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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.
Religion is an omnipresent everyday phenomenon in practically all cultures. Of the seven billion people on Earth, six billion call themselves religious. Worldwide, there are no fewer than 10,000 religious denominations. Religion does not occur in isolation; it affects people’s daily behaviour economically, politically, psychologically and socially.
Wherever there are people, there is religion. Religion is one of the forces driving mankind, which is why knowledge of religion is so important.
Across the world there are many conflicts, sensitivities and political discussions in which religion plays a role. For example, how can we prevent young people from becoming radicalized and joining IS? And what role do the modern media play in this process? Is women’s position in society determined by religion or by cultural practices? And is there a difference between the two? Religious Studies experts are needed in a world in which globalization and migration have made religion an inescapable aspect of everyday life.
Is this the programme for you?
You are fascinated by religion, other cultures and societies, 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. Most of all, 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. Extreme 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, which led to him being awarded many distinctions. 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?