Chair’s Welcome

Dr. Molly Bassett (Chair) and family.

Dr. Molly Bassett (Chair) and family.

As a college student, I loved the day the class schedule posted. Seeing the list of new classes in my humanities department alongside interesting courses in other programs made my heart sing. With paper, pencil, and highlighters in hand, I drew a week’s calendar and plotted my options: required courses wedged between Honors seminars and everything else I was dying to take. It was a little bit of heaven. 

As an undergrad, I was in a relatively small program in a large state university that seemed to offer up magic each semester. Over four years, I took a range of courses: Sexuality in the Ancient World, Greek and Roman Mythology, and “Literature and Lore of Tall Sailing Ships” (actual course title). My anatomy class took a trip to the med school to see a cadaver, and my fine arts seminar concluded with a weekend on the Mall in D.C.

My major had few prerequisites. That’s university-speak for the fact that I had a lot of freedom as a student.

Our Department of Religious Studies reminds me of my undergrad program. Both have faculty who know their students’ names, both host interesting programs with free food (!!!), and both offer curious students a space to examine pressing questions about life, meaning, big ideas, and the future.

The Religious Studies degree programs at Georgia State are opportunities to choose-your-own-adventures: study a tradition in depth, discover the variety of religions in the world, or do both by studying global religions in Atlanta. Whichever adventure you choose, a degree in Religious Studies from GSU prepares you for the “real world” by introducing you to the significant texts, traditions, and practices that frame our lives.

It’s not by accident that Religious Studies students go on to careers in business, education, law, nonprofit, and administration. We are preparing our majors, our minors, our graduate students, and the friends they convince to take “just one” of our classes for meaningful careers. Some of our graduates decide to pursue advanced degrees, but those who immediately enter the workforce are well-equipped to engage in our already global and increasingly networked worlds. They leave the University with skill sets that balance practical applications–like our M.A. and Certificate in Nonprofit Management–with sensitivity acquired while studying “War, Peace, and Religion,” “Religion and Sex in Pop Culture,” “Comparative Study of Mysticism,” and “Life of Muhammad.”

I could go on and on about our classes, our research, our internships, our Fellowships, our study abroad courses, our digital projects, our alumni board, and our Pizza Tuesdays. They are some of the best you’ll find–anywhere!

Instead, I’ll welcome you:

Whoever you are, and whatever questions bring you to the Department of Religious Studies, you are welcome. Make our department your home at Georgia State. In your time here, major in what matters, and then use your degree to make a difference.