Student Update – Andrew Perera

RS Alumnus Andrew Perera–an Eric Freed Peace & Justice Award winner from this last year–has given us an update on his life and work after graduation. Here is his note:

Hi classmates and colleagues! I trust you are all excited for your classes in the coming days. I’d like to update you all on the goings-on of my life, post baccalaureate. I have been hired on as a biology and ecology teacher at St. Lawrence middle school in Santa Clara. As many of you know, I spent 4 years studying biology before switching to Religious Studies. However, I am still trying to change the whole education system to be more inclusive and critical, which means that eventually I have to move back into Social Studies to continue that mission.

I am starting a M.Ed. program at Notre Dame de Namur University in Belmont, where I will also earn 2 single subject credentials (biology and Social Science). Classes (as a teacher and as a student) start this week so I am about to enter into a world of business. Just in time to welcome our son, Finn, into the world. I will send photos of my classes and of Finn in due time.

If you’d like, you can find me on Facebook and I will add you. My name there is Andrew John Bear, or Papa_the_redbear on Instagram. That would make it easier to follow my classes and grad school process.

I miss you all and I will be visiting soon.

Be well in whatever you do,
Andrew Perera


Erin Kircher in Glastonbury for Summer, 2016

Update – Erin was kind enough to give us a fuller account of her work this summer (one can still find the first, shorter description below this new update). Here is Erin’s longer report:



                                      Glastonbury Summer Volunteer Experience


To those who might not have had the chance to meet me, my name is Erin Leilani Kircher, and I will soon be a graduate of the Religious Studies department with a Minor in History from Humboldt State University.

Initially, I chose to major in Religious Studies to follow through on my lifetime passion of understanding ancient world cultures and traditions. Of those ancient curiosities, one specific set of mythology that has been a part of my life since I can remember attending preschool has been the legends of King Arthur and his knights. Part of what holds my attention to Arthurian legends, along with others throughout the ages, is how simple and tangible they appear on the surface, yet the more they are studied the more complex and dumbfounding they become. As my final year with Humboldt State University comes to a close, I have had the amazing opportunity to work alongside the Glastonbury Experience organization, which takes those who want to tour sites associated with Arthurian legend and Joseph of Arimithea (when he supposedly came to Britain) as well as other Celtic sites.

Regarding the specific role that I have been hired to be for the Glastonbury Experience organization, I will essentially be their experimental subject to test an official Glastonbury Pilgrimage route that they can present to the Glastonbury Town Council by this coming September 2016. Over the years, the Glastonbury Pilgrimage Center (part of the Glastonbury Experience organization) has only given visitors a rough map of the terrain of Glastonbury and nothing further. No tour guides, very few site markers, brief New Age spiritual backgrounds, and hardly any historical context behind what are considered to be sacred sites around Glastonbury. This is the core set of problems that I have been hired on to help solve for the Glastonbury Experience. Just this past week, I have officially completed their rough draft of the set pilgrimage route to Arthurian/Celtic Briton/Joseph of Arimithean sites. Exhausting would be a vast understatement.

In short, what I hope to accomplish in the next five weeks with my time as part of the Glastonbury Experience organization is to help establish a pilgrimage rout accessible to all platforms of spiritual paths. Currently, Glastonbury heavily focuses on more New Age Celtic and Goddess practices, and does not have a guided tour or pamphlet summary of the terrain that makes the area more contextual for those who do not subscribe to either sets of spiritual practice. In addition, the majority of the sites historically relevant to Arthurian legends have now been eradicated by the Industrial Revolution or swallowed by the landscape within the last 400 years, and are extremely difficult for people who are handicapped to access. Hopefully, the research and experience that I will be providing the Glastonbury Experience organization can help establish a pilgrimage route accessible to all spiritual backgrounds and physical abilities, as well as helping historical sites that have been lost through time around the terrain become remembered again.


Original Post – Here is an short description from one of our current students, Erin Kircher, on her summer in Glastonbury, England. We hope to have a full write up very soon on her experience. In the meantime, here is what Erin is up to:

“Essentially, my official duty is to take pilgrimage through the sacred sites associated with Arthurian legend and Joseph of Arimathea, while also providing a detailed journal and final formal analysis objectively describing how the experience would be for someone who is not familiar with any aspect of King Arthur and Joseph of Arimathea. What the Glastonbury Experience organization I am a volunteer for wants to accomplish is an official pilgrimage route that they can present to the Glastonbury Town Council, so that tourists and practitioners of Neo-Avalonian/Pagan spirituality can experience a religious-like endeavor similar to what is offered at other holy sites around the world. At the moment the project is very underground and evolving, and they are very excited to have me as an academic Religious Studies and History student to provide a young millennial perspective, so I will be introduced to other scholars within the Somerset region for further education and research. This is a project that not too many of my fellow students can experience, so I am extremely grateful to be involved with something so massive as an establishment of an official Arthurian pilgrimage route!”

Religious Studies Graduation Reception, 2016

Here are some pictures from our Religious Studies graduation reception–on May 14th, 2016 at Larson Park in Arcata, CA. Congratulations to all our wonderful students! And a special mention to our student award winners:

Eric Freed Peace & Justice Award – Andrew Perera

Outstanding Student Award – Zoe Thurman & Cade Strickland


Roy King and Robert Underhill Lecture on DNA Research, Pre-History, and Biblical Studies

On April 13, the Religious Studies department welcomed Drs. Roy King and Peter Underhill (HSU alum) to campus to speak on “Climate Change & Migration, through Genetics and Religious Studies.” Both drove from Stanford, and led over 100 students and communities members through a multi-disciplinary lecture and discussion of topical interest to many of us here on the HSU campus.

Underhill has been working in research that allows us now to understand ancient populations through detailed analysis of DNA typologies, that include many people from pre-historic cultures. He gave an overview of the science behind this, and Roy King followed with a discussion of how this research allows us to understand more about the emergence of ancient Israelite culture and the Hebrew Bible.

The event was a success, and we hope to have one or both of these scholars back for another event in the coming academic year.

Iranian Scholars Give Lecture on Islamic Mysticism

On April 2, 2015 Mohammad Monib and Mohammad Amindin (Professors at the International Institute for Islamic Studies in Tehran, Iran) gave a lecture about the foundations of Islamic Mysticism on the HSU campus. They stressed the importance of compassion and justice as central concepts and practices for all of Islamic life, but also for the elevated consciousness that derives from Sufi practice. Their lectures were informative and filled with excellent examples from their long experience and extensive study of Islam in Iran. We celebrate this magnificent example of intercultural exchange.

Many thanks to Mary Bockover for organizing this event, and for including Religious Studies as partners with the Philosophy Department in sponsoring the lecture.

Memorial for Eric Freed in Arcata

On Sunday, March 1, 2015, from 2:00-5:00 p.m., Humboldt State University’s Religious Studies Department hosted a celebrative commemoration of the life and legacy of Father Eric Freed at the Plaza Grill, at 780 7th Street in Arcata.

It has been a year since the tragic death of Father Eric Freed, and the HSU Religious Studies department has worked during this time to render this unfathomable loss into something positive for our students and community. Eric left us with a strong awareness of how important community is to our individual and collective well-being. It is in this spirit that we invited alumni, friends, and the greater community to an afternoon in celebration of Eric’s life and the ways that we can, and do, work together to foster peace and justice.

Father Freed taught courses for the HSU Religious Studies department for seven years, during which time he influenced countless students as they practiced engaged scholarship, learned deeply of the religious traditions of the world, and applied what they learned to projects, large and small, for human betterment. His positive impact continues to reverberate through our classrooms, congregations, community centers, and through myriad individual hearts and minds.

Students, alumni, friends of Eric, and the community at large gathered to celebrate his legacy of engaged scholarship, social justice, and human kindness through sharing reflections, food, and fellowship.

Josh Rudolph and Willie Schubert Give Career Talk on Campus

Josh Rudolph (RS/International Studies, 2009) and Willie Schubert (GEOG) gave an inspiring presentation on their work since graduation. It shows the sorts of things you can do with a degree from HSU and the passion to follow your dream. Josh found his inspiration in the study of Chinese language and culture while majoring in RS. Willie (who did not major in RS, but worked with us extensively) began his work in social activism during his undergraduate years. For more on their current activities, see the poster for their alumni talk. Thanks to Tony Rossi for organizing this event.

Clergy for Choice Meet on HSU Campus

The Religious Studies Department was proud to join the local Clergy for Choice group in sponsoring the screening of Jon O’Brien’s documentary film, The Secret History of Sex, Choice, and Catholics on campus on the evening of January 29. O’Brien, president of the international non-profit Catholics for Choice, visited campus to introduce the film and to lead a discussion on the relationship between religion and public policy. Over 200 students and community members attended. We thank all who participated in the event, and look forward to seeing you all at future events.