Religious Studies & Philosophy

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 religious studies and philosophy section of the online Curriculum Guide.

Gretel Schatz

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

Becca Malloy

Science isn't just talk, but it certainly helps.

Mary Hefner

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

Faculty Profiles

This past summer, I increased my awareness of my identity by reconnecting with my native country, Ethiopia.


“I don’t think I would be anywhere near the person I am today if it wasn’t for NMH. It’s enlightened me about so many different things, and I’ve met people from everywhere you can imagine.”


In my old school, I never saw myself as someone who could be a Division I player one day. Now I can.


"One of my biggest influences has been my math teacher. He built this love of math in me—specifically, the idea that math can be used to interpret the world." 


"The fact that everything is here at my fingertips has really helped me grow."


"Almost all of our classes are conversation-based, which means that you're totally engaged in classroom discussion."


"I enjoy helping my friends, and it's given me a new respect for teachers. I may even go into teaching myself one day."


"In VOTES, I learned how to prepare and present—skills I drew on in Washington."


 "This year, I'm field hockey captain. I enjoy giving advice and support."


“I like that you can start completely new things. You can reinvent yourself.”


Dance has taken this creative learner on an artistic journey. 

Xiaoxian (Lily)

 “My teachers told me to use my own voice, and they pushed me to think about what I really believed in.”


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


“The academics are extremely rigorous, but because of the way teachers present things, it’s like, ‘I have school today!’”


“The learning you can do in a study-abroad program can outweigh anything else you can do even at a school like this.” 


“NMH encouraged me to explore new things, try everything, and see what’s best for me.”


“You’ll always find a place here as long as you just be yourself.”


“There is a community here that cares about you.”

Student Profiles