Student Update – Zack Payne

Former RS student Zack Payne recently had a Bar Mitzvah. Zack was kind enough to share videos and pictures of the event with us (which you can see below). Zack is also beginning the process of applying to law school. For pictures of the event, click here.



Student Update – Connor Austin

Connor Austin sent us an update from his time at the UC Davis Religious Studies Conference and Shakti Fest. Connor has graciously allowed us to share his message–and his presentation paper! See below for the message and the link to Connor’s research…


Dear Religious Studies Faculty,

Thank you all so much for assisting me in my journey to the UC Davis religious studies conference last semester.  My presentation went extremely well!  Also, I was able to connect with some of the most intelligent students I’ve ever met and learn quite a lot in the process.  The topics presented were as interesting as they were diverse.  Students spoke on issues ranging from the social and spiritual implications of reading the Koran on a kindle to the changing societal narratives regarding assisted suicide and how the phenomenon interfaces with modern Christian perspectives.  Listening to papers from 9am to 5pm was exhausting, but also highly rewarding!  Throughout the weekend I had a chance to discuss my research with some wonderful professors from all over the state who shared with me some valuable knowledge about RS graduate programs.

Being able to attend Shakti Fest really took my research to the next level.  It’s funny, merely three days actually engaging with the cultures I had been studying forced me to reevaluate my entire stance and question quite a lot of my so-called “research”.  It was an eye-opening experience, and the support of the RS faculty was instrumental in making it happen.  Thank you again for everything!  Below I’ve attached a copy of my research paper, please read it if you get a chance.

With gratitude,


Connor Austin research (2)


Event – Understanding Islam

Understanding Islam – A Community Conversation 

Tuesday, November 1st, 2016

Kate Buchanan Room, UC 225

6-8 PM

All are welcome!


Religious Studies Department, Humboldt State University


Leena Dallasheh, Department of History

William Herbrechtsmeier, Department of Religious Studies

Saeed Mortazavi, Department of Business

Check Out Religious Studies Club!

The mission of the Religious Studies Club is to promote the Religious Studies program and its courses. We hope that we can also increase cultural awareness and understanding by highlighting various traditions around the world in multiple contexts.

The Religious Studies Club meets every Wednesday at 5 pm in the Depot near the pool tables. Come meet other majors and minors as well as faculty. Typically the meetings end at 7 pm. If you can’t make the whole meeting, feel free to just stop by and say hi!

Event – Documentary Screening

The Religious Studies Department is holding an event on the evening of Tuesday, September 6, from 6:00-9:00, in the KBR (on the HSU campus, below the clock tower).

We’ll be screening the feature documentary Oriented, a film about three gay Palestinian men living in Tel Aviv. The film will address questions of gender, sexuality, queer politics, religion, and nationality, among other things, and the discussion to follow the film should be a lively one.

This event is free and open to the public, and is being offered to correspond with, and in support of, Humboldt Pride Week.

RS Flyer: Oriented Flyer 9.6.2016 (1)

Oriented Website:

Oriented Trailer:



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.