A religious studies and social work program in Washington State will open next year, and the university will hire more than 100 students in the fall, to help it attract more students.
The Washington State University Religious Studies and Social Work Program, which began its 2017-18 academic year, will offer classes in Islamic studies, history, psychology, sociology and anthropology.
The program will also offer courses in gender and sexuality, and will train students in social and emotional issues.
“It’s really a natural fit for our campus, our students, our faculty and staff,” said Dr. Aysha Tariq, the university’s vice chancellor for student affairs.
“We really wanted to have a program that was going to be really inclusive of all kinds of students.”
Tariq said she had been looking for a place to expand the program for years.
The university is the latest in a series of university institutions to open religious studies programs in the last several years.
The University of Arizona opened its program last year, as did the University of Florida, the University at Buffalo and the University College London.
The University of Virginia is also making the transition, while the University System of Maryland and the Western Carolina University in North Carolina also offer programs in religious studies.
The university of Michigan opened a program in religious history last fall, and Stanford University in California is planning to start a similar program next year.
A spokesman for the University Senate said it is not yet clear how many students will take the classes in 2018.
But he said the university plans to have more than 300 students take the courses.
“Our goal is to get the student body as close to 50 as possible,” said spokesman Dan Smith.
“The goal is for a number of students to take a course, and we’ll have a full-time faculty member available to teach the course, as we do at other universities.”
The program at Washington State is being managed by the Center for Humanities and Social Sciences at Washington state university.
The program is not being closed.
The center’s executive director, John Foye, said the center was formed to help students in need of resources and support in their pursuit of a better future.
“What we do is we provide that, and it is for people who are looking for that support, who are experiencing that in their lives,” he said.
Foye said he hopes the religious studies students will have a positive impact on their communities.
“When you have a religious minority group, they are always going to feel isolated and marginalized,” he explained.
“What we’re doing is trying to create an environment where they can really feel a little bit more in control of their own lives.”
The center has helped other universities around the country create programs to offer religious studies as part of their undergraduate programs.
The Center for Diversity and Inclusion, a nonprofit, was formed in 2009 by students and alumni of several universities and faith-based organizations to offer a more diverse and inclusive space for religious studies, according to its website.
In addition to religious studies classes, the center offers an online religious studies course and a study abroad program for Muslim and Hindu students, as well as a scholarship program for religious minorities.
The group’s president, Dr. Mohammad Salameh, said he believes that the religious study program at the Washington State university is a positive step for religious diversity in the United States.
“This is a huge opportunity for our students to get involved in the religious culture of this country, and hopefully that will help them be more comfortable in a diverse society,” Salamea said.