Pitzer College Launches New Field Group in Secular Studies
Claremont, Calif. (May 9, 2011) — Pitzer College will launch a Secular Studies Field Group in the fall 2011-12 academic year. With the creation of this department, Pitzer College will become the only higher education institution to offer courses and an undergraduate degree in secular studies.
The creation of a Secular Studies Field Group reflects an emerging interest in an awareness of the notable growth of secularity in America and elsewhere. For example:
- Approximately 660,000 Americans join the ranks of those claiming no religion each year. Fifteen percent claims "none" when asked about religious affiliations, a doubling of "none" since 1990.
- Twenty-seven percent of Americans currently "do not practice any religion" and 22% say that religion is "not a factor" in their lives.
- The Secular Student Alliance – a college campus group for nonbelievers – reports 240 chapters nation-wide, up from 42 in 2003.
- Almost 30% of Canadians can be considered secular and approximately 1 in 5 Canadians does not believe in God.
- Fifteen percent of Australians claim to have no religious beliefs.
- In France, 33% of the citizenry are atheists, while in Belgium, the percentage is 27%. Rates of unbelievers are even higher in the Czech Republic, Estonia and Slovenia.
- Sizeable secular populations can also be found around the world including Israel, Uruguay, Japan, South Korea and Azerbaijan.
The Secular Studies Field Group will be headed by Pitzer College Professor Phil Zuckerman, an internationally renowned secular studies scholar. It will offer courses focused on various aspects of secularity from a historical, philosophical and sociological perspective. It entails the study of non-religious people, groups, thought and cultural expressions. Emphasis will be placed upon the meanings, forms, relevance and impact of political/constitutional secularism, philosophical skepticism and personal and public secularity.