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ALLENTOWN, PA (June 19, 2012) – Muhlenberg College will offer Jewish studies as a major starting in the fall of 2013.  The College has had a Jewish studies minor program since 1988.

It is the first new major added to the curriculum since film studies and finance were approved in 2006.  The newest minors include Latin American studies and film studies.

“The field of Jewish studies is dedicated to the critical analysis of Jewish texts, ideas, culture and historical experience within the broader context of the study of the humanities,” says Dr. Hartley Lachter, associate professor of religion studies and the director of the Jewish studies program.  “As an interdisciplinary field, course offerings in Jewish studies address a wide range of subjects.”

“Muhlenberg is in the fortunate position to be able to offer a high quality, robust major in Jewish studies,” adds Lachter.  “Developing this major at Muhlenberg will set us apart from other institutions to which our students typically apply.”

Founded in 1848, Muhlenberg College is a highly selective, private liberal arts college affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.  It has become nationally known for its religious diversity.  The current student body is approximately one-third Jewish and one-third Roman Catholic, with the remaining third comprised of Protestants, students who declare no religious preference, and students with a wide range of religious backgrounds including Muslims, Buddhists and Hindus. The College’s commitment to a diverse community, and creative engagement in that diversity, is embodied in the 22-year record of its Institute for Jewish-Christian Understanding.

 “A Jewish studies major will be a significant plus for many prospective students who are considering Muhlenberg,” says Christopher Hooker-Haring, dean of admissions and financial aid.  “Students are looking for more opportunities to study the diversity of human cultures.  The college has developed a number of vibrant and high quality interdisciplinary programs in recent years, and our new Jewish studies major will build on this strength.”

 “The development of this major grows out of our successful Jewish studies minor,” says Muhlenberg College Provost Dr. John Ramsay.  “It provides all students an opportunity to pursue the interdisciplinary study of the rich heritage and contemporary significance of the Jewish people, their history, culture and religion within an international context.  We are fortunate to be able to support this new major with courses in Hebrew, religion studies, philosophy, history and political science.” 

Courses taken abroad at institutions in Israel and Europe, as well as courses taken though the College’s newly established agreement with the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York, provide further opportunities for students in the field of Jewish studies.