Saturday, April 20, 2024

Religious studies minor gains popularity

Students at Plattsburgh State are looking deeper into the spirituality of the world, both past and present, with the religious studies minor.

Coordinated by Associate History Professor Richard Schaefer, the religious studies minor focuses on the examination of various religious beliefs and practices including Christianity, Judaism and Buddhism.

The minor totals 18 credits and includes a combination of majors.

Anthropology and Latin American studies major Grace Carlic said the minor is a wonderful addition to any field or study. “It’s a huge advantage having knowledge of religious background and beliefs when it comes to my other classes,” Carlic said.

Having added the minor not long ago, she feels that it has broadened her views on religion.

“You can’t look at a culture without understanding its religious and moral background,” she said.

The minor came about when Schaefer and other faulty members came together thanks to their shared interest in the topic.

“When I came to Plattsburgh, I looked for people who had similar interest religious studies, and I found that there are quite a few people here on campus even though they are in different departments,” said Schaefer.

Together, they combined their resources to create a Religious Studies minor for students who wanted to deepen their understanding in religion.

“We put together a program of courses and drafted some student objectives, and in 2010 it was approved as an official minor,” Schaefer said.

Distinguished Teaching Professor of Anthropology Richard Robbins is one of the founders of the Religious Studies minor. He helped craft the minor because he felt it was something students didn’t want to talk about among themselves.

“We had a number of courses that fit, and it seemed like a good topic to have a concentration on for students who were interested,” Robbins said.

These courses include Culture and Belief from the Anthropology Department, The Bible as Literature from the English Department and Gender and Religion from the Gender Women Studies Department.

“Introduction to World Religion, was a real eye opening course. It had broadened my perspectives, and I recommend it for anyone who needs to fill their humanities gen-ed,” Carlic said.

Though the minor has been around for four years and has only 12 students collectively, it has now begun to grow as an interest in the minds of students.

“It will grow as much as you want it to grow in a sense that the interest is out there. It depends on how it is publicized and what people choose to do with it,” Robbin said. “If people like Schaefer are invested in it, then I believe more students will be attracted to it.”

Schaefer said students will get an introduction to religion and be able to go in depth in certain areas but not in others, for now.

“One of the things that students really get is a good grounding in house scholar study of religion,” Schaefer said.

Any student is allowed to sign up for the minor. “I have been having a wonderful experience so far, and it would be great if more people should sign up,” Carlic said.

Email Cierra Patterson at

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