The Religious Studies Program at the University of Houston originated in 1985 to address the increased student interest in understanding the influence of religion on human behavior and world affairs, and to expand in new directions the commitment of the university to cultivating knowledge in every field of human endeavor. The program is based on the belief that promoting knowledge of the history, practices and ideas of religion is important for the education of thoughtful citizens and for the preservation of a free society.
The Religious Studies Program offers a rational and analytical approach to the study of world religions and of religion in America. The program’s faculty believes that study of religion provides a valuable and fruitful interdisciplinary approach to the study of the humanities and to the securing of a liberal education. From 1996 it has offered a minor in Religious Studies. A typical course in the program draws on the disciplines of literary analysis, history, sociology, anthropology, psychology, art history, and political philosophy. The intent of the program is not denominational advocacy, then, but to promote the academic study of a very important area of human experience. Within the contours of a single course, therefore, students can encounter many essential aspects of the human situation.
The Religious Studies Program is directed by Professor Lynn E. Mitchell, who proposed and actively implemented the establishment of the Religious Studies Program here at the University of Houston. He has been teaching and continuing to develop courses in religious studies since 1985 and he has raised much of that support that now sustains the program. Professor Mitchell received his doctorate in religious studies at Rice University and has served on the faculty of the University of St. Thomas for eleven years before coming to the University of Houston. He is well known in the Houston area as a consultant on religious topics by the media, religious, corporate, and legal institutions.