from interdisciplinary perspectives that incorporate a variety of methodological approaches.Students and faculty at Atlanta Hindu temple

The study of religion has always been a critical aspect of the liberal arts emphasis at UNC Asheville, but a formal curriculum began only in 1997 when the Department of Philosophy began to offer a minor in Religious Studies.  The program expanded into a major department in 2009 and now boasts over thirty majors.

As we continue to grow, Religious Studies cooperates with faculty in other departments to offer courses not only in comparative religions but in such areas of study as the philosophy and sociology of religion.  Students may also take a number of approved electives, such as Biblical Hebrew, for Religious Studies credit.


One of the great achievements of modern scholarship is the invention of the modern study of religion. It ought to be an essential element of education....The fact that we do not just practice religion or ideology, but study it means a new phase of human awareness.

–Ninian Smart, Religion and the Western Mind

Departmental Updates

  • New Fall Courses

    Dr. Harvey will again offer two new courses this fall as special topics courses (RELS 373).  African Religions in the Americas and the Caribbean will  examine the history, beliefs, and practices of various religious systems in the Americas and the Caribbean that share cultural origins in West and Central Africa.  Black Religion and Literature explores Zora Neale Hurston’s theoretical contribution to the study of black religion.  Both courses are open to all students with no prerequisites.
  • Students Present Research at Regional Conferences

    Two Religious Studies majors recently presented research derived from their senior theses at regional conferences.  Rebecca Gordon, a double major with Spanish, spoke on "The Exploration of Angelic Understandings in New Age and Christianity" at the annual meeting of the North Carolina Religious Studies Association at UNC-Chapel Hill; and Megan Rabuck, a double major with International Studies discussed her paper “The Practice of Zombification in Haitian Vodou: The Ethical Dilemma in Further Research” at the recent meeting of the Southeastern Commission for the Study of Religion in Atlanta.