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Courses

Department of Religious Studies Courses

Course descriptions listed on this page for the Department of Religious Studies are from the 2019-2020 College Catalog. For more information on the courses offered during the fall and spring semesters, please log in to the course schedule through STAR.

RELS 101 —  Intro to the Comparative Study of Religion 

Course count: 1 

Introduction to the nature and place of religion in the human experience as critically understood through the modern disciplines of comparative history, text criticism, and social science. Viewpoints covered include the psychoanalytic, philosophical, biological, artistic, and anthropological. Sources range broadly from the Bible to modern fiction, Lao Tzu to Celtic myths. The course also examines the effects of modern change on religion in global perspective.

GPA units: 1

Common Area: Cross-Cultural Studies, Studies in Religion

Typically Offered: Alternate Years

RELS 102 —  Mary in Christian Theology 

Course count: 1 

Mary, the mother of Jesus, has held great significance for Christians over the centuries. This class will examine the following topics: Mary in the Scriptures, the development of Marian doctrines (the Virgin Birth, the Immaculate Conception, etc.), depictions of Mary in art and film, popular devotions to Mary (the rosary, the scapular, novenas, etc.) and Marian apparitions (especially Lourdes, Fatima, and Guadalupe). Authors and works for the course include the Scriptures, John of Damascus, Thomas Aquinas, John Duns Scotus, Ineffabilis Deus, Munificentissimus Deus, Adrienne von Speyr, John Paul II, Hans Urs von Balthasar and Benedict XVI. This study of Marys significance will help students to understand better the importance of Christian theology and culture throughout history.

GPA units: 1

Common Area: Studies in Religion

Typically Offered: Alternate Years, Spring

RELS 106 —  Buddhism 

Course count: 1 

Survey of the Buddhist tradition, from its origins in ancient India through its evolution as a pan-Asian faith. Topics include the legends of the Buddha, the early monastic community, the emergence of Theravada and Mahayana teachings, Buddhist ethics and social philosophy, meditation traditions, and the later development of distinctive Tibetan, Chinese, and Japanese schools. Utilizes textual and anthropological sources.

GPA units: 1

Common Area: Cross-Cultural Studies, Studies in Religion

Typically Offered: Fall, Spring

RELS 107 —  Islam 

Course count: 1 

Examination of Islamic religious beliefs and practices from the origins of Islam to the present. Particular stress is placed on Islamic religious ideals, institutions and personalities. Central topics include: Islamic scripture and traditions, prophecy, law, rituals, theology and philosophy, sectarianism, mysticism, aesthetic ideals, art and architecture, pedagogy, and modern reinterpretations of the tradition. Also explores wider issues of religious identity by looking at the diversity of the Islamic tradition, tensions between elite and popular culture, and issues of gender and ethnicity.

GPA units: 1

Common Area: Cross-Cultural Studies, Studies in Religion

Typically Offered: Fall, Spring

RELS 114 —  Introduction To Theology 

Course count: 1 

Introduction to major claims in Christian theology through a close examination of historical and contemporary Catholic and Protestanttheologies. Topics include: methods in doing theology and in biblical interpretation; images of God and of Jesus; the human condition; different marks and models of the church; and religious diversity. Readings address the interplay in theological reflection between religious tradition and social location, and analyze the implications and challenges of Christian claims in light of gender, race and poverty. One unit.

GPA units: 1

Common Area: Studies in Religion

RELS 115 —  Angels and Demons 

Course count: 1 

An introduction to the Christian tradition regarding angels and demons, focusing upon how Christians relate angelic beings to their own experience of God. Topics include the place of angels in the Scriptures, the nature of angelic beings, the role of angels and demons in creation, the question of demonic temptation and possession, and the distinctions between angels and humans. Readings will include works by Origen and Athanasius of Alexandria, Evagrius Ponticus, Pseudo-Dionysius, Thomas Aquinas, Mortimer Adler, and C.S. Lewis. Students will also have the opportunity to discuss the theology and practice of the contemporary rite of exorcism in the Church. One unit.

GPA units: 1

Common Area: Studies in Religion

RELS 116 —  Catholicism 

Course count: 1 

Introduction to the academic study of the beliefs and practices of Roman Catholic Christianity, and of the situation of the church in the contemporary United States. Topics include: approaches to the study of Catholicism; creeds and doctrinal foundations of the Church; structure, authority, and community; spirituality, worship, and the sacramental tradition; Catholic moral and social teaching; current issues and controversies in Catholicism.

GPA units: 1

Common Area: Studies in Religion

Typically Offered: Spring

RELS 117 —  History Of Christianity 1 

Course count: 1 

A survey of the origins and development of Christianity, both its theology and its structures, from the apostolic period to the eve of the Reformation. Special attention is paid to the evolution of Christian doctrine and worship during the early and medieval periods of the Christian history. The interplay between orthodoxy and heterodoxy will be stressed in a close examination of heretical movements and their impact on the formation of the tradition. The interaction between Church and society will also be addressed.

GPA units: 1

Common Area: Historical Studies, Studies in Religion

Typically Offered: Fall

RELS 118 —  New Testament 

Course count: 1 

Introduction to early Christian literature and thought in light of the historical, literary, and religious milieu of the Greco-Roman world, including Judaism. Topics discussed include the diverse of representations of Jesus, the emergence of the category "Christian," and the genres of New Testament and other early Christian books. Contemporary approaches are addressed, but the primary focus is the ancient texts themselves. One unit

GPA units: 1

Common Area: Historical Studies, Studies in Religion

RELS 119 —  History Of Christianity 2 

Course count: 1 

A survey of the development of Christianity, both its theology and its structures, from the Reformation period to today. Special attention is paid to the development of the various Protestant traditions, and their doctrine and worship.The interplay between Roman Catholicism and the Protestant churches is discussed. The impact of these Christian traditions on American society is also addressed.

GPA units: 1

Common Area: Historical Studies, Studies in Religion

Typically Offered: Spring

RELS 120 —  Comparative Religions/World View 

Course count: 1 

Systematic exploration of similarities and differences within and among several traditions (Hinduism, Christianity, and Islam) and an examination of several key issues within the academic study of religion.

GPA units: 1

Common Area: Studies in Religion

Typically Offered: Spring

RELS 126 —  Hebrew Bible/Old Testament 

Course count: 1 

Introduction to the texts of the Hebrew Scriptures/Old Testament, the course explores the social and cultural worlds that produced the texts, examines the biblical texts themselves, and investigates the assumptions and methods employed by premodern, modern (post-Enlightenment), and postmodern interpreters of the Bible.

GPA units: 1

Common Area: Studies in Religion

Typically Offered: Fall, Spring

RELS 139 —  Understanding Jesus 

Course count: 1 

An examination of the figure of Jesus as presented in the gospels with attention devoted to historical questions about Jesus' life and teaching, the theological claims about Jesus being made by the gospel writers, and the direct challenge which the gospel story presents to the church and the world today.

GPA units: 1

Common Area: Studies in Religion

Typically Offered: Fall, Spring

RELS 141 —  Contemporary Christian Morality 

Course count: 1 

This course addresses the implications of Christian belief and identity for personal and social morality. Readings examine fundamental ethics of moral agency, human freedom, conscience, sin, suffering and virtue, as well as the method and themes of Catholic social teaching. The final part of the course explores several areas of contemporary ethical concern including the use of violence, human sexuality, healthcare, and the environment.

GPA units: 1

Common Area: Studies in Religion

Typically Offered: Fall

RELS 143 —  Social Ethics 

Course count: 1 

An introduction to moral reasoning and various modes of Christian ethical reflection on contemporary social issues.

GPA units: 1

Common Area: Studies in Religion

Typically Offered: Fall

RELS 147 —  Judaism 

Course count: 1 

Introduction to the history, theology, and practices of the Jews which uses the evidence of Judaism to exemplify the interrelationship between a religious civilization and the historical and cultural framework within which it exists. How does what happens to the Jews affect their formulation of their religion, Judaism? By answering this question and by learning the details of Jewish belief and practice, students will come to com-prehend both Judaism and the social construction of religion in general.

GPA units: 1

Common Area: Studies in Religion

Typically Offered: Annually

RELS 149 —  Judaism in the Time of Jesus 

Course count: 1 

Judaism as we know it took shape in the first six centuries C.E., in the same period that saw the emergence of Christianity. This course describes and interprets early Judaism against its historical backdrop, evaluating the theological beliefs and ritual practices Jews developed and espoused. The main focus is Judaism¿s central theological conceptions, concerning, e.g., life-after-death, the messiah, divine providence, revelation. The larger goal is to comprehend how religious ideologies respond to and make sense of the world in which the adherents of the religion live.

GPA units: 1

Common Area: Studies in Religion

Typically Offered: Alternate Years

RELS 165 —  Ancient and Medieval Hinduism 

Course count: 1 

Introduction to key themes in ancient and medieval Hinduism. Considers the sacrificial worldview of the Vedas and Brahmanas and then moves to discuss the significance of the Upanishads and yoga. Special attention will be given to the two chief Hindu epics: the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. Also examines key elements in Hindu law through a reading of The Laws of Manu. Concludes with a consideration of Hindu devotional theism in the worship Shiva, Krishna, and the goddess Kali.

GPA units: 1

Common Area: Cross-Cultural Studies, Studies in Religion

Typically Offered: Spring

RELS 190 —  History of the Early Church 

Course count: 1 

This course will focus on the first four centuries of the Christian Church, beginning with the earliest followers of Christ described in the New Testament and continuing through the conversion of Constantine in the 4th century. We will examine how the structure of the church develops, as well as its theologies, doctrines and liturgies. We will pay attention to the variety of Christian viewpoints in these early centuries and how Christians debated with each other and with outsiders on their most basic beliefs. We will track various themes throughout this period, such as prophesy, heresy vs. orthodoxy, gender dynamics, martyrdom, asceticism, interaction with non-Christians, the importance of ritual.

GPA units: 1

Common Area: Historical Studies, Studies in Religion

RELS 202 —  Native American Religious Traditions 

Course count: 1 

Examines the ways that Native American religious traditions have been conceptualized, negotiated, and interpreted since the early sixteenth century until today. Topics include: the impact of Christian colonialism, government assimilation policies, the Red Power movement, and religious freedom issues. This course is historical in its outlook and is reading intensive. Previous coursework in religious studies, history, or anthropology is not required.

GPA units: 1

Common Area: Cross-Cultural Studies, Studies in Religion

Typically Offered: Fall

RELS 203 —  Death & Afterlife 

Course count: 1 

In this course we will examine two core concepts of human existence: religious experiences of 1) death, the core human experience of finitude; and 2) afterlife, the core human experience of transcendence. All human beings die, and there are a number of individual, communal and cultural expressions surrounding the inevitable event of death (food offerings, processions, wakes, cremation, burial rites). All human beings die, and there are a number of individual, communal, and cultural explanations of what happens after death (heavens, hells, divinization, reincarnation, annihilation). To understand the shared patterns and distinctive variety of these responses, readings will include selections from primary religious/theological sources as well as reflections in fiction, images, and contemporary real-life experiences. We will focus on the Christian/Catholic tradition, but other religious traditions will be addressed.

GPA units: 1

Common Area: Studies in Religion

Typically Offered: Alternate Years

RELS 204 —  Early Christian Monasticism 

Course count: 1 

A seminar examining the origins of Christian monasticism through close readings of primary sources. Topics include the motives for the Christian flight into the desert, monastic p[racgtices and daily life, the nagture of moanstic prayer, early monastic rules, the influence of monasticism upon theology and culture, and the continuing presence of ancient monastic ideals in modern monasticism. Authors and works include Athanasius of Alexandria, Evagrius Ponticus, the Apophthegmata Patrum, Palladius, John Cassian, and early monastic rules (e.g., Pachomius, Augustine, and Benedict). Students will also examine how ancient monastic traditions continue in modern Christianity by staying overnight in a monastery and meeting with several monastic communities.

GPA units: 1

Common Area: Studies in Religion

Typically Offered: Alternate Years, Spring

RELS 215 —  Defense Against the Dark Arts 

Course count: 1 

With the 1998 publication of The Sorcerer's Stone J. K. Rowling began creating a universe that continues to house the imagination of millions of readers around the globe. Although not a religious work, the series is a portal into a world that is. Both the world of faith and the world of fiction depend on imagination, and the Harry Potter series provides an excellent opportunity to reflect on what makes these worlds alike and what makes them different. The faith-world brings us to questions about ultimate meaning and value; so does the HP series. The faith-world has to do with self-discovery, personal growth and transformation; so does the series. The faith-world works from a sense of enchantment and divine providence; the HP series is predicated on the possibility of magic, although the ultimate source of that magic (and the possibility of dark magic) is left unexplained. The faith-world has to do with moral choices and their consequences, and so does the series. Why does imagination give permission to miracles but dismiss magic as fantasy? How and why are faith and fantasy different? How does the mind distinguish what is "real" from what is not? And how does the mind defend itself against dementors, chaos, and spiritual darkness? Religious imagination is one such defense.

GPA units: 1

Typically Offered: Spring

RELS 216 —  Readings: Asian Sacred Texts 

Course count: 1 

Focuses on critical and analytical readings of sacred writings in translation from the Asian religious traditions: Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Daosim. The genres sampled include law codes, works of ascetic mysticism, religious biography, popular narrative, and scholastic treatises. Also examines the cross-cultural definition of "text," the idea of a "scriptural canon," and the construction of tradition in the western historical imagination.

Prerequisite: One previous course in Asian Religions

GPA units: 1

Common Area: Cross-Cultural Studies, Studies in Religion

Typically Offered: Alternate Years

RELS 217 —  Eucharist/History & Theology 

Course count: 1 

Provides a detailed study of the historical development and theological significance of the Eucharist in Christian tradition. Treats underlying concepts in sacramental theology in terms of Eucharistic ritual. Special attention is paid to the Roman Catholic experience, but other Christian traditions will be discussed.

GPA units: 1

Common Area: Studies in Religion

Typically Offered: Alternate Years

RELS 218 —  Christian Sacraments 

Course count: 1 

Provides a general study of the historical development and theological significance of Christian sacraments. Begins with discussion of key underlying concepts in sacramental theology: the experience of the sacred; sign, symbol, ritual; and Christ/Church as sacrament. Special attention is paid to the Roman Catholic experience, but other Christian traditions are discussed.

GPA units: 1

Common Area: Studies in Religion

Typically Offered: Alternate Years

RELS 219 —  Christian Prayer in Theory and Practice 

Course count: 1 

Considers Christian prayer as both a topic for theological study and a body of disciplines and practices. Topics include basic theological perspectives; historical origins and important figures in the development of Christian spirituality; personal and liturgical prayer; prayer and psychology; prayer and global awareness. Diverse traditions, methods, and practical approaches to Christian prayer will be considered, including Pentecostal prayer, the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius Loyola, Christian meditation and Centering Prayer. Readings draw from both classic sources and contemporary interpretations. Weekly practicum sessions focus on observing and/or participating in various forms of Christian prayer.

GPA units: 1

Common Area: Studies in Religion

Typically Offered: Spring

RELS 221 —  Women In Early Christianity 

Course count: 1 

Exploration of the activity of women in the early church as witnesses to the resurrection of Jesus, missionaries, teachers, ascetics, martyrs, and deacons. Considers the historical and social context of women's lives in the Greco-Roman world in an environment of religious pluralism, women's self-understanding, and the controversy over women's leadership in the developing church. Texts studied include the canonical gospels of Matthew, Luke, and John, the non-canonical Gospel of Mary,as well as Christian texts from the 2nd - 4th centuries.

GPA units: 1

Common Area: Studies in Religion

Typically Offered: Every Third Year

RELS 230 —  Theological Perspectves on Medical Ethics 

Course count: 1 

This course examines important developments in contemporary medical ethics considered in the context of the wider cultural assumptions of western philosophical traditions, the rise of the technological imperative, market capitalism, and globalization. These are brought into conversation with theological commitments to human dignity, the pursuit of virtue, the common good and the option for the poor. Topics to be considered will include healthcare relationships, treatment decisions, beginning and end of life issues, research using human subjects, the just distribution of healthcare resources, reproductive technologies, the HIV/AIDS epidemic, and health and human rights.

GPA units: 1

Common Area: Studies in Religion

Typically Offered: Spring

RELS 234 —  Conflicts in the Church 

Course count: 1 

Examines selected issues which have generated considerable controversy in the contemporary Catholic church (e.g., liturgical change, the Church and politics, women¿s leadership, contraception, clergy sexual abuse, homosexuality, etc.). Topics are considered in relation to differing views on the origin, structure, and purpose of the church itself, and include discussion of structures of authority in the church; differing rhetorical styles and traditions of thought in church history; change and the development of doctrine; church moral and social teaching. Readings draw from official Catholic Church teaching as well as writings of so-called "progressive" and "neoconservative" theologians.

GPA units: 1

Common Area: Studies in Religion

Typically Offered: Fall

RELS 243 —  Theology Of The New Testament 

Course count: 1 

Drawing on contemporary biblical exegesis, this course explores both the major theological questions that the New Testament writers were addressing in their own time and place, and the theological questions those writings force the church of today to raise in light of its present historical and cultural circumstances. What is faith? What is salvation? How does revelation happen? What does the New Testament tell us about the mystery of God? In what way is Christian religious experience the platform for thinking about church? How does the New Testament help us to face major concerns of today, such as Christianity¿s relationship to the other world religions, environmental justice, a shifting moral landscape, and the perennial thirst for the transcendent?

GPA units: 1

Typically Offered: Alternate Years

RELS 255 —  Ecology & Religion 

Course count: 1 

Explores various perspectives on nature articulated in the history of the world¿s religions beginning with hunter-gatherer and tribal peoples. Distinctive doctrines derived from sacred texts and by philosophers/ theologians, as well as the impact of ritual practices, are reviewed to understand the impact of religion on human ecology. After considering the perspective of Enlightenment thought on the natural world, the course surveys early North American exponents of ecological spirituality (Thoreau; Emerson; Muir), the writings of Eco-theologians (Fox; Berry; Schweitzer; McFague), and how cosmologies articulated by modern ecologists (Leopold; Lovelock) and activists (Earth First! And Greenpeace) have sought to define as sacred the human connection with the natural world.

GPA units: 1

Common Area: Cross-Cultural Studies, Studies in Religion

Typically Offered: Alternate Years

RELS 260 —  Comparative Mysticism & Human Ecology 

Course count: 1 

A phenomenological analysis of mystical experience, both theory and practice, and an investigation of the epistemological and ontological status of this experience. Approach is pluralistic considering mysticism from the following perspectives: psychological, religious, anthropological, philosophical and scientific. Examines various conceptions of ultimate reality and a variety of practices constituting the mystic path or way. Mystical experience is broadly conceived as a state of consciousness whose dominant symbols and structures of thought, behavior and expression relate to the ultimate transformation of self and world.

GPA units: 1

Common Area: Cross-Cultural Studies, Studies in Religion

Typically Offered: Fall

RELS 270 —  The Quran 

Course count: 1 

This seminar will give students a window into the religious and spiritual world shaped and filled by the Quran. The topics covered will relate to Islam in general and the Quran in particular, such as language, law, mysticism, theology, art, and comparative religion. This will involve a study of the exegesis of the text, which records the ways in which Muslims have interpreted and taught the Quran through the ages up to our present day.

GPA units: 1

Common Area: Cross-Cultural Studies, Studies in Religion

Typically Offered: Spring

RELS 277 —  Modern Religious Movements 

Course count: 1 

Examines the phenomenon of modern religious movements within the United States. The movements considered are popularly known as cults, and one of our most important objectives will be to examine critically this term and other categories, such as brainwashing. Ranges broadly, from a consideration of contemporary movements such as Scientology, the Branch Davidians, the People's Temple, and UFO Cults, to other groups that have experienced longer histories, such as the Latter Day Saints (the Mormons) and the Watchtower (Jehovah's Witnesses). Special attention is also given to contemporary religious movements within Catholicism. A consideration of modern religious movements is inevitably highly charged. The fundamental purpose of the course is to provide the analytic tools to consider not only modern religious movements themselves but also the discourse surrounding them.

Prerequisite: One previous Religious Studies course.

GPA units: 1

Typically Offered: Spring

RELS 279 —  Religion and Violence 

Course count: 1 

Religion and Violence considers religious justifications of violence. The course begins with an examination of sacrifice through a survey of Aztec culture in relation to the theory of "generative scapegoating" articulated by Rene Girard. The course then moves to discuss religious justifications of warfare as "crusade" and "jihad." The class also reads the Hindu epic "The Mahabharata" and examines its theory of ethical obligation in extreme circumstances. The course then considers terrorism through a comparative discussion of the Provisional Irish Republican Army and Palestinian organizations such as Hamasand Islamic Jihad. A crucial part of this discussion is engaging ethical theories regarding the classification of "non-combatants" as well as considering both critiques and defenses of asymmetrical forms of violence. Substantial attention will be given to analyzing the category "terrorism" and to what extent it has value as a classification for certain kinds of violence. The class concludes with a consideration of violence to the body as reflected in asceticism, torture, and ordeal.

Prerequisite: One previous Religious Studies course or consent of the instructor

GPA units: 1

Common Area: Cross-Cultural Studies

Typically Offered: Alternate Years

RELS 280 —  Liberation Theology 

Course count: 1 

Based on the principle of God's special identification with history's oppressed, liberation theology explores the problems of biblical interpretation, church teaching and Christian commitment in the contemporary world. This course examines the relationship between the socio-political consciousness of marginalized peoples and their Christian faith. Among the topics to be covered will be racism, global poverty, sexism, and environmental degradation. This course has three primary sections: (1) Black Theology; (2) Latin American Liberation Theology; (3) Feminist Theology.

GPA units: 1

Common Area: Studies in Religion

Typically Offered: Annually

RELS 284 —  Sex, Money, Power & the Bible 

Course count: 1 

This course explores the assumptions and portrayals that various biblical texts make about sex, money, and power, as well as the implications of those assumptions and portrayals. Although we will locate these biblical texts in their historical and social contexts, we will also use them to consider broader theoretical questions about reading, gender and sexuality, the economy, and the practice of power.

GPA units: 1

Common Area: Studies in Religion

Typically Offered: Fall

RELS 285 —  Jesuit Spirituality 

Course count: 1 

Examines the distinctive characteristics of Jesuit Spirituality as reflected in the four weeks of the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius of Loyola, his autobiography, and other early Jesuit writings. Examines the religious experience that gave birth to the Society of Jesus, the Society's keen interest in education, and contemporary expressions of the Ignatian vision.

Enrollment limited to 3rd and 4th year students only

GPA units: 1

Common Area: Studies in Religion

RELS 290 —  TeologĂ­a Andina 

Course count: 1 

A study of religion, culture, and theology in the Andean region of Bolivia. The course examines the way in which Christian faith has been appropriated by the Aymara and Quechua people, and it introduces students to a worldview that is both distinctive and challenging in its focus on the earth (the Pachamama) and community life. The course also studies the history of cultural and social oppression that paved the way for contemporary efforts in the region at religious and political self-expression. Taught in Spanish; requires the ability to read, speak, and write in Spanish.

GPA units: 1

Common Area: Cross-Cultural Studies, Studies in Religion

Typically Offered: Alternate Years, Fall

RELS 292 —  Medieval Christianity 

Course count: 1 

This seminar provides an in-depth study of the origins and development of medieval Christianity in Western Europe. It covers theology and structural evolution from the fall of the Roman Empire to the eve of the Reformation. Special attention is paid to the evolution of Christian doctrine, spirituality, architecture and worship during the "high" and "late" Middle Ages, the interplay between orthodoxy and heterodoxy, their impact on the formation of the tradition, and the interaction between church and society.

GPA units: 1

Common Area: Studies in Religion

Typically Offered: Alternate Years

RELS 294 —  Sexual Justice:Social Ethics 

Course count: 1 

This course explores the ethical significance of human sexuality within the context of Christian theology and in relation to larger issues of social, political, and economic well-being. One unit.

Prerequisite: One previous Religious Studies course.

GPA units: 1

RELS 295 —  Un tal Jesus 

Course count: 1 

This seminar is a biblical and theological study of the four gospels focused on the life and mission of Jesus of Nazareth. The course follows a theological line called theology of liberation. This theological line draws attention to the humanness of Jesus and the dimension of justice in his preaching about the reign of God. The main work we study is Un tal Jesus: La Buena Noticia contada al pueblo de America Latina. The seminar introduces students to a theology that arises from daily experience, the connection between faith and culture, and the enduring legacy of Latin American liberation theology. In Spanish.

GPA units: 1

Common Area: Studies in Religion

Typically Offered: Alternate Years

RELS 300 —  Ethics of Work & Family 

Course count: 1 

Explores work and family as ethical themes in the Christian tradition. The course will consider the meanings and goals of work and family each in its own right and will also cover contemporary dilemmas at the intersection of work and family. Theological frameworks of virtue, vocation, feminist ethics, and social ethics will figure prominently in the course. Readings will draw on material from the documentary heritage of Catholic social teaching as well as contributions from theologians representing different Christian denominations, other religious traditions, and secular thinkers.

Prerequisite: One previous Religion Studies course.

GPA units: 1

Typically Offered: Alternate Years

RELS 303 —  Theology & Science Fiction 

Course count: 1 

This seminar will examine Christian theological themes through the literary genre of science fiction/speculative fiction. Readings from the genre of fantasy may also be studied. Theological themes addressed may include: the nature of religion; the concept of God/the divine; the quality of humanity in other species; the problem of evil and suffering; the question of sin and salvation; the nature of faith and belief; the role of myth and symbol; doctrine as redemptive or demonic; heaven, hell and the afterlife; the believer as scientist/explorer.

Prerequisite: One previous courses in RELS or permission of the instructor

GPA units: 1

Common Area: Studies in Religion

Typically Offered: Alternate Years, Spring

RELS 311 —  Zen Buddhism 

Course count: 1 

Examination of Zen Buddhism and its influences on East Asian civilizations. Surveys the texts and monastic practices that define Zen spiritual cultivation and the history of the Soto and Rinzai schools¿ evolution. Special attention is also devoted to the distinctive poetic (haiku), fine arts (painting, gardening, tea ceremony)) and martial arts (swordsmanship) disciplines that this tradition has inspired in China and Japan.

GPA units: 1

Common Area: Cross-Cultural Studies, Studies in Religion

Typically Offered: Spring

RELS 312 —  Theravada Buddhism 

Course count: 1 

Seminar examining the prominent texts, doctrines and practices of the Theravada Buddhist tradition. Surveys the historical development of the tradition in India, with attention to major schools of interpretation and practice. Theravada social philosophy and ethics are studied, as are the patterns of accommodation with non-Buddhist religions. The second half of the course focuses upon the distinctive practices of Burma, Sri Lanka, and Thailand as well as reformist modern movements.

Prerequisite: RELS 206 or permission of instructor.

GPA units: 1

Common Area: Cross-Cultural Studies, Studies in Religion

Typically Offered: Alternate Years

RELS 313 —  HIV/AIDS and Ethics 

Course count: 1 

Explores the many ethical questions brought into relief by the HIV/AIDS pandemic, arguably one of the most pressing global public health issues of our time. Focusing primarily on issues of social justice, the course mines the traditions of Christian ethics and Catholic social teaching for resources with which to address topics including HIV prevention, treatment, research, access, and global public health. We will become familiar with key ethical methods and concepts, including casuistry, the common good, solidarity, and the option for the poor.

Prerequisite: One previous course in Religious Studies

GPA units: 1

Typically Offered: Alternate Years

RELS 315 —  Islamic Philosophy & Theology 

Course count: 1 

Introduction to the major issues, figures, and texts of Islamic philosophy and theology. Attempts to answer the question of what Islamic philosophy and theology are and how they figure in Islamic tradition. While dealing with such towering figures as Kindi, Farabi, Ibn Sina, Ghazali, Ibn Rushd, Ibn Hazm, Ibn Tufayl, Ibn Bajjah, Suhrawardi, the school of Ibn al-Arabi, Nasir al-Din Tusi, and Mulla Sadra, also discusses central issues and concepts of Islamic philosophy, including existence and essence, God's existence and knowledge of the world, knowledge and its foundations, cosmology, causality and its role in sciences of nature and political thought. Kalam or Islamic theology is the focus of the second part of the course. Examines classical debates around such issues as God's names and qualities, free will and determinism, reason and revelation, ethics, and political philosophy.

Prerequisite: One previous Religious Studies or Philosophy course.

GPA units: 1

Common Area: Cross-Cultural Studies

Typically Offered: Alternate Years

RELS 327 —  Holocaust: Confronting Evil 

Course count: 1 

Seeks to interpret an event that defies representation and lacks discernible logic or meaning. By evaluating how others have depicted, attempted to create meaningful narratives about, and drawn conclusions from the Holocaust, we hope ourselves to reach some understanding of this event, of its significance for modern society, and of its potential for helping us to recognize our own responsibilities in a world in which ultimate evil is possible.

Prerequisite: One previous Religious Studies course.

GPA units: 1

Common Area: Studies in Religion

Typically Offered: Annually

RELS 333 —  Comparative Theology 

Course count: 1 

An exploration of the meaning and significance of Christianity's encounter with the Hindu, Buddhist, Islamic, and other religious traditions, both new and old. Investigates major theological questions emerging from the dialogue between Christianity and other world religions.

GPA units: 1

Common Area: Studies in Religion

Typically Offered: Alternate Years

RELS 340 —  Gardens & World Religions 

Course count: 1 

A survey of the historical and cultural backgrounds of the major garden traditions of the world associated with religions. This course moves from considerations of human aesthetic and spiritual experience in the natural world to a survey of the major garden traditions associated with the western Mediterranean and Europe: in classical Greece and Rome, Christianity, and Islam. The course then moves to East Asia and classical traditions of China and Japan. Special focus will be given to elements of the campus Japanese Garden Initiative: teahouse gardens and monastic viewing gardens. Field trips to regional gardens will be made. For the final project, students design small virtual contemplative gardens for possible construction at specific campus sites.

Prerequisite: One previous course in Religion, Asian Studies or Middle East Studies

GPA units: 1

Common Area: Cross-Cultural Studies, Studies in Religion

Typically Offered: Alternate Years

RELS 355 —  Purity and Filth 

Course count: 1 

The concepts of purity and pollution influence the ways in which human beings interact in the world, from the micro level (germs/viruses) to the macro level (God/the divine). This seminar will examine the notion of purity from the perspective of ritual studies, and will explore the ways this notion affects human behavior and culture. Case studies, primary sources, and short stories will all be included in the readings assigned. Among the possible topics: the body and its margins; food and meals; cleanliness and sanitation; the sacred and the profane; holiness and sin; sex and gender; birth and death; illness and health; obsession and compulsion; environment and ecology.

Prerequisite: One previous Religious Studies course.

GPA units: 1

Common Area: Studies in Religion

Typically Offered: Alternate Years, Spring

RELS 357 —  Modern Catholic Theology 

Course count: 1 

Examines selected theological questions addressed by modern Catholic theologians such as Rahner, Schillebeeckx, Dulles, Tracy, Gutierrez, and Ruether. Several major works are read and discussed in detail.

Prerequisite: One previous Religious Studies course.

GPA units: 1

Common Area: Studies in Religion

Typically Offered: Alternate Years

RELS 411 —  Tutorial 

Course count: 1 

GPA units: 1