Who We Are

Who We Are

At UNC Asheville, we study religion to explore and understand the many ways human beings have sought to answer questions of existence and meaning. We treat religion as an academic subject that intersects with many disciplines, including philosophy, history, classics, sociology, and others. The department does not advocate for or against particular religious beliefs. Instead, we challenge students to examine how religious ideas and practices have developed, evolved, and influenced cultures around the world.

What You’ll Learn

Religious studies students investigate religious traditions throughout the world and how they’ve shaped our lives -- through art, architecture, music, ideas, and even foods.  Special strengths of the department include the religions of South Asia, indigenous and diasporic African religions, and religion and American culture.

Which Courses Should I Take?

Since HUM 124 and 214 introduce students to many of the religions of the world, the introductory course in the department, RELS 200:Introduction to the Study of Religion, acquaints students with some of the key issues and analytical tools that scholars use to study religion as an academic subject. Students read, analyze, and discuss significant texts by classical theorists such as Rudolf Otto, Sigmund Freud, and Mircea Eliade, as well as more contemporary approaches that reflect feminist, postcolonial, and "non-western" critiques of what we classify as religious beliefs and behaviors. Students also explore categories such as sacred space and time, myth and text, ritual, and morality. Other introductory level courses include RELS 215: Judaism and Christianity in the Ancient World, and RELS 280: Asian Religious Traditions -- but most courses are open without prerequsites to any interested students.

If I went back to college today, I think I would probably major in comparative religion, because that’s how integrated it is in everything that we are working on and deciding and thinking about in life today. – Former U.S. Secretary of State John F. Kerry