UC Berkeley Terminates Religious Studies Major
BERKELEY, CA – MARCH 04: Students at UC Berkeley block Sather Gate as they demonstrate during a national day of action against funding cuts and tuition increases March 4, 2010 in Berkeley, California. Students across the country are walking out of classes and holding demonstrations against massive tuition increases and funding cuts to college universities. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
The University of California, Berkeley will no longer be offering the religious studies major, the Daily Californian reported Sunday.
Dean of undergraduate studies, Bob Jacobsen, told the campus newspaper that the decline of the major can be attributed to a lack of enrollment and not due to a lack of funding.
The university created a review committee for the religious studies major, and in November 2013 a committee report concluded that the program had become “seriously compromised” due to declining enrollment and lack of investment from faculty. The review committee admitted that the program didn’t even have an office and failed to serve its students who wanted to apply to graduate school and pursue religion at an advanced level.
UC Berkeley alumnus Damian Lanahan-Kalish majored in religious studies and believes that a “lack of investment” from the university contributed to the major’s decline.
“They don’t have a lot of professors in the program,” Lanahan-Kalish told the Daily Californian. “It didn’t have a lot of students or resources…it was hard to attract more students.”
Lanahan-Kalish noted that in his graduating class only five or six students majored in religious studies. He also said that he believes students at UC Berkeley tend to find careers in the tech industry and not religion.
Jacobsen said that although the religious studies major is no longer being offered, there are still ways for students at UC Berkeley to study religion.
“We have programs for Buddhist studies and a center for Jewish studies. Lots of humanities majors incorporate religion across their study,” Jacobsen said.
UC Berkeley did not respond to a request to comment in time for publication.