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UCLA Center for the Study of Religion introduce new minor

By Stephen Stewart

Sept. 30, 2013 2:01 a.m.

Students interested in exploring the history and tenets of the world’s spiritual beliefs can now minor in the study of religion.

The UCLA Academic Senate, a body that allows faculty to determine academic curriculum, recommended that UCLA’s religion program form the minor in its recent review of the program, according to Kyle McJunkin, director of curriculum coordination and operations.

“Students over the years have increasingly voiced an interest in the study of religion, in particular in the prospects of minoring it,” said Carol Bakhos, associate professor in Jewish Studies. “They are interested in the big questions.”

Students are also often looking for a minor that will complement their major in another field, Bakhos added.

Howard Chung, a fourth-year study of religion and Asian religions student and president of the Study of Religion student group, said he has met students who expressed interest in studying the subject, but were unwilling to major in it.

“The minor gives opportunities (to students) that do not want to commit to the major because of lower coursework,” Chung said.

The minor will consist of eight to nine courses, depending on how a student meets its requirements. The minor is now open to enrollment for any student who has a 2.0 GPA and has completed 45 units.

Since the program is interdepartmental, it will not cost the university any extra money, McJunkin said.

While faculty were initially worried that a minor would detract from the study of religion major, some instructors and professors told Bakhos that they hope the minor could serve as some students’ gateway into the major, he said.

Currently, no students are enrolled in the minor, as incoming first-year and transfers could not enroll in the program prior to the start of the quarter, said Esther Chang, student affairs officer for the study of religion.

Eventually, department officials expect the same number of students to be enrolled in the minor and the major, which averages at about 30 students a year, McJunkin said.

“I think it can become a popular minor,” McJunkin said. “I would love if (enrollment in the minor) exploded.”

Students can enroll in the minor by speaking to Chang. There will be an information session regarding the study of religion major and minor on Oct. 18. at 2 p.m. in Humanities 365.

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