The Institute of Religious Studies, established in 1974, is the only academic unit in Poland to offer students an opportunity to engage in critical and interdisciplinary study of religion.
The beginnings of Religious Studies as an academic discipline were connected to the gradual processes of disentangling the study of religion from theology and other confessional modes of reflection. For a scholar of religious studies, religion is not a credo but rather an intellectual challenge: it is a phenomenon that needs to be understood and explained. The questions that structure our study programs address fundamental problems of the humanities as well as social and natural sciences: what is religion? why can we find it in all cultures? why do people believe that there are supernatural agents? what are the functions of communal rituals? how do religions influence other areas of life such as society, politics, culture or economy? what is the role of religion in human evolution?
Religion is one of the important and most complex elements of human experience. By studying it we immerse ourselves in the world of human cultures. In our degree programs students explore different religions in their cultural context. They compare myths, rituals and institutions of, e.g., Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism and traditional religions. They analyze texts and images to grasp their contents. They explore possibilities of analyzing religion from psychological, neurobiological, and cognitive approaches. They have also opportunities to learn languages required for more advanced studies of various religious traditions past and present. In our classes, students practice and improve their analytical skills and learn how to participate in rational debates. They write papers presenting their own research and thinking. In other words, we teach critical thinking and clear argumentation.
The skills acquired in our study programs are valued by employers in Poland and beyond. Our graduates find employment in cultural institutions, advertising, banking, schools, newspapers, tv channels and web portals. We are the oldest and most prestigious of Polish universities. Only in our Institute one can pursue religious studies and comparative cultural studies at every academic level under friendly supervision of experts in the field.