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Religious Studies & Philosophy

Teacher talking to three  students at co-ed boarding high school in new england

The religious studies and philosophy courses at Northfield Mount Hermon will get you to think about big questions: meaning and purpose, identity and community, ethics and destiny.

You'll search for answers about who you are and your place in the world. You'll study the world's religions and learn about their influences upon one another. You might look deeper into issues of violence, war, and other troubling human behaviors, or explore philosophy, from Socrates to the existentialists.

Many of the courses take an interdisciplinary approach, recognizing that human experience is not as neatly divided as conventional academic departments. Environmental studies, for example, cuts across lines of science, history, and ethics. Or a study of Islam is much richer when discussions of politics, culture, and the arts of the region are included. That's why classes like Global Inequities and Climate Change: 21st-Century Responses and The Islamic Middle East are taught by pairs of teachers, offer credits in two departments, and give a much deeper understanding of their subject matter.

In fact, your freshman and sophomore humanities requirements introduce you to this collaborative approach. With two teachers and credits in two different disciplines, you'll start by examining the relationship between humans and their environment through literary and philosophical expressions. Then, you'll explore the historical and traditional roles of the world's religions, including their myths, symbols, and geographic and social systems.

And at NMH, you'll go on many field trips. It might be to a local, sustainability-focused farm or a nearby Buddhist community. It might be to Yucca Mountain or a Navajo reservation or Rio de Janeiro. You'll hear lots of guest speakers, too: Holocaust survivors, journalists, military personnel, human rights activists, artists. And all of this, combined with passionate, caring faculty will help you grow and begin your quest for truth.

For more information, and to see course descriptions, see the Curriculum Guide.

Nhu Hoang

My philosophy is: Fail early, so you can eventually succeed.

Gretel Schatz, Director of the Dance program, instructs a dance student.

I want dance students to engage their own memory and intellect.

Mary Hefner

I love teaching AP Bio. The kids are highly motivated.


“The best thing about NMH is the connections you make.” 


“NMH challenges students to innovate and persevere while keeping in mind the effects of our actions on the community."


“This community gives me the resources to grow as a student and discover passions I never knew I had.” 


“I am confident in myself and my abilities to succeed, thanks to NMH.”


"I love the freedom I have to explore what I am passionate about."


"NMH gives us space to experiment and gradually to grow into ourselves."


"I noticed how welcoming everyone was when I first came to campus.”


“The first step to excelling at NMH is embracing your own individuality.” 


“I appreciate the bond faculty and students have at NMH.”


"The community at NMH is unlike any I’ve ever known, and for that I am grateful.”


"NMH allows me to be myself in the classroom and ensures I am an articulate, curious, and courageous student.”


“I was initially surprised by how relaxed, yet academic, the environment is."


"The curriculum here is hard, but it’s the right amount of hard."