Department of Religious Studies

Nancy M. Martin, Ph.D., Chair

Professors: Harran;

Associate Professors: Bidmead, Hughes, Luevano, Martin, Stearns.

Bachelor of Arts in Religious Studies

The Department of Religious Studies offers a major designed to address some of the most interesting and compelling issues in human life. Courses in religious studies explore such themes as the meaning of life and death, questions of faith and reason, the problem of evil, global ethics and the beliefs and practices of the religions of the world. The department is committed to the interdisciplinary study of religion. Courses in the religious studies program have an international scope and they approach religion by addressing the relationship of religion to history, sociology, psychology, economics, science, philosophy, literature and culture.

One of the advantages of the major in religious studies is its flexibility. Students are encouraged to develop a program that meets their own personal and professional goals and to pursue areas of particular interest in a more concentrated way. Students are also encouraged to consider the possibility of a second major in addition to religious studies. Many religious studies majors go on to obtain graduate degrees in religion from universities or theological schools and embark on careers in teaching, research or ministry. Others use the program as preparation for graduate work and successful careers in such fields as medicine, law, government, business and journalism. The department can advise students concerning preparation for graduate work in religion and other fields.

For the Bachelor of Arts in Religious Studies, a minimum of 21 credits must be upper–division. All courses in the major and the minor in religious studies must be taken for a letter grade and passed with a grade of "C" or higher.

Departmental Honors

The faculty of the Department of Religious Studies awards departmental honors to graduating seniors who have demonstrated outstanding academic work in religious studies. To be considered for departmental honors, students must maintain a grade point average of 3.500 in the major, complete a senior capstone project of significance and be nominated by a faculty member in the department.

Bachelor of Arts in Religious Studies

21 credits of upper–division (300–400 level) course work are required for the B.A.

foundations of religious studies (6 credits)

REL 115

Living Religions of the World

3

REL 130

The Study of Religion

3

scriptures and traditions (6 credits)

Judeo–Christian–Islamic traditions (3 credits)

one of the following

REL 200

Introduction to the Hebrew Scriptures

3

REL 201

Introduction to the New Testament

3

REL 202

Introduction to Islam

3

REL 204

Mesopotamian Myths and Rituals

3

REL 213

Introduction to Judaism

3

REL 214

Introduction to Christianity

3

REL 303

Readings of Qur'an and Hadith

3

REL 315

Archaeology of Ancient Israel

3

REL 316

Genesis and Gender

3

REL 323

Interpretation of Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament)

3

REL 324

Interpretation of the New Testament

3

REL 340

The Bible as Literature: The Hebrew Scriptures

3

REL 341

The Bible as Literature: The Christian Scriptures

3

Asian traditions (3 credits)

one of the following

REL 335

Hinduism and the Religions of India

3

REL 336

Buddhism

3

philosophy of religion and theology (3 credits)

one of the following

REL 125

Philosophy of Religion

3

REL 217

The Holocaust and Religious Faith

3

REL 309

Religion, Knowledge and Evil

3

REL 310

From Socrates to Aquinas

3

REL 311

Descartes to Kierkegaard

3

REL 319

Images of Jesus

3

REL 322

Topics in Theology

3

REL 322a

Philosophical Theology

3

religion, ethics and society (6 credits)

two of the following

REL 120

Global Ethics and Religion

3

REL 307

Germany and the Holocaust

3

REL 312

Religious Experience in Film and Fiction

3

REL 314

Fiction, Film and the Catholic Contemplative Tradition

3

REL 325

Albert Schweitzer: His Life and Thought

3

REL 330

Women and Religion

3

REL 350

Happiness: Exploring Its Spiritual and Rational Foundations

3

REL 351

Health, Healing and Wholeness in the World Religions

3

REL 365

Topics in the Holocaust

3

REL 365a

Perpetrators, Witnesses and Rescuers

3

REL 380

Law and Religion

3

REL 490

Independent Internship

3

Travel Courses

(to be approved by the chair of the department)

 

area of study (9 credits)

Three courses in an area of interest, to be chosen in discussion with a departmental advisor

9

requirements (6 credits)

REL 398

Junior–Senior Seminar

3

REL 498

Senior Capstone Project

3

total credits

 

36

Program Learning Outcomes and Educational Effectiveness Evaluation Plans for B.A. in Religious Studies.

Minor in the Department of Religious Studies

Minor in Religious Studies

The minor is offered for students who have a significant interest in religious studies which they wish to combine with their major course of study. The total number of credits required for a minor in religious studies is 21. A minimum of 12 credits must be upper–division.

foundations of religious studies (6 credits)

REL 115

Living Religions of the World

3

REL 130

The Study of Religion

3

scriptures and traditions (6 credits)

Judeo–Christian–Islamic traditions (3 credits)

one of the following

REL 200

Introduction to the Hebrew Scriptures

3

REL 201

Introduction to the New Testament

3

REL 202

Introduction to Islam

3

REL 204

Mesopotamian Myths and Rituals

3

REL 213

Introduction to Judaism

3

REL 214

Introduction to Christianity

3

REL 303

Readings of Qur'an and Hadith

3

REL 315

Archaeology of Ancient Israel

3

REL 316

Genesis and Gender

3

REL 323

Interpretation of Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament)

3

REL 324

Interpretation of the New Testament

3

REL 340

The Bible as Literature: The Hebrew Scriptures

3

REL 341

The Bible as Literature: The Christian Scriptures

3

Asian traditions (3 credits)

one of the following

REL 335

Hinduism and the Religions of India

3

REL 336

Buddhism

3

philosophy of religion and theology (3 credits)

one of the following

REL 125

Philosophy of Religion

3

REL 217

The Holocaust and Religious Faith

3

REL 309

Religion, Knowledge and Evil

3

REL 310

From Socrates to Aquinas

3

REL 311

Descartes to Kierkegaard

3

REL 319

Images of Jesus

3

REL 322

Topics in Theology

3

REL 322a

Philosophical Theology

3

religion, ethics and society (3 credits)

one of the following

REL 120

Global Ethics and Religion

3

REL 307

Germany and the Holocaust

3

REL 312

Religious Experience in Film and Fiction

3

REL 314

Fiction, Film and the Catholic Contemplative Tradition

3

REL 325

Albert Schweitzer: His Life and Thought

3

REL 330

Women and Religion

3

REL 350

Happiness: Exploring Its Spiritual and Rational Foundations

3

REL 351

Health, Healing and Wholeness in the World Religions

3

REL 365

Topics in the Holocaust

3

REL 365a

Perpetrators, Witnesses and Rescuers

3

REL 380

Law and Religion

3

REL 490

Independent Internship

3

Travel Courses

(to be approved by the chair of the department)

 

requirement (3 credits)

REL 398

Junior–Senior Seminar

3

total credits

 

21

Course Descriptions – Religious Studies

REL 115 Living Religions of the World

A survey of religious traditions of the world including Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism, Confucianism, Taoism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam: basic beliefs and practices and their relevance to human problems today. (Offered every semester.) 3 credits.

REL 120 Global Ethics and Religion

(Same as PHIL 120.) An introduction to ethical issues from the perspective of the world religions: What is the relationship between religion and ethics? Why do people suffer? How do the religions differ on ethics? Are there universal religious ethical values? (Offered every year.) 3 credits.

REL 125 Philosophy of Religion

(Same as PHIL 125.)

REL 130 The Study of Religion

The focus of the course is not on the study of any particular mode of religious expression, but on the shape and development of the discipline of comparative religion as a field of inquiry. The major issues covered in this course concentrate on the nature of religion and the methods used to study religious phenomena. Some of the methodologies introduced are cultural, historical, sociological, psychological, artistic, phenomenological, theological and feminist theories. Readings include primary texts from the major theorists on the nature of religion, manifestations of the sacred or holy, religious symbolism, myths, ritual, religious language, sacred texts, religious communities, concepts of fate, afterlife, destiny and gender relations in religion and society. Through case studies in several world religions students analyze the religion's history of interpretations and how these interpretations have impacted societal, cultural, and theological ideologies in a global context. (Offered every year.) 3 credits.

REL 199 Individual Study

(Offered as needed.) 3 credits.

REL 200 Introduction to the Hebrew Scriptures

Tradition, history, and literature in Israel: the development of the Hebrew scriptures in their various genres within the context of evolving ideas, values, and social concerns from Hebrew beginnings through the prophets to post–exilic times. (Offered every year.) 3 credits.

REL 201 Introduction to the New Testament

Students examine the Jesus of the gospels, gospel tradition, rise of the Christian community, life and letters of Paul, and later books of the New Testament. (Offered every year.) 3 credits.

REL 202 Introduction to Islam

An introduction to the faith and practices of Islam. The course will include an overview of the life of Prophet Muhammad, the Qur'an, Hadith, Islamic beliefs, acts of worship, moral and ethical codes, history, and culture. (Offered every fall.) 3 credits.

REL 204 Mesopotamian Myths and Rituals

This class surveys ancient Mesopotamian mythological and religious texts, exploring themes such as creation, death, afterlife, birth, magic, divination, witchcraft, liturgy, sacrifices, kingship, metaphor and symbolism, sexuality and gender roles. (Offered as needed.) 3 credits.

REL 213 Introduction to Judaism

This course traces the history, beliefs, literature, and practices of Judaism from its beginnings in the biblical period to modernity. (Offered every year.) 3 credits.

REL 214 Introduction to Christianity

This course introduces the origins of Christianity and provides a general understanding of its doctrines and history. In this class, we will consider divides among Western Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant traditions and explore various theological methods and schools, including modern Christian theological movements. Developing critical thinking and writing skills are also an essential part of this course of study. (Offered every year.) 3 credits.

REL 217 The Holocaust and Religious Faith

This course explores Judeo-Christian beliefs and values in relation to the events of the Holocaust. Central topics include the role of religious faith in survival, rescue, and resistance during the Holocaust and major Jewish and Christian theological interpretations of the Holocaust. (Offered fall semester, alternate years.) 3 credits.

REL 229 Experimental Course

(Offered as needed.) 3 credits.

REL 240 Interfaith Leadership, Understanding and Engagement

This course will focus on basic religious literacy integrated with the study and application of specific techniques, purposes, and strategies for interfaith dialog and action, equipping students for active engagement and leadership in fostering interfaith understanding and cooperation. (Offered as needed.) 3 credits.

REL 299 Individual Study

(Offered as needed.) 3 credits.

REL 303 Readings in Qur'an and Hadith

A study of the selected basic texts of Islam: the Qur’an and Hadith. The course will also include an introduction to the history and compilation of the Qur’an and Hadith, various methods of interpretations, classical and modern critical analysis as well as the issues related to the authenticity of these texts. (Offered every year.) 3 credits.

REL 304 The Ancient Mediterranean World

(Same as HIST 304.)

REL 306 The Middle Ages

(Same as HIST 306.)

REL 307 Germany and the Holocaust

(Same as HIST 307.) This course examines the Holocaust within the context of the history of World War II. Topics include the origins of the Holocaust, the implementation of the Final Solution, resistance to the Nazis, survivor experiences, and the legacy of the Holocaust. (Offered every year.) 3 credits.

REL 309 Religion, Knowledge, and Evil

(Same as PHIL 309.)

REL 310 From Socrates to Aquinas

(Same as PHIL 310.)

REL 311 Descartes to Kierkegaard

(Same as PHIL 311.)

REL 312 Religious Experience in Film and Fiction

This course introduces the relationship of the religious and spiritual experience and the arts. After setting down fundamental theological principles of spirituality, this course surveys the nature of religious experience through two accessible fonts: film and contemporary American fiction. (Offered every semester.) 3 credits.

REL 314 Fiction, Film and the Catholic Contemplative Tradition

Both the contemplative and artist share a profound inner encounter with the self in a creative and transformative experience. This course aligns these two encounters. The student will be introduced to the scholarly field of Spirituality and the praxis of the classic methods of meditation and contemplation. The course targets artistic expression in 20th century films and literature. A priority is also placed on critical thinking and writing. (Offered as needed.) 3 credits.

REL 315 Archaeology of Ancient Israel

(Same as HIST 315.) This course explores the archaeology, history, geography, and religions of ancient Israel during the biblical period (2000 BCE -70 CE) Settlement patterns, material culture, ethnic and religious identity as well as the pivotal relationship between archaeology and the Bible will be discussed. (Offered spring semester.) 3 credits.

REL 316 Genesis and Gender

Jewish, Christian, and Muslim interpretations of Genesis have shaped and defined gender roles and society hierarchies throughout history. This course examines the Genesis texts, through a variety of methodologies to understand gender roles, power, authority, sexuality, narrative, and cultural representations of the women. (Offered alternate years.) 3 credits.

REL 318 The Reformation

Students examine the events and ideas of the sixteenth–century Reformation. This course analyzes the transition from a medieval to a modern world view and the impact of the Reformation on education, politics, science, art, and the roles of men and women in society. (Offered as needed.) 3 credits.

REL 319 Images of Jesus

Jesus Christ has been the dominant religious and cultural figure in Western civilization for two-thousand years. In the past several years a great deal of popular attention has been directed to Jesus and his followers through the publication of The Da Vinci Code and The Gospel of Judas. In this course, we will critically evaluate recent historical conceptions of Jesus, including themes about Jesus, Mary Magdalene, and Judas Iscariot, and explore important implications those viewpoints bring to Christology and theology. (Offered as needed.) 3 credits.

REL 322 Topics in Theology

This course examines major topics in modern theology, focusing on the 20th and 21st centuries. Students consider theological understandings of God, the natural world, human nature and human community, and issues such as the relationship of revelation and reason, the relevance of God in the modern scientific world, the impact of inter-religious encounter, gender and sexual orientation on theological reflection, and the emergence of theologies of liberation and the call for social and ecological justice and care. (Offered as needed.) 3 credits.

REL 322a Philosophical Theology

(Same as PHIL 322a.) This course uses philosophical methodology to examine major issues in modern theology. Students consider issues such as whether God can be understood by human reason, whether there is only one correct understanding of God, the relevance of talking about God in the modern scientific world, and how the religious person should view contrary faiths of other religions. (Offered as needed.) 3 credits.

REL 323 Interpretation of the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament)

An intensive study of selected materials in the Hebrew scriptures: the prophets, the wisdom literature, the Deuteronomistic history, and the Pentateuch. (Offered as needed.) 3 credits.

REL 324 Interpretation of the New Testament

An intensive study of selected materials in the New Testament and early Christian literature, including images of Jesus, the gospel of John, the life and letters of Paul, and the gnostic gospels. Other topics on demand. (Offered every year.) 3 credits.

REL 325 Albert Schweitzer: His Life and Thought

(Same as PCST 325, PHIL 325.) This course explores Schweitzer's contributions to philosophy, theology, medicine, music, peace, philanthropy, and voluntary service. The primary focus will be on Schweitzer's central moral ideal of reverence for life and its contemporary relevance. (Offered every year.) 3 credits.

REL 329 Experimental Course

(Offered as needed.) 3 credits.

REL 330 Women and Religion

Students examine women's roles in religious traditions, including ways of being religious and religious leadership, as well as the recovery of women's voices from the past and the transformation of these traditions today. (Offered every year.) 3 credits.

REL 330a Women and Religion: Voodoo in Context

Students examine women's roles in religious traditions, including ways of being religious and religious leadership, as well as the recovery of women's voices from the past and the transformation of these traditions today. This travel course focuses particularly on women's roles in Voodoo to understand the intersection between gender and society. Fee: TBD. (Offered as needed.) 3 credits.

REL 335 Hinduism and the Religions of India

A study of the historical development of Hinduism; the texts, practices, and world views that characterize its various paths to liberation; other religious traditions arising in India (Sikhism, Jainism, and Buddhism); and the impact of Islam in this region. (Offered fall semester.) 3 credits.

REL 335a Religions of India: Diversity and Dialogue

Prerequisite, consent of instructor. A study of the historical development of Hinduism and other religions in India; the texts, practices, and worldviews that characterize the various paths to liberation and salvation; and the dynamic interrelationships between followers of Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, and Sikhism in this region. Fee: TBD (Offered interterm.) 3 credits.

REL 336 Buddhism

This course presents a study of the Buddha and the historical and philosophical development of Theravada, Mahayana, and Vajrayana Buddhism, exploring their understanding of the human predicament and the solutions they offer. Students consider ritual and meditative practices, and the interaction between Buddhism and existing traditions in the cultures in which it thrives. (Offered every year.) 3 credits.

REL 340 The Bible as Literature: The Hebrew Scriptures

(Same as ENG 340.) Prerequisite, written inquiry. This course considers the Hebrew Scripture as literature. Key texts of various genres from the Hebrew Scriptures will be examined. Clarification of the parameters of biblical scholarships and interpretation will be established. Literary criticism will be employed to engage the various genres of biblical literature. This course prioritizes clear and creative articulation using writing skills. (Offered fall semester.) 3 credits.

REL 341 The Bible as Literature: The Christian Scriptures

(Same as ENG 341.) Prerequisite, written inquiry. This course considers the Christian Scripture as literature. Key texts of various genres from the Christian Scriptures will be examined. Clarification of the parameters of biblical scholarships and interpretation will be established. Literary criticism will be employed to engage the various genres of biblical literature. This course prioritizes clear and creative articulation using writing skills. (Offered spring semester.) 3 credits.

REL 350 Happiness: Exploring Its Spiritual and Rational Foundations

This course is an interdisciplinary exploration of happiness as an underlying orientation to life, with attention to religious conceptions and spiritual paths to attaining it from the world's religions and contemporary research findings from surveys to neuroscience. (Offered spring semester.) 3 credits.

REL 351 Health, Healing and Wholeness in the World Religions

An interdisciplinary exploration of healing traditions and conceptions of wholeness and health in the major world religions and their role in the practice of global integrative medicine. (Offered every year.) 3 credits.

REL 358 Islam and the West

(Same as PCST 358, POSC 358.)

REL 359 Elie Wiesel: Life and Works

(Same as ENG 359, HIST 359.)

REL 365 Topics in the Holocaust

(Same as HIST 365.)

REL 365a Perpetrators, Witnesses, and Rescuers

(Same as HIST 365a.)

REL 370 Research in Religion

Prerequisite, nine credits in religion, at least three of which are upper-division in the general area of the research topic. Guided individual investigation on a specific topic beyond regular curricular offerings. May be repeated for credit. (Offered as needed.) 1–3 credits.

REL 375 Violence and Nonviolence in Society and Religion

Students examine the religious, philosophic, economic, and biological roots of aggression, violence, and nonviolence among individuals and social groups. The approach is interdisciplinary, and the methods employed range from the study of religious texts through the exploration of cultural tradition. (Offered alternate years.) 3 credits.

REL 380 Law and Religion

This course explores the place and nature of law within a wide range of major religious traditions and cultures around the world, as well as laws about religion, including the First Amendment religion clauses and religious issues in American case law. (Offered as needed.) 3 credits.

REL 398 Junior-Senior Seminar

Prerequisite, junior standing, or major, or minor, or consent of instructor. In the junior or senior year, religious studies majors and minors must enroll at least once in the Junior-Senior Seminar. May be repeated for credit as the theme of the seminar changes. (Offered every year.) 3 credits.

REL 399 Individual Study

(Offered as needed.) 1–6 credits.

REL 408 Religious Fundamentalism, Pluralism, and the Demand for Tolerance

(Same as POSC 408.)

REL 490 Independent Internship

(Offered as needed.) 1–6 credits.

REL 498 Senior Capstone Project

Prerequisite, senior, major, or minor. In the senior year, all religious studies majors must enroll in a Senior Capstone Project, which is to be taken with a faculty member in the department. (Offered every year.) 3 credits.

REL 499 Individual Study

Prerequisites, completion of lower–division requirements and four upper–division courses in religion with a 3.300 GPA. Normally taken in final semester at the university. (Offered as needed.) 1–3 credits.