RELG - Religious Studies


Effective 1 June 2022 through 31 May 2023

Please see the Undergraduate Catalog Archives for PDF versions of past catalogs.

Course Descriptions

Global Citizenship Program
Knowledge Areas
ARTS Arts Appreciation
GLBL Global Understanding
PNW Physical & Natural World
QL Quantitative Literacy
ROC Roots of Cultures
SSHB Social Systems & Human Behavior
Global Citizenship Program
Skill Areas
CRI Critical Thinking
ETH Ethical Reasoning
INTC Intercultural Competence
OCOM Oral Communication
WCOM Written Communication
** Course fulfills two skill areas


RELG 1041 Religion and Globalization (3)

In this course we will explore the changing role and nature of religions in the context of globalization. We will study different aspects of what constitutes globalization and how these have impacted religions. Examples are the spread of and increased access to liberal values, the rise of the nation state, changes in subjectivity/identity, colonialism and science. We will end the course with making a prognosis on the future development of religions in the globalized world. The course will be based on reading recent scholarship on these issues, our analysis of specific cases, and various individual and group activities through WorldClassRoom.

RELG 1050 Experience and Values (3)

Provides frameworks for examining, understanding, and clarifying personal experience and values, including the students' own experience and values, to introduce the connections between religious teachings and personal living and decision making. May be repeated for credit if content differs.

RELG 1051 Spiritual Paths and Journeys (3)

This course raises some of the largest and most perplexing questions human beings are capable of asking themselves about the meaning and purpose of existence. Perhaps one of the dilemmas we must each face is that we are capable of raising questions for which we cannot seem to find definitive answers. But this course understands that the word "answer" doesn't simply refer to a set of beliefs about the world but instead also refers to a response to the world's condition. This personal search for meaning and patterns of direction in our life is sometimes called "spirituality" and comes equipped with a multitude of definitions. We will explore various responses which have been offered by significant religious traditions, as well as raise the larger question as to whether the word "spirituality" needs to be separated entirely from the world of religious language. This course will help do some self-exploration, clear thinking about your own assessments of "answers" previously offered, and explore issues which may not find neat and tidy answers, you are invited to do so in a focused manner.

RELG 1060 World Religions (3)

Concerns origins, historical development of worship, ethics, theology, scriptures, and institutions of the world religions: Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, Shintoism, Judaism, Christianity and Islam. GCP Coding: (GLBL) (WCOM).

RELG 1080 Thinking Through Religions (3)

This course introduces students to separating plausible and implausible claims to truth in different religion. Students will evaluate the validity of religious truth claims, religious language, religious authorities, spiritual experience, conflicting claims in science and religion, and ethical judgments. GCP Coding: (ROC) (ETH).

RELG 2030 Contemporary Topics (3)

Involves inquiry into current religious developments, such as liberation theology, black theology, women's theology, contemporary religious thinkers and Native American religious thought. May be repeated for credit if content differs.

RELG 2031 Violence in the Name of God (3)

This course examines the association of violence with religion. Although it focuses almost exclusively on contemporary events, the historical antecedents for the use of violence to promote religion or the use of religion to justify violence come from the first historical records. 

This course will not examine those antecedents but will provide analytical value for students who examine human history or look to explanations of contemporary human behavior. 

The course looks at seven specific case studies of religious violence which are meant to be representative of the categories and types of violence associated with religion. The eighth case (and the eighth week) will be provided by student projects which are meant to be shared with the entire class. The course provides the maximum amount of substantive information so that students might make data driven comparisons to contemporary and historical incidents of religious violence. GCP Coding: (SSHB) (CRI).

RELG 2032 Global Christianities (3)

Global Christianities will familiarize students with anthropological scholarship on Christianized peoples throughout the world, not merely in the United States, but also in Africa, Latin America, Melanesia and Eurasia. Through the course, students will be introduced to new ways of looking at Christianity and how it is practiced in a wide range of cultural contexts.

RELG 2050 Religion and Human Values (3)

Investigates the theories and processes of moral decision making. Analyzes specific issues such as war and peace, nonviolence, sexuality, race, medical experimentation, and poverty in relation to such values as freedom, justice and equality in an organized society. May be repeated for credit if content differs.

RELG 2055 Intersections Between Religions and Ecojustice (3)

The course will consider different religious and philosophical perspectives on ecojustice, defined as the right relationship of humans with one another and with nature; it will help students understand the place and responsibility of institutions/systems and human beings in relation to this issue. The course will show how Religions source of cultures and contributes to our understanding of human nature, and how religious teaching and holy books (along with literature, art, music and philosophy) have given us the concept of human values and have thus influenced human societies. GCP Coding: (ROC) (ETH).

RELG 2056 Religion in the Workplace (3)

According to the UN Global Compact and the UN Alliance of Civilizations, religion in the workplace is becoming an increasingly important issue for companies. This is driven by demographics, an increased role in religion in public life and the globalization of operations. This course explores contemporary issues and global perspectives regarding religion in the workplace: religious diversity (including the non-religious) in organizational cultures; employee rights, discrimination and legal remedies; differences between religion and spirituality in the workplace; globalization and interreligious encounters; and special issues in the 21st century workplace and civil society. GCP Coding: (SSHB) (ETH).

RELG 2070 Introduction to Eastern Religions (3)

Provides a basic framework for approaching the major religious and philosophical traditions of Asia. The student is exposed to the ideas, rituals and practices of Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Confucianism, Taoism and Shintoism. By studying the religious issues of India, China and Japan, one gleans an awareness and appreciation of the historical and cultural heritage of Asia. GCP Coding: (ROC) (INTC).

RELG 2075 Introduction to Buddhism (3)

Covers comprehensively the full range of historical, doctrinal, practical, and cultural forms of Buddhism, and its geographic spread around the globe. Includes consideration of the lives and teachings of the Buddha, major scriptures and forms of practice and devotionalism, and Theravada, Mahayana, Vajrayana, syncretic and Western Buddhisms. GCP Coding: (ROC) (ETH).

RELG 2080 Introduction to Western Religions (3)

Provides a basic framework for approaching the major religious and philosophical traditions of the West, meaning those derived from the Mediterranean and Arabic worlds. The student is introduced to the ideas, rituals, and practices of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, with reference also to Greek and Roman religions, Zoroastrianism, and related religions. By studying the religious issues of the Near East, the Middle East and Europe, one gleans an awareness and appreciation of the historical and cultural heritage of the Americas and the West. GCP Coding: (ROC) (ETH).

RELG 2085 Introduction to Judaism (3)

This course offers a general introduction to Judaism, focusing on questions of Jewish identity and culture or cultures, especially in the contemporary United States: What makes someone Jewish? Are there beliefs, practices, or sacred narratives which all Jews have in common? How (if ever) do people become Jewish, and how (if ever) do they stop being Jewish? Why do most American Jews accept Jewish Buddhists but reject Jewish Christians? And what does it mean when someone claims to be “culturally Jewish?” Viewed through the lens of Jewish identity, students will learn about topics ranging from Jewish ritual and liturgy to the role of women in Jewish life to the stereotypes of Jews in Western art and literature. The course will also address ways in which Jewish identity has influenced and has been influenced by other world religious traditions. GCP Coding: (ROC) (INTC).

RELG 2090 Introduction to Religions of Small Scale Societies (3)

This course will review the wide variety of belief systems found in traditional tribal societies. Throughout most of human history, people have lived in small-scale societies which have followed religious practices commonly integrated into their ecosystems. Horticulturalists, pastoralists and hunter-gatherers have been commonly dependent upon their relations with other animals and the food sources available in the ecological niche in which they live. The belief systems of these peoples have provided fertile ground for the development of the major religions found in the world today.

RELG 2100 Religion and Literature (3)

Studies the important interrelationships of literary forms and the world's religions. Examines religious reflection on various complexities of existence as depicted in selected genres or examples of literature. Typically considers literary themes in religious terms, or vice versa, and the ways in which creative writings and religious ideas amplify and interrogate each other. May be repeated for credit if content differs. GCP Coding: (ARTS) (INTC).

RELG 2101 Science Fiction and Religion (3)

Explores significant relationships between science fiction and the world's religions. Examines how science fiction uses religious themes to develop plot, character and action, and how understanding religious themes can illuminate and amplify the message and values of science fiction. GCP Coding: (ARTS) (INTC).

RELG 2150 Existence and Meaning (3)

Introduces key religious perspectives on human life and thought through a sustained analysis of religious ideas, thinkers, or cultural forms. Examines defining conditions of human existence and our roles as meaning-makers and interpreters of inherited meanings, especially those of religious teachings. May be repeated for credit if content differs.

RELG 2200 Religion and History (3)

Surveys the social, political, philosophical, and cultural events of a keystone period in the history of Western civilization. May be repeated for credit if content differs. Sometimes cross-listed with HIST 2210.

RELG 2201 Islam and the State (3)

This course examines the intersection of Islam, politics, and government. Believers in Islam view their faith as a comprehensive guide to life - but should this include politics and government? If so, how should Islam be applied to the State, the modern structure of governance? Is Islam compatible with democracy? With capitalism? With socialism? With national identities and material power? In this course, we study various theoretical interpretations of these issues and gain exposure to the diversity of thought on how Islam should be applied to the State. We also look at the history of Islamic governance - in particular, the institution of the Caliphate. Finally, we conduct four case studies of contemporary Islamic governments and see how well theory is put into practice: Saudi Arabia, Iran, Taliban Afghanistan and the new "Islamic State" founded by the al-Qaeda offshoot ISIS, or !SIL in parts of Iraq and Syria. We will also ponder the role of sectarianism in the politics and governance of the Muslim world today. Students have an opportunity to research other cases of contemporary Islamic governance via the mandatory research paper.

RELG 2350 Sacred Texts (3)

Explores the foundational texts, scriptures or classics of one or more religious traditions with particular attention to literary, historical and critical issues and how these texts have remained sacred or normative within their tradition. May be repeated for credit if content differs.

RELG 2400 Religion and the Arts (3)

Studies the important interrelationships of the arts and world religions. The use of the visual and allied arts for communication and edification has been a primary concern both positive -- e.g. the glorification of Rome during the counter-reformation -- and negative -- e.g. the Islamic proscription of images -- for all religions. May be repeated for credit if content differs. GCP Coding: (ARTS) (INTC).

RELG 2401 Religion and Media Culture (3)

How have changes in the way we create communicate knowledge transformed how we practice religion, see religion, and even are religious ourselves? For instance, how does the possibility to reach virtually anyone anywhere through internet or television changed the way Christian churches do mission? And how, on the other hand, have our religious traditions played a role in shaping the new media of the modern period? For instance, how has the Judeo-Christian notion of the soul as distinct from the body influenced the way we contact each other from afar through machines? How have Western beliefs about the possibility of contact with the dead influenced the creation of the telephone? In this course we will explore these questions and others, namely the role of various media in religious practices, experience, beliefs and identities, and vice versa. Using cross-cultural media sources we will analyze this interaction in written media (books and newspapers); radio; television; and films; and finally in digital media based on written, audio and audiovisual sources.

RELG 2405 Religion and Film (3)

This course will look at different themes in religious studies which are articulated by feature films and documentaries. The content will vary, but sample topics could include: Hollywood and Catholics, film and the clergy, film and Eastern religion, film and religious conflict. May be repeated for credit if content differs.

RELG 2410 Religion and Science (3)

This course will investigate and explore the various relationships between religion and science theories. Note this is a thematic course. Themes may include: conflict in religion and science; confluence of religion and science; difference between scientific claims and religious beliefs. May be repeated for credit if content differs.

RELG 2411 Religion and Scientific Theory (3)

The development of scientific thought and the origin of scientific theory have been tightly woven with the refinement and change of theology and religious belief. It is impossible to deal with one without reference to the other. This course will look at how scientific thought and theory has changed and how that has influenced religion. Themes will include the universe, the planet earth, evolution, quantum physics and several other areas of scientific theory.

RELG 2420 Religion and Culture (3)

Studies selected areas in which religious institutions and beliefs are influenced by their cultural environment and cultures are influenced and molded by religious ideas. May be repeated for credit if content differs.

RELG 2430 Environments and Religion (3)

Brings to reflection the inherent relationships between specific geographic locations, environmental issues, religion, and the world's religions. May include considerations of sacred space, spiritual relationships with the earth, doctrinal views of eco-responsibility, environmentalism and forms of eco-activism. May be repeated for credit if content differs.

RELG 2431 Ecology and Spirituality (3)

This course provides frameworks for examining, understanding and clarifying personal experience and values, including the students' own experience and values, to introduce the connections between religious teachings and personal living and decision making.

RELG 2440 Religion and Social Action (3)

Examines key instances and ideas in which religion or religiously inspired groups or movements have sought to influence or change a particular society or social behavior. May include consideration of appropriate and effective methods for achieving social change. Examples include (but are not limited to) Engaged Buddhism, Liberation Theology, the civil rights movement, utopian religious groups and peace activism. May be repeated for credit if content differs.

RELG 2450 Death and Dying (3)

Examines variation in the definition of life and death and deals with the processes that facilitate and accompany the transition from life to death. Provides multiple cross-cultural and religious perspectives.

RELG 2500 Gender, Culture, and Religion (3)

Discusses diverse representations of gender in selected religious traditions and cultural contexts. Considers their influence on religious conceptions of personhood and divinity, relationships between humans, cosmic and natural orders and representations of the divine. Cultural and social definitions of gender roles, and resistances to those definitions, may also be included. May be repeated for credit if content differs.

RELG 2501 Gender, Belief Systems, and Globalization (3)

What is happening to women's and men's experiences of spirituality in this complex world of transnationalism, migration and religious syncretism? And how do gender expectations shape those experiences? What impact do religion-based social movements have on women as well as men? And how are religions creatively responding to the many serious issues we face as a global community? These are the sort of questions we will pursue in this course. GCP Coding: (SSHB) (WCOM).

RELG 2610 Reading Course: Introductory (1-6)

Content and methodology are at an introductory level. May be repeated for credit if content differs. Prerequisites: Permission of the instructor and filing of official departmental form.

RELG 3030 Topics in Religion and Society (3)

Examines religious belief, ritual and organization through the study of social structure and cultural values. May be repeated for credit if content differs.

RELG 3050 Topics in Religion and Philosophy (3)

Studies philosophical reflections on religion, including analysis of claims and concepts used to support or challenge religious beliefs. May focus on philosophers, such as Camus, Dewey, Nietzsche, Otto or Whitehead, or on topics, using arguments from classical, European, American and Asian sources. May be repeated for credit if content differs.

RELG 3051 Religion and Human Rights (3)

Advanced study of the philosophic and political background of the concept of human rights and the relationship of human rights to religion. Examines important issues in current religious debates about human rights. Reviews the work of the most important governmental and nongovernmental institutions currently involved in human rights protection and promotion.  Examines several current problem areas in human rights and religion.

RELG 3070 Topics in Religion and Psychology (3)

Investigates religious beliefs and behavior and the influence of religion on the life of the individual. May be repeated for credit if content differs.

RELG 3090 Traditions (3)

Presents the historical background and developments, the cultural contexts and distinctive features of a selected religious tradition, including its ideals, rituals, practices, major historical figures, symbolic representations and influences in the lives of adherents. The specific emphasis is announced each time the course is offered. May be repeated for credit if content differs. 

RELG 3211 African Christianities (3)

This course will focus on the introduction, spread and practice of Christianity in Africa. Many times when we talk about Christianity in Africa, there is a tendency to portray it as a product of colonialism. In this course we discuss Christianity as an African religion. We examine the religious innovations that have shaped what can be aptly called African Christianity. From its initial introduction in the 2nd century and its adoption as the Ethiopian State Religion in the 4th century AD to today, Christianity in Africa has proved to be a potent force for change, conflict and a source of empowerment for many. This course will help you make sense of these developments.

RELG 3600 Field Experience in Religion (1-6)

For students undertaking travel and research into a specific religious topic through direct contact with the material or people studied, outside academic confines. Requires prior and follow-up consultation with a faculty member approved by the department chair, and preparation of a portfolio. Application for approval includes a description of the intended field experience and projected itinerary. Final product must include documentation of the travel and experiences and a summary of and formal reflection on those experiences. May be repeated for credit if content varies.

RELG 3605 International Field Experience in Religion (1-6)

See description of RELG 3600 above for requirements. Intended for students undertaking travel and research into a specific religious topic, outside the student's home campus. Highly recommended for religious studies majors and minors, especially juniors, to enhance an understanding of religion in global contexts. May be repeated for credit if content varies.

RELG 4400 Spiritual Paths and Classics (3)

Focuses on classics in spiritual practice and development chosen from specific religious traditions, so as to reflect on the paths and teachings they set forth. Builds on introductory courses in spiritual exploration and in world religions. Topics may include: Chinese mysticism (especially Taoism), Islamic Sufism, the English Christian mystics, Zen and other Buddhist schools, utopian religious communities or Hindu yoga(s). May be repeated for credit if content differs.

RELG 4550 Advanced Study in Religion (3)

An open-topic seminar course, examining in detail aspects of a religious tradition or traditions introduced in prior courses. May be repeated for credit if content differs.

RELG 4551 Religion and Global Issues (3)

This course will allow students to look at some issues of global importance. Research topics include among other things:

  • Veiling in France
  • Religious justification of violence
  • The internet and religion

This course will center on the writing of a seminar paper on such a topic. Students will be guided through the process, and will help one another with papers as they develop. Students will also study and practice writing longer papers, following APA style, avoiding pitfalls in writing and providing and receiving helpful feedback.

RELG 4560 Practicum (3-5)

Supervised internship in direct practica with individuals and groups. Placement may include teaching, pastoral work, or social activism. Prerequisites: 9 credit hours of religious studies and permission of the department chair.

RELG 4610 Reading Course: Advanced (1-6)

May be repeated for credit if content differs. Prerequisites: Approval of the instructor and filing of official departmental form. 

RELG 4700 Senior Project (3-6)

Involves preparation and presentation of a major project to serve as senior overview. Prerequisites: Senior standing and permission of the department chair.

RELG 4800 Portfolio Review (0-1)

A portfolio of student work in Religious Studies to be turned in during the final semester of study in the Department. Required of all Religious Studies/Religion and Global Society majors. This course may be taken for credit, or no credit.