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Religious Studies and Ethics

The Humanities Department offers a minor in religious studies and ethics. The religious studies and ethics program offers courses in a range of areas, including world religions, ethics and society, theories and methods in the study of religion, scripture and its interpretation, and church history.

For an official description of courses and degree requirements, please reference our academic catalog.

Core Classes:
REL 101 Religion, Culture and Society

This course is designed to explore the complex relationships between religion, culture and society and to introduce students to religion as an academic field of study. Through a study of the diverse religious practices and beliefs throughout the world in their cultural and social contexts as well as an introduction to classic theories in the study of religion, students will explore what religion means to others while beginning to understand what religion means in their own lives. Exploring the customs, rituals and everyday practices of major religions of the world will help students discover the complex ways in which religion impacts the everyday lives of people throughout the world.

Fall Semester.
3 semester hours.
Satisfies Global Diversity requirement.

PHL 102 Introduction to Ethics

Discusses questions about right, virtue and happiness, including the question, “why be moral?” The work of contemporary philosophers will be examined along with the work of great philosophers of the Western tradition, including Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas, Hume, Kant and Mill. The course will also serve as an introduction to various religious approaches to ethics.

Spring semester.
3 semester hours.

Complete at least one:
REL 260 World Religions I: Eastern Traditions

An investigation into the history and beliefs of contemporary Eastern religions and their relationship to the societies in which they have developed. Particular focus upon Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Confucianism, and Shinto.

Fall Semester, even years.
3 semester hours.
Satisfies Global Diversity requirement.

REL 261 World Religions II: Western Traditions

An investigation into the history and beliefs of contemporary Western religions and their relationship to the societies in which they have developed. Particular focus upon Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, and the indigenous traditions of the West.

Spring Semester, odd years.
3 semester hours.
Satisfies Global Diversity requirement.

Complete 5 courses from at least 3 of the following areas:

SCRIPTURE AND ITS INTERPRETATION

REL 210 Introduction to the Old Testament/ Hebrew Bible

A critical introduction to the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible, examining its key theological themes, literary forms, and critical content. Attention will be given to the institutions, religion and national life of the Hebrew people, including the history of Israel from the Exodus to the rise of the Pharisees.

Fall Semester, even years.
3 semester hours.

REL 211 Literature of the New Testament

An introduction to the critical study of the New Testament, including investigation into the historical background and messages of the New Testament books. Students will examine the Synoptic Gospels, Paul’s Epistles, Revelation, and other books of the New Testament. The compilation of writings into what we now consider as the Christian canon will also be explored, asking the questions: what was included; what was excluded; and why?

Spring Semester, odd years.
3 semester hours.

REL 315 Jesus, Politics & Ethics

This course explores the unique political and social circumstances of life in the time of Jesus and how the teachings of Jesus challenged the dominant political powers and social mores. It examines the ethical and theological framework that undergirds these teachings and examines how they are expressed in contemporary Christian ethics.

Fall Semester, odd years.
3 semester hours.
Prerequisites: One 100-200 level course in religious studies, or permission of the instructor.

WGS 415 Women in the Bible

This course is a critical analysis of women figures in biblical texts and contexts, using historical, anthropological, sociological, feminist/womanist, literary, and theological methodologies.

As Announced.
3 semester hours.
Satisfies Global Diversity requirement.
Prerequisites: IDS 112 or permission of instructor.

CHURCH HISTORY

REL 220 History of Christianity

This course explores the journey of Christianity from the earliest Christian communities through the Reformation to Christian life in contemporary times. Turning points of Christian history will be covered, as well as the varied beliefs of early Christians and the spread of the religion beyond the Roman Empire via conquest, conversion and monastic life. The movement of Christianity via missionaries into Asia, Africa, and the Americas will be covered, as well as the expressions of Christianity in today’s global context.

Fall Semester, odd years.
3 semester hours.

RELIGION, ETHICS AND SOCIETY

PHL 360 Biomedical Ethics

A study of the ethical principles, paradigms and values informing decisions in the medical and biological sciences, with a focus on the health care professions. The course format will include numerous actual and hypothetical cases. Topics covered could include physician-assisted suicide, organ transplantation, abortion, cloning and artificial reproduction, termination of life-sustaining medical treatment, and the allocation of medical resources.

Fall Semester, even years.
3 semester hours.
Cross listed with SCI 360.
Prerequisites: PHL 102, an introductory course in the sciences, or permission of the instructor.

REL 306 Religions and Social Order/Disorder

Course explores the role of religion in the development of cultures, society and institutions within those cultures, emphasizing the effect religion and institutions have on socio-cultural relationships.

Spring Semester, odd years.
3 semester hours.
Cross listed with SA 306.
Satisfies Global Diversity requirement.
Prerequisites: IDS 112 with C or higher, six semester hours of 200 level coursework in sociology/anthropology, psychology, gender studies or criminal justice or instructor permission.

REL 330 Gender, Sexuality and Religion

The interaction of religion, gender and sexuality will be explored through a cross-cultural, multi-religious perspective. Religious approaches to the ethics of sexuality and gender will be examined. The complexities of these relations as they are impacted by the politics of race, class, colonialism, and the globalization of religions will also be explored.

Spring Semester, even years.
3 semester hours.
Satisfies Global Diversity requirement.
Cross listed with WGS 330.

WORLD RELIGIONS

REL 260 World Religions I: Eastern Traditions

An investigation into the history and beliefs of contemporary Eastern religions and their relationship to the societies in which they have developed. Particular focus upon Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Confucianism, and Shinto.

Fall Semester, even years.
3 semester hours.
Satisfies Global Diversity requirement.

REL 261 World Religions II: Western Traditions

An investigation into the history and beliefs of contemporary Western religions and their relationship to the societies in which they have developed. Particular focus upon Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, and the indigenous traditions of the West.

Spring Semester, odd years.
3 semester hours.
Satisfies Global Diversity requirement.

REL 265 Earth-Based Religions and Spirituality

An exploration of historical and contemporary expressions of religions and spiritualties based upon a reverence for the earth or nature. Topics covered will include the contemporary earth-based religions. Particular attention will be given to modern expressions of Pagan, Heathen, shamanistic, and Wiccan traditions and will include a review of the philosophies, worldviews, theologies/thealogies, ethical systems, and practices of these religious and spiritual pathways. Pantheistic and syncretic strains in traditional Eastern and Western religions will also be explored.

Fall Semester, odd years.
3 semester hours.
Satisfies Global Diversity requirement.

REL 360 Islamic Tradition

A broad overview of the religion of Islam and Muslims. Includes a study of Islamic beliefs, rituals, sacred texts and sacred places, the history of Islam, its relationship with Christianity and other religions, as well as its modern challenges. The course will focus on the central figure of Muhammad the Prophet as well as later historical developments, such as the split between the two major sects of Islam, i.e., the Sunni and the Shi’a. The course will also explore issues of modern fundamentalism and reform.

Spring Semester.
3 semester hours.
Satisfies Global Diversity requirement.

SPECIALIZED COURSES

REL 290 Special Topics in Religious Studies

Exploration of a special topic in religious studies that falls outside of the roster of regularly offered courses. Topic will be announced in advance.

As announced.
3 semester hours.

REL 470 Independent Study

Independent reading or research on special topics in religious studies and ethics.

As announced.
1-3 semester hours.
Prerequisites: 3.0 overall grade point average, junior or senior status, instructor permission and approval of Academic Performance Committee.

REL 490 Advanced Topics in Religious Studies

Exploration of an advanced topic in religious studies that falls outside of the roster of regularly offered courses. Topic will be announced in advance.

As announced.
3 semester hours.
Prerequisites: Permission of the instructor.

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