How do religions come into being? How do they affect people and societies? What role does religion play in various cultures and conflicts?
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. 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. Religious Studies experts are needed in a world in which religion is a permanent part of everyday life.
The central question you will learn to ask yourself is not to what extent religions are 'true', but how religion affects people's lives and what people do with it. The interaction between religion, culture, and society is the main focus of this bachelor's programme. During your studies you will deepen your knowledge of various aspects of the major religions in the world (Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity and Judaism). You will use different perspectives to analyse religious expressions – texts, rituals and visual art – and place them in their cultural context. 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, political science, philosophy and ethics.
A highly challenging topic
After my final school exams, I took a year off to travel around India, Nepal and Sri Lanka. Hinduism, Islam and Buddhism play an important role in these countries. I am primarily interested in how religious beliefs in these countries relate to phenomena such as Hindu nationalism, development aid, the position of women, and anti-Muslim violence. That's why I decided to study Religious Studies and specialize in South Asia.
Re-thinking how religion works
I was drawn to Groningen because of its reputation for being excellent for international students; the option to take my classes in English was also a big 'plus'. I am particularly interested in the scientific approach of studying religion, as well as studying religious practice and the significance of belief within communities; and the course here 100% meets my expectations.
Many chances to get in contact with our professors
I have been lucky to have travelled and have always been interested in getting to know new people and cultures. In choosing a degree, I decided I would like to explore the influence religion has on people's daily lives- and Groningen is a World Top 100 University!
Curious about how people give meaning to their lives
I chose Religious Studies because I am interested in various subjects such as anthropology, politics and philosophy, and because I was curious about how people give meaning to their lives. I became a Student Ambassador for the degree programme because I am really enthusiastic about it.
You learn to look past the clichés about Muslims
I teach the course units 'Anthropology of Religion' and 'Islam'. The combination is a great way to learn about the link between the 'repertoire' of symbols, rituals and stories available to Islam as a historical tradition, and the divergent ways that individual Muslims and Muslim groups make use of that rich source to define guidelines for a good life, and derive comfort, strength and inspiration.
to do something that makes a difference
Understanding the relationship between religion and politics is crucial. In the course Religion and Politics that I teach together with my colleague Joram Tarusarira, we're not just talking about electoral or parliamentary politics, but politics in everyday relationships, in the media, in grass-roots organisations - struggles over power, injustice, who is marginalised and excluded.
After graduating I was able to immediately follow an internship at a municipality. I was one of three students selected from among two hundred applicants. I was chosen among other things for my background in religious studies; my employer believed that I would bring in an interesting new perspective. The internship consisted of a two-year track during which I switched to a different municipal department every six months.
Suddenly, I'm the expert
After completing my Bachelor's and Master's, I did my PhD research on religion and development cooperation and sexuality, for which I conducted field work in East Africa. This helped me further develop my religious-scientific view on development cooperation.
My students won't let me get away with nonsense
When I was rounding off my Master's degree programme, my former secondary school offered me a job as a teacher of Religious Education for a couple of hours a week. I started off with eight hours, completed my grade-one teaching qualification in Utrecht, and am currently teaching religion for four days and social studies for one day a week.