Religious Studies Courses

The religious studies major and minor are composed of a variety of classes across the disciplines. Below, you will find a description of both the core REL courses and those from other disciplines, composing the Global Perspectives, Disciplinary Approaches, and Electives categories.

REL 100: Religions of the World:
An interdisciplinary study of multiple world religions in their cultural, historical and political context. Students will investigate topics including belief structures, ritual systems, sacred literature, social dimensions and historical development of various religious traditions. The course will include identification and comparison of key aspects of religion across traditions. Fulfills on of the Foundation - Social and Behavioral Sciences. Fulfills Cultures - World Perspectives. Offered every semester.

REL 200: Introduction to Religious Studies: Concepts, Methods & Traditions
An interdisciplinary introduction to the history and traditions of major world religions, identifying and applying basic terminology and conceptual frameworks in the field of religious studies. Offered at least once each year. Credits: 3

REL 300: Contemporary Theories and Issues in Religious Studies
An analysis of how contemporary religions have been reframed in response to the secular and scientifically-oriented world, including the religious response to globally diverse religious perspectives. Topics may include religion and spirituality, fundamentalism, non-western religions, feminist perspectives and religion and environmentalism. Credits: 3

REL 305: Christianity: Global Perspectives
This course examines the sacred stories, rituals and historical development of the three major traditions of the Christian religion: Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholicism, and Protestantism. It surveys the development of Christianity from its Jewish and Hellenistic roots through contemporary attempts to translate the Christian faith for the 21st century. Credits: 3

REL 380: Special Topics in Religious Studies
Various topics courses emphasizing the practice of religious studies in relation to a contemporary problem, issue, or theme. If content differs, may be repeated for credit. Credits: 3

Winter 2016: Religion and the Sciences of Origins. We will examine the claims of the Abrahamic traditions about the origins of the world and life and the relationships of such claims to scientific theories on the origin of the universe, life, humans, morality, and even the gods themselves. Students interested in taking this course for  3 hours of elective credit in the REL program should register for Winter 2016 MW 3-4:15 in HON 214.

REL 399: Independent Readings in Religious Studies
An interdisciplinary and scholarly or creative project initiated by the student who has special interest in religious studies not available in the current curriculum. Student, faculty, and advisors agree on the scope of the study, its components, and methods of evaluation. May be repeated for credit if content differs. Credits: 1-4

REL 495: Religious Studies Senior Seminar
An integration of various disciplinary and/or contemporary approaches to the academic study of religions, including the role of religious studies in professional and cultural settings. Students will develop and present a problem-based senior thesis on a contemporary problem or issue. Credits: 3

REL 499: Independent Studies in Religious Studies
Independent research and investigation in religious studies from an interdisciplinary perspective. May be repeated for credit if content differs. Credits: 1-4

Additional Courses Included in the REL Major/Minor

ANT 315: Comparative Religions
A cross-cultural study of contemporary religions. Examines the diversity of religious meanings through the lived experiences of cultures, traditions, and sects around the world. Exposes students to anthropological interpretations of religion through a range of methods, including ethnography. Themes include symbolisms, ritual, death, shamanism, healing, magic, pilgrimage and interfaith movements.

ANT 316: Death, Burial and Culture
This course examines how different cultures approach issues and customs surrounding death. Drawing on evidence from biological and cultural anthropology and archaeology, students learn from the dead by exploring the experience of death and how it illuminates life in different cultures around the world and through time.

CJ 405: Terrorism
A survey of modern domestic and international terrorism. Examines the structure and dynamics of terrorist groups, types of terrorist violence, and justification of violence. Analyses of geographical regions, religion, ideology, technology, counter measures, media, and mass destruction.

CLA 315: Ancient Religion
A study of the religious beliefs and practices of the ancient world, emphasizing the religious traditions of Greece, Rome, Egypt, and the Near East. Topics include views of the afterlife, temples and sanctuaries, religion in daily life, mystery religions, and the rise of the monotheistic religions of Judaism and Christianity.

ENG 204: World Mythology
A comparative look at myths, folk tales, and fairy tales and how they derive from, and work on, the mind of a culture, both socially and aesthetically. Examines these tales as works of art in their own right and also as metaphors expressing a society's major values, themes, and preoccupations.

HST 211: History of Islamic Civilization
An introduction to the history of Islamic civilization and the development of its relationships with Western Europe and the United States.

HST 311: History of Religion/ U.S.
This course is a study of the major developments in the religious history of the United States from the first North American colonies to the start of the twenty-first century, concentrating on the relationship between religion and other aspects of American history.

HST 337: Age of Islamic Empire
A historical and cultural examination of the Islamic peoples from pre-Islamic Arabia to the end of World War I. Emphasis on social, religious, economic, and political factors during each phase in Islamic development since the eighth century.

HST 342: History of East Asian Religions
Introduces the major East Asian religious traditions and their modern developments through historical perspectives; also explores religious interactions among East Asian countries as well as their indigenous traits. Readings include primary materials and interpretative secondary scholarship.

HST 376: History of Witches
Examines witch trials in various places and times across history, from a variety of perspectives, with emphasis on the marginalization of the accused witches within their communities. Geographical and chronological focus will vary, but may include early modern Europe, colonial North America, or contemporary Africa.

LIB 300: Jewish Scriptures and Traditions
Focusing in the textual heritage of Judaism, the ancestor of Islam and Christianity as well as a vibrant religion today, this course explores Jewish traditions and rituals as they originated throughout history and as practiced today in the worlds diverse Jewish Communities.

LIB 335: Scriptures as Literature
A comparative study of Scriptures as literary masterpieces that shape and influence their respective cultural expressions and literary traditions. Readings include Scriptures from major world religions such as The Dhammapada, The Lotus Sutra, The Rig Veda, Upanishad, The Bible, The Koran, and Tao Te Ching.

MES 350: Islam Scripture & Rituals
The purpose of this course is to deepen the students’ understandings of Islam in its religious, social and historical contexts, i.e. to understand how Muslims live and what they believe. Offered winter semester.

MGT 340: Business, Social Change, Ethics
Examines the process of business development and the ethical questions that process raises. Particular attention is paid to the questions raised by market pressures, bureaucratic organization and income stratification.

PHI 210: Eastern Philosophy
Because the world is getting smaller, the scope of our knowledge and vision must expand. This course introduces students to major philosophies of the East, such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, and Daoism, through the study of classic texts.

PHI 306: Eastern Great Philosophers
A study of one or several Eastern great philosophers, such as Lao Zi, Chuang Zi, Confucius, Mencius, The Buddha, Nagarjuna, Zhu Xi, Wang Yangming. Focus will be on the philosophers writings, but attention also will be given to context and tradition.

PHI 312: Medieval Great Philosophers
A study of one or several medieval great philosophers, such as: Plotinus, Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, Maimonides. Focus will be on the philosophers writings, but attention also will be given to context and tradition.

PHI 341: Death and Dying
A philosophical exploration of ethical, religious, and metaphysical questions about death and dying, such as care for the dying, euthanasia, suicide, life after death. What is a human being? The meaning of life? Our place in the universe? Classical and contemporary writings, East and West, will be examined.

PHI 343: Philosophy of Religions
Does God exist? Is there a life after death? How did evil enter the world? Is there any place for reason in religion, or is religious faith only a matter of subjective experience? Questions like these will be considered, as well as the answers that have been given to them by some important religious philosophers.

PLS 330: Religion and Politics in U.S.
Explores the interaction of politics and religion in the United States. Surveys the political beliefs, behaviors, and organizations within major religious traditions. Other topics include the role of religion in crafting public policy, the politics of church and state, and general theories of religion and public life.

PSY 385: Psychology of Religion
A systematic study of psychological theories and empirical data on religious phenomena. Consideration will be given to various definitions of religious belief; the psychological explanations of religious behavior; the dynamics of religious thought, the relationships between religion, positive mental health, and psychopathology; and the social functions served by religion.

SOC 357: Sociology of Religions
Critically analyzes religion as an institutional structure and belief system and explores the relationship of religion to social change and organization. Emphasis on religion in the contemporary United States; includes attention to non-Western influences.