UMass Amherst

Religious Studies Certificate Program, UMass Amherst







Religion, in its manifold forms, has been a significant area of human activity throughout history, and it remains a potent force in modern politics, society, and culture. Its study is an essential part of a liberal arts education. The Religious Studies Certificate Program offers undergraduates a framework within which to pursue the comparative and interdisciplinary study of religious phenomena in human societies across different cultures, places, and times.. The Program draws on courses offered by many academic departments in the University and other colleges within the Five-College system.


Program Requirements

Religious Studies Faculty

Courses in Religious Studies

Resources for Religious Studies




Guest Lectures, Fall 2009

"Empire Washed in Blood:

Roman Domination and the Physics of Sacrifice"

Carlin Barton - Thursday, October 8th, 4:00PM

Herter Hall, Room 301

"Islam and Jerusalem"

Suleiman Mourad - Thursday, October 15th, 4:00PM

Bartlett Hall, Room 316

"The Secularization of Blood in Modern Jewish Culture"

David Biale - Wednesday, October 21st, 4:00PM

Herter Hall, Room 301

"Socrates and the Fat Rabbis"

Daniel Boyarin - Monday, November 2nd, 3:30PM

Herter Hall, Room 301

"A Conflict in Place:  A Case of Identity in China"

Tamar Mayer - Thursday, November 5th, 4:00PM

Herter Hall, Room 301

"Moses Mendelssohn's 'Indigenous Colonist':

State, Power, and the Question of Sovereignty"

Willi Goetschel - Thursday, November 19th, 4:00PM

Herter Hall, Room 301


Symposium, Spring 2010



Wednesday, April 21, Herter Hall 301, 3:30 p.m.

made possible by a College of Humanities and Fine Arts Visioning Grant

The Muslim Secular State: Two Legal Cases from Malaysia

Iza Hussin, Assistant Professor of Legal Studies at UMass Amherst and a Fellow in Islamic Legal Studies at Harvard Law School, focused upon the interconnectedness of religion, law, and society, particularly within the Muslim world. Hussin discussed two cases on apostasy in Malaysia to illustrate how state secularity and religiosity, legal institutions and actors, and electoral politics, intersect over the problem of Muslim identity.

Science, Secularism and the State: The Cases of India and Pakistan

Banu Subramaniam, Associate Professor of Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies at UMass Amherst, is a plant evolutionary biologist who focuses on the relationship of science and religious nationalism in India. Since their partition in 1947, India and Pakistan have emerged as important countries on the world stage. Subramaniam explored recurring tensions between religion and science through the debates on Hindu Science in India and Islamic Science in Pakistan.

Muslims in Britain and France: Friends or Foes of Europe?
Rahsaan Maxwell, Assistant Professor of Political Science at UMass Amherst, is interested in ethnic minority migrant integration and political behavior, with a particular focus on Western Europe. British Muslims are often seen as the most radical, alienated, and dangerous Muslims in Europe while French Muslims are seen as the most culturally assimilated. Maxwell explored similarities and differences between these two groups as well as the successes and challenges for integration in both countries.

Susan Shapiro, Associate Professor of Judaic and Near Eastern Studies, Director of Religious Studies, and Director of the UMass Posen Program in Jewish Secularism, served as moderator.


Guest Lecture, Fall 2010

“Arab/Jew/Arab Jew:  Sephardi youth and the racialization of Jewishness in France”

Kimberly Arkin, Department of Anthropology, Boston University

Wednesday, December 8th, 4:00PM

Herter Hall, Room 301


All events are free, open to the public, and wheelchair accessible.


For further information, contact:

Professor Susan Shapiro, Director
Religious Studies Certificate Program
Department of Judaic and Near Eastern Studies
732 Herter Hall
161 Presidents Drive
UMass Amherst
Amherst, MA 01003-9312
Telephone: (413) 545-4464
e-mail: UMass Religious Studies Certificate Program

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