ARC to offer new Humanities class


Photo Courtesy of Keith Atwater

Humanities 355 will be offered next spring and will feature field trips to local places of worship.

Kevin Sheridan and Kevin Sheridan

American River College will be introducing a new course entitled Humanities 355: Introduction to World Religion during the spring 2014 semester.

According to the course description, the class will focus on the focus on the origins and development of major world religions including Christianity, Islam, and Judaism.

The class will also use religious texts, such as the Bible and the Quran, and arts to help gain further understanding about the religions. The class will also be taught online.

As part of the course, students will also listen to sacred religious music. The class will also briefly cover Native American religions.

Humanities 355 will be offered on Friday from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. in Davies Hall 201, and the class does not have a pre-requisite to join. The course is worth three units and will be instructed by Keith Atwater.

Atwater says he believes the class important for understanding other cultures in the area.

“We’re the only college that doesn’t have one, everyone else has one. (It’s) especially important now with the conflict in the Middle East, but also the largest Sikh community, outside of India, is Northern California,” said Keith Atwater, the instructor of the course.

Atwater has also taught other religious classes at ARC before, including teaching the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament.

Kate Jaques, dean of the Humanities department, says the course is necessary for higher learning.

“This class represents a unique opportunity for students to do something that we can consider fundamental in higher education, which is to expand your exposure to different cultures and different ideas,” she said.

ARC is currently the only college in the Los Rios district that does not have a class on the major world religions.

While the class will count towards general education, Jaques says the department will not offer the class as part of an ADT degree for transfer.

“There’s not an ADT degree that will be offered in the humanities because it is so interdisciplinary, and it’s not very frequently offered as a degree at a community college and so its unlikely that an ADT degree will develop,” she said.

The course will also feature field trips to places of worship in the community around ARC, including a trip to the Salam Islamic Center and to synagogues and temples around the area, an experience that Atwater feels will be culturally beneficial to the students.

“They’ll be able to be inside the building where people pray, they can see the art … they can see the heart and soul of these traditions,” he said.

Atwater says he also wants guest speakers from these temples to come and speak to the class.

Atwater also says the course was proposed because no one in the philosophy department was due to teach the course and that it seemed like a perfect fit for the Humanities Department.

The course will count towards general education at ARC, and will fulfill a multi cultural breadth requirement, which is desired by all University of California schools.

Atwater added that he believes the course will be popular due to the fact that similar courses offered at other colleges have a high enrollment.