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Religious Studies investigates religion as a phenomenon. The central question we ask ourselves is not to what extent religions are ‘true’, but how religion affects people’s lives and what people do with it. Religious Studies experts study how religions manifest themselves, how they develop and change, and the impact they have on people and societies.
You encounter religion in all cultures, all over the world. Worldwide, there are no fewer than 10,000 religious denominations. Religion can be the driving force behind people, influencing their behaviour economically, politically, socially and psychologically. This is why knowledge and understanding of religion is so extremely important. Because there are so many important factors in studying religion in relation to people and society, Religious Studies experts are broadly trained social scientists, with experience in anthropology, sociology, psychology, politicology, philosophy and ethics.
Worldwide, but also in the Netherlands, there are many conflicts, sensitivities and political discussions in which religion plays a role.
Worldwide, but also in the Netherlands, there are many conflicts, sensitivities and political discussions in which religion plays a role. Religious Studies is thus a very topical social degree programme that touches on difficult issues. These issues are important to policymakers, to education and to journalists. How do you deal with someone who refuses to shake the hand of a woman because of his religion? Is the government allowed to interfere in ritual slaughter or circumcision practices? How can we prevent young people from becoming radicalized and joining organizations that promote violence? Should religious organizations be allowed to become involved in the legislative process regarding euthanasia? What is the relationship between freedom of speech and freedom of religion? Religious Studies experts are needed in a world in which religion is a permanent part of everyday life.
Is this the programme for you?
You are fascinated by religion, culture, and society, and you wish to better understand the world you live in. You want to know what impact various religions have on society and people and you are open to different worldviews. You enjoy reading and you are interested in history, sociology, psychology, philosophy, art, politics, and cultural anthropology. In short, you want to know what drives people!
What is Religious Studies?
Wat brengt geloof teweeg?
Religion and conflict
Religion is often portrayed negatively in the media. Every day thousands of people are victims and perpetrators of religion-related violence. Recent examples include the Islamic State and Boko Haram. Much less attention is paid to the peace-promoting role that religion can play in conflict situations. For example, Archbishop Tutu played a key role in ending the apartheid regime in South Africa and the ensuing reconciliation. The degree programme in Religious Studies pays critical attention to both of these roles of religion.
How do religions come into being? How do they affect people and societies? What role does religion play in various cultures and conflicts?