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2023 Fall

Program in Religion

Fall Schedule 2023

(May be subject to change)

REL 110 Nature of Religion

This introductory course considers what is distinctively religious about religions. Using a combination of in-depth case study and cross-cultural comparison, it introduces the student to recurrent themes, forms and structures of religion, considering such topics as: the nature of myth and ritual; sacred time and sacred space; gods, spirits and ancestors; as well as the roles of shaman, prophet, and priest.

01 - MW 7-8:15 PM, Penizzotto W205

02 - TuF 10-11:15 AM, Grass W206

02 - MTh 2:30-3:45PM, Kramer W205

REL 111 Approaches to Religion

A modern critical study of religion using a variety of methods to further understanding of the role of religion in personal and social life. Approaches include those of philosophy, psychology, the arts, history, sociology, and anthropology. Readings are from a variety of differing religious traditions.

01 - MW 4-5:15 PM, Burby, W206

02 - TuF 1-215PM, Grass, W206 

03- MTh 11:30-12:45PM, Kramer W205 

04 - TuF 8:30-9:45 AM, Fleming W205

REL 208 Religion and Social Justice

The question of social justice is at the heart of many public debates of our time, and religions make important contributions to assumptions, questions and policy discussions. Each religion has a variety of resources with which to address issues of socially just societies, and people within the same and across the religions have different views. This course explores religious resources and views about justice in the areas of ecology, race, sex and gender, economics and war and peace. While the focus will be on the major religions in the U.S., other traditions are included and welcome in discussion.

01 - MTh 8:30-9:45 AM, Kellogg

REL 209 Religion and Human Rights

Religion and human rights intersect in a variety of ways. The struggle for religious tolerance played a key role in the evolution of the human rights. Yet the quest for freedom of thought, conscience and belief remains unresolved in various parts of the world. It has been contended that religious beliefs about natural and moral order are the foundation of human rights. And as the movement for universal human rights swept the globe in the later part of the 20th century, scholars and religious thinkers have examined the contributions, compatibilities (and incompatibilities) of the worlds' major systems of thought, conscience and belief to the norms and standards of the human rights project. This course will examine these various intersections between religion and human rights.

01 - TuTh 5:30-6:45 PM, Bruinius W206 

REL 211 The Sacred Sky: Astrology

Different cultures have varied beliefs about the sacred nature of the sky and how astronomical movement relates to lives and events on Earth. Viewing astrology as the vernacular used to describe the effect of astronomical cycles on terrestrial cycles, this course examines how those patterns were interpreted and understood to have meaning. The emphasis of the course is on Western astrology, from its origins in Mesopotamia to its current popularity, but also includes a look at Chinese, Native American, Mesoamerican, and Vedic astrology.

 01 - MW 5:30-6:45 PM, Raver W205

REL 251 Asian Religions

Religions proclaim attitudes towards each aspect of reality--personal, social, universal and absolute--and then use these attitudes to build structures of value and meaning which ultimately form the basis of the adherents' general outlook on life. In this course we are going to be studying the fundamental texts of Eastern Religions--Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, and Taoism--examining the basic attitudes of each faith and considering their implications for the lives of their followers. Although each of these religions is unique, certain common themes run through them and we will explore these as they concern ideas of "God", man, nature, society, and time. In doing this, we shall also be investigating the nature of religion itself, seeing what it is, how it develops and functions and what it means to various people.

01 - TuTh 5:30-6:45 PM, Matsubara W205

REL 253 Abrahamic Religions

Introduction to fundamental religious ideas in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, focusing on the essential sacred texts in the Bible and the Qur'an. Attention is given to the influence of dualistic thought from Zoroastrianism and Gnostic systems, and to some mystical and contemporary interpretations.

01 - MTh 10-11:15 AM, Kellogg


REL 270 Religion and Psychology

"Every statement about God is a statement about the human person, and every statement about the human is a statement about God." This course will examine the complementarity between religion and psychology in many aspects of the human person through the media of selected text, film, and story.

01 - MTh 10-11:15 AM, Wise W205

REL 308 Religion and the Arts

The arts have always been a medium for transforming spiritual beliefs, from prehistoric figurines to William Blake’s mystical paintings. Even in today’s society, the arts serve as a vehicle for religious expression, reflecting not only the individual’s experience with the sacred but society’s view of what art constitutes and how religion should be depicted. But how did we get to this point? We shall examine the relationship between religion and sculpture, painting, dance, theater, decorative arts, music and, finally, photography and film from a chronological and cross-cultural perspective.

M,W 4:00 PM-5:15 PM, Penizzotto W205

REL 309 Religious Meaning of Sex and Love

Sex remains one of the great powers in human life to which religion has not been indifferent. This cross-cultural and interdisciplinary course asks about the relation between the religious and the erotic, inquiring into such issues as: what lies behind speaking of the gods as sexual and/or loving; what lies behind speaking of faith as a matter of 'loving' God; what rationales underlie the various religious codes of sexual ethics? In short, what are the connections among the love of God, the love for God, and sexual love between human beings--in both historical and contemporary religion?

01 - TuF 11:30-12:45 PM, Grass W206

02 - MW 7-8:15 PM, Walker W206

REL 313 Ecospirituality, Religion and Nature

An exploration of world religions’ most foundational ideas about spirit, sentience and the natural world—human and non-human—investigating how they shape our self-understandings, our ethics and even our scientific inquiries. Consideration of some of the most recent scientific findings concerning consciousness in plants and animals, their implications for new understandings of ‘spirit and nature’ and their effect on our whole way of being in the world.

01 - MTh 1-2:15PM, Kramer W205 

REL 321 Buddhism

Study of Buddhism, its development, literature, and religious practices. We will begin with the life story of the Buddha and explore his teachings as they developed from their beginnings in Theravada and expanded as Mahayana, Vajrayana, Zen, and various other contemporary expressions.

01 TuF 10-11:15, Fleming W205

REL 322 Islam

An introduction to the major concepts, practices, and texts of Islam, as well as an examination of the life and faith of the prophet Mohammed. A study of Islam's origin in its own sociocultural framework, its ideologies, ethos, and ethics, as well as its adaptive changes and reinterpretations in the course of history, including its status in the modern world as one of the most populous and wide-spread religions.

MTh 11:30-12:45 PM, Mokh W206


REL 330 New Testament

A scholarly consideration of the religion of the New Testament and earliest Christianity. Examination of the theological interest of the authors of the books of the New Testament in order to consider the major facets of New Testament religion: the mystery of Jesus Christ, Paul's mission and message, ethics, the relation to the Law of Judaism, salvation theology, and apocalyptic thinking. Reading in the New Testament and secondary sources.

01 - TuF 1-2:15 PM, Raver W205

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