This course introduces students to the study of religion in its cultural and historical contexts and aims to familiarize students with the multi-faceted role of religion in the world including examination of social, economic, historical, political, and ethical factors.
This course surveys the religious philosophy, practices and cultural developments of Buddhism from 6th century BCE India to present-day America. In the course of this study we will examine Buddhist ideas about the nature of the self, existence, the basis of knowledge, the nature and path to salvation, psychology, ethics, aesthetics, gender, mind-body theory and non-violence issues.
This course will examine the life and thought of Christianity from its beginnings to the present day. Particular attention will be paid to the development of historical consciousness as well as to the impact that individual's can have on society and on history.
This course introduces students to the critical study of the Hebrew scriptures. We will explore the ideas and practices of ancient Israel in light of the Near Eastern context in which the Bible developed, while also studying the traditions of ancient biblical interpretation that especially shaped Judaism and Christianity. We will carefully and critically read the Bible's narratives, poems, proverbs, and law codes, giving particular attention to its diverse conceptions of justice, love, holiness, gender, nature, power, and God.
In this course students approach the writings of early Christianity as literary and rhetorical responses to ancient social, political, and religious concerns. Students are introduced to the multi-faceted worlds surrounding the emerging Christian communities, as well as some of the realities created by these writings. In so doing, this course equips students with the tools for reading complex and ancient texts from a critical perspective.
Americans often claim to value religious freedom and diversity. But how do we respond when religious minorities take more than one spouse, interact with aliens, or stockpile weapons for the end of the world? This class explores common characteristics and popular depictions of minority religions in contemporary American culture. Students will read the writings and speeches of charismatic leaders, consider religious innovation throughout history, and analyze popular culture portrayals (including films, graphic novels, and fiction) of minority religions in the United States. Offered Spring 2014.
This course will focus on the religious foundations of social justice within the Christian tradition. Emphasis will be placed on employing a structural analysis of social problems that includes the role of religion and religious communities in both perpetrating and healing social injustice.
This course examines a selection of written, oral and performed texts associated with Hindu traditions in their various social, historical and religious contexts. In addition to primary texts drawn from sources such as the Vedas, Upanishads, Puranas, Hindu epics, and the corpus of Hindu devotional poetry, we will analyze ritual, dance, and artistic performance traditions as well as modern oral narratives.
This course explores traditional and contemporary Jewish approaches to ethics. Central topics will include questions regarding love and justice, sin and repentance, respect for the human body, and the relationship between ethics and law. We will examine how understandings of Jewish ethics have been shaped by modernity, giving special attention to American Judaism; and we will consider how classical Jewish sources might speak to a range of contemporary moral and political issues.
Have you ever wondered if religion was an adaptation of the human brain to our environment? Are the origins of religion rooted in evolution of the brain? What are the cognitive foundations of religion? Is there a “God-spot” in the human brain that evolved over time to pre-dispose us to religious experience? If these are the type of questions that intrigue and fascinate you, then this class may be a match for your curiosity. This class is designed to introduce you to the new and emerging field of neurotheology, the exploration between the brain and theology, or perhaps more broadly, the mind and religion. Neurotheology is an examination of cognitive science and the humanities. We will look at how consciousness forms, what is involved in human consciousness, how the brain works, and then how we form beliefs about these thing. If we contemplate the spiritual we do so from within our embodiment in the world. How the body impacts our spiritual quests is at the forefront of contemporary speculation about the role of consciousness, the brain, and religious experience.
In this capstone course, students focus on four areas of inquiry that are of contemporary interest in the field of Religious Studies while also completing a major research project. Prerequisite: REL 292. Required of all majors during senior year.