Religious Studies Course Offerings

FALL 2022 COURSE LISTINGS

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***Please check MYUI for the most current information and full descriptions***

Hannah HaackUndergraduate Reflections on Religious Studies Courses 
Hannah B. Haack, 4th year, International Relations & History Major 
Religion is such a large part of our everyday life, whether we acknowledge it or not. Taking courses in the Religions Department has not only enriched my liberal arts education, it provides an explanation for how our world and the people on it interact in various ways. With this context and knowledge in my life, I am better able to understand not only the history of our world, but how this history directly affects problems our society faces today. Because of my experience with classes in the Religions Department, I feel that I am a more empathetic and informed citizen who actively tries to break down the barriers of prejudice and ignorance when I experience it in the real world.

Updated: July 22, 2022

***EXW: Online course

RELS:1000     FIRST-YEAR SEMINAR: Games, Chance, and Gambling: Backgammon    Dilley
This seminar introduces students to backgammon, the premier game which combines skill and the luck of the dice, which has been played for more than two thousand years, in different variations, across the globe. In its current form, it is known both for its gambling potential and as a competitive event played in local, national, and international tournaments. But backgammon - and games of chance more generally - can tell us a great deal about the societies in which they flourish. Originally connected to religious practices such as divination (trying to determine the will of the gods) and cosmic symbolism, they later became an integral part of popular culture, and the target of laws and regulations from church and state.  See MYUI for full description.

RELS:1050 / POLI:1050     BIG IDEAS: INFORMATION, SOCIETY, CULTURE    Dilley
GE: Quantitative or Formal Reasoning
Does data matter? How do societies create information and use data? What can we learn about the past and ourselves from the data that we generate individually and as societies?  Students work with faculty from multiple disciplines to investigate these questions through contemporary and historical examples, using inquiry-based activities to build success in basic data skills, critical thinking, and teamwork.  They gain experience working with different types of data used to illuminate and improve politics, literature, entertainment, public health, and other areas of society and culture.  

RELS:1130 / HIST:1030       INTRO TO ISLAMIC CIVILIZATION               Souaiaia
GE: Values & Culture; International and Global Issues  
This course is for students with an interest in learning about the Islamic civilization, religious practices and beliefs, and/or the history or the regions where Muslims are in the majority.  We will examine the traditions and main social and legal institutions of Islam. Arguably, Islam, as a major system of beliefs and practices in the world, affects both Muslims and non-Muslims. We will review the discussions surrounding the life of the Prophet of Islam, Islamic pre-modern and modern history, the place and role of individuals and society, the legal and economic status of women, and Islamic governments and movements.  More info on Prof. Souaiaia’s website.

RELS:1225     MEDIEVAL RELIGION AND CULTURE     Dean
GE: Historical Perspectives
This course explores European religion, principally Western Christianity, and its broader cultural setting from the end of antiquity to the eve of the Reformation (ca. 1500).  It examines beliefs and practices among the intellectual and social elite as well as the meaning of religion for the largely illiterate and unlearned majority of the population.  Topics also include the role of women, religious opposition, the place of the liturgy, religious art and architecture, politics and religion, and the syncretic blend of “official” and folk religion. 

RELS:1350      INTRO TO AFRICAN AMERICAN RELIGIONS     Turner
GE: Values & Culture
This course is designed to introduce students from a variety of majors to the social and cultural history of African Americans through the framework of religious history.  It will provide students with the opportunity to explore how African- American religious communities developed and changed in response to various struggles for freedom in black America, and how these freedom struggles transformed religious consciousness and social and political values in the United States from the beginning of the Atlantic slave trade to the present.  The course will engage students in critical and creative thinking about the cultural, historical, and political issues that have constructed the African American religious experience and the relationships between religion, race, and society in the United States. 

RELS:1702     RELIGION IN AMERICA TODAY          Dean
GE: Values & Culture  
We will explore together how American men, women, and children practice their beliefs in today's society, including commonalities as well as differences among religious and spiritual groups in the United States today including evangelical Protestant Christians and Roman Catholics; Orthodox, Conservative and Reform Jews; and Muslims.  We will also learn about less well known groups and adherents such as the Amish, Zen Buddhists, Scientologists, Jehovah Witnesses, and snakehandling Holiness-Pentecostals, as well as the beliefs of agnosticism and atheism. *See MYUI for full info.

RELS:1903:0EXW    QUEST FOR HUMAN DESTINY           Holstein
GE: Values & Culture
The framework for this course is made up of three ancient works: The Epic of Gilgamesh and, from the Bible, the first nine chapters of the Book of Genesis and the Book of Jonah. The differing ways in which these three texts deal with the issue of the inevitability of death is the focal point of the course. How this point is exploited is examined in Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea, Tolstoy's "The Death of Ivan Ilych," Clarke's Childhood's End, the Book of Ecclesiastes, the E'numa E'lish, and Stanley Kubrick's film, 2001: A Space Odyssey.*See MYUI

RELS:2000:0EXW        RELIGIOUS DIVERSITY FOR LEADERSHIP/ENTREPRENEURS     Supp-Montgomerie
GE: Diversity and Inclusion
This course is intended for students who may be interested in business careers, especially in entrepreneurship and leadership. Its aim is to facilitate business success by helping students to acquire practical skills in engaging religious diversity in the workplace.  Through the analysis of real-life case studies, focused inquiry into influential religions, and guided ethical discussion, the course helps students to understand the impact that religions have on the perceptions and choices of business leaders, investors, co-workers, and customers, as well as the principles and operations of successful organizations. This is an asynchronous, online course that fits well into tight schedules.

RELS:2260:EXV    HARD CASES HEALTHCARE AT THE BEGINNING OF LIFE     Lindgren-Hansen  Course Video
This highly interactive, online course is for everyone who is intrigued by—and wants to explore—the ethical impact that advances in biotechnology, including genetic, reproductive, and neonatal technology, are having in the medical arena and, more generally, on our humanity. It is also for those who want to understand the growing religious diversity of America’s communities and the impact that religion and spirituality can have on people’s ways of confronting matters of life and death.  The central goal of the course is to help you prepare for life and work in contexts where ethical, religious, and spiritual questions simply cannot be avoided and ought to be treated with intelligence and sensitivity.  See MYUI for full info.

RELS:2330:EXW    WEALTH, INEQUALITY, AND ISLAM           Souaiaia
GE: Diversity & Inclusion
In this course, using Islam and Islamic institutions as case studies, students will explore how people, individually and collectively, domestically and globally, organize different aspects of production and distribution of goods and services for current and future use--given the resources at hand and the determinant value systems to which societies adhere. More info on Prof. Souaiaia’s website.

RELS:2674 / GHS:2674    FOOD, BODY, & BELIEF: A GLOBAL PERSPECTIVE        Choi
What we eat (and don’t eat) says a lot about who we are. We will explore the central role that food plays in shaping our ethnic, gender, class, religious and political identities from a global perspective. We will ask questions like: What do we eat and why?; What shapes our eating habits?; Where does our food come from?; How much food is “wasted”?; and How can we assure equal access to food? The course pays particular attention to the impact of the global flow of ideas, images, people and materials on food consumption, food inequality, bodily practices (eating disorders, yoga), and spiritual pursuits (fasting, rituals). See MYUI for full info.

RELS:3700, 3701 EXT, EXV, EXW     NONPROFIT ORGANIZATIONAL EFFECTIVENESS I 

RELS:4930:0IND    INTERNSHIP: RIGHTS & REMEDIAL JUSTICE    Souaiaia

RELS:4960    INDIVIDUAL STUDY UNDERGRADUATES   Independent Study
RELS:4970    HONORS TUTORIAL   Independent Study
RELS:4975    HONORS ESSAY   Independent Study

RELS:5067           READINGS IN ISLAMIC STUDIES    Souaiaia

RELS:5100        TEACHING & PUBLIC ENGAGEMENT    Schlütter
This course is intended to help graduate students excel as teaching assistants, and to make them highly marketable and successful as professors. Within the frame of this course, students will begin the construction of their teaching portfolios; they will become familiar with and adept at a variety of new instructional technologies; and they will reflect critically on a broad range of theoretical and practical matters in teaching, from conceiving the goals of teaching and the strategies best suited to meeting those goals, to dealing with gender issues in the classroom and office, to leading class discussion, to constructing and grading exams. A portion of the course is devoted to issues specific to the teaching of religious studies; graduate students from other departments are welcome during such portions to reflect on issues that are specific to their own disciplines.

RELS:5200           ASIAN RELIGIONS/MODERN WORLD-GRAD STDNTS     Schlütter
This course will offer graduate students in any field a basic knowledge of, and familiarity with, the diversity of Asian religious traditions in their historical and contemporary contexts. The aim of the course is to equip graduate students in Asian Studies with a framework for further studies in Asian religions as relevant to their fields, and give graduate students in Religious Studies the competence and confidence to teach Asian religions as a component of a World religions course at the undergraduate level. See MYUI for more information.
 
RELS:6070, 6075    NONPROFIT ORGANIZATIONAL EFFECTIVENESS I

RELS:7100:OIND    READINGS IN AMERICAN RELIGIONS  Individualized Experience
RELS:7200:OIND    READINGS IN RELIGIOUS ETHICS  Individualized Experience
RELS:7450:OIND    READINGS IN HISTORY OF CHRISTIANITY  Individualized Experience
RELS:7500:OIND    READINGS IN ASIAN RELIGIONS   Individualized Experience 
RELS:7650:OIND   READINGS IN ISLAMIC & MIDDLE EASTERN ST
RELS:7650:OIND    READINGS: ANCIENT NEAR EASTERN RELIGIONS   Individualized Experience
RELS:7900:OIND    INDIVIDUAL STUDY GRADUATES   Individualized Experience 
RELS:7950:OIND    THESIS   Individualized Experience

SPRING 2022 COURSE LISTINGS

RELS:1080    INTRODUCTION TO THE NEW TESTAMENT        Dean
GE: Values & Culture
Few works come close to the impact that the New Testament has had over the past two millennia. Cultures around the world have been impacted, in both positive and negative ways, and its influence can still be seen in every aspect of modern society. However, because its influence has spread so far and wide, there are significant debates among the many diverse Christian communities and groups about what it means and how it should be applied to the world. Our course contributes to these ongoing social dialogues by focusing on the people who wrote and edited these works. Regardless of any larger or universal truths being communicated, they had to make sense of what they saw and then decide how to explain it so that their communities could understand. Using what we know about their cultural contexts as a background helps us better understand what they wrote about and why.

RELS:1250    MODERN RELIGION AND CULTURE      Dean
Same as HIST:1450  /  GE: Historical Perspective    
What does religion mean to ordinary people, and what role does it play in their everyday lives?  Explore many topics including the emergence of Protestantism and religious diversity, religiously driven violence, anti-Semitism, the rise of religious tolerance, and class, race and gender within the larger political and social context. The course spans the time from the Reformation of the sixteenth century to the present. 

RELS:1506    INTRO TO BUDDHISM                Schlutter
Same as ASIA:1060, HIST:1612  /  GE: Values & Culture
Buddhism is a living religion that for several thousand years has shaped the societies and lives of people in most Asian countries. Today, it continues as a major influence on how people in Asia understand human existence, and it has also become an influence on the lives of a significant number of people in the Western world -through mindfulness practices and in many other ways. This course gives an introduction to the main ideas, practices and institutions of Buddhism with special attention to those that are meaningful to most people, and specifically to women and minority groups in society. We will trace the historical development of Buddhism in India and its further spread throughout Asia, and examine important aspects of how Buddhism is understood and practiced in different Asian societies, as well as discuss its recent transmission to the West. The course will seek to highlight the colonialist, racist, and gendered history of the study of Buddhism, and examine how this still affects the field today. We will work with images, videos, historical documents, interviews, religious/philosophical texts, and scholarly articles. No prior study of Buddhism is required or expected.

RELS:1903EXW    QUEST FOR HUMAN DESTINY (FROM EDEN TO 2001)     Holstein
GE: Values & Culture    
The framework for this course is made up of three ancient works: The Epic of Gilgamesh and, from the Bible, the first nine chapters of the Book of Genesis and the Book of Jonah. The differing ways in which these three texts deal with the issue of the inevitability of death is the focal point of the course. How this point is exploited is examined in Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea, Tolstoy's "The Death of Ivan Ilych," Clarke's Childhood's End, the Book of Ecclesiastes, the E'numa E'lish, and Stanley Kubrick's film, 2001: A Space Odyssey. See MAUI for full information.

RELS:2122    THE PLACE OF ANIMALS IN THE HEBREW BIBLE         Holstein
The Hebrew Bible sanctions the killing of certain animals for human food. On the other hand, if one maintains a vegetarian existence, one does not violate a single dietary rule. This course will examine two celebrated biblical contexts which deal with the attitude of the biblical God towards animals. The first is Genesis 22 in which the biblical God inexplicably orders Abraham to burn his beloved son Isaac to a crisp; the second is the biblical God's long and very complicated speech in the Book of Job, which takes the form of an overview of the animal kingdom. Job, who has been searching for an answer to the question of whether his God rewards the good and punishes the bad, finds this speech to be both comforting and meaningful. In this class, we will examine these two biblical contexts as well as other relevant ones and we will view select films which deal with experimentation on animals in medical research and the extraordinary behavior of certain animals, among them the dolphin and the octopus.

RELS:2265EXW    HARD CASES IN HEALTHCARE AT THE END OF LIFE     Cates 
Same as GHS:2265
This course exposes students to some contemporary religious diversity (focusing on forms of Judaism, Islam, Christianity, and Buddhism) and facilitates a level of proficiency with religious ideas and practices, which is required of anyone who wishes to provide excellent personal or institutional care for human beings who are dying. People’s worldviews—including their beliefs and questions about the meaning of life—often have a big impact on how they approach their own death and the death of the people they love.
An important goal of this course is to help students get more comfortable talking about death, beginning with the question of what death really is and how we know for sure when someone has died. It examines first-world clinical contexts in which advanced medical technologies make it possible to keep a person (or is it just the person’s body?) alive long after the person appears to have lost the most basic of brain functions. The course looks also to places and populations that lack access to such technologies, and it considers what it means to die in different cultural contexts.  See MYUI for full info.
See MYUI for full info.

RELS:2775EXW    THE BIBLE AND THE HOLOCAUST           Holstein
This course deals with the Nazi war against Jews and Judaism from both the perspective of the perpetrators and of the victims. With regard to the victims, we will read three accounts by survivors who found themselves caught in the Nazi web of terror: one hiding out with a Polish Catholic family, another on the lam in the Latvian countryside, and the last in the belly of the beast of the largest killing center (Auschwitz); additionally, we will view the film, SHOAH, by Claude Lanzmann, which presents first-person testimonies of survivors, witnesses and former Nazis. We will also read selections from the Hebrew Bible in order to determine whether in the light of the slaughter of six million Jews it can be said that the biblical God is still "alive."  See MYUI for full info.

RELS:2947    QUEST II: SEX, LOVE, AND DEATH            Holstein
Is death “the king of terrors”? If so, what “weapons” have humans brought to bear against it? This course will examine certain ancient and modern responses to the horrors associated with death. From the Hebrew Bible, we will read the following: the Book of Ruth (the power of female friendship), the story of David and Bathsheba (the power of extra-marital love), the story of Judah and Tamar (the power of producing children), and the very short story of David and Jonathan (the power of male friendship). We will also view two films: Shane: 1953, directed by George Stevens (the power of parental love) and When Harry Met Sally, written by Nora Ephron and directed by Rob Reiner (1989). Finally, we will read some short fiction by J.D. Salinger and Ernest Hemingway.

RELS:2980    RELIGION AND CONTEMPORARY POP CULTURE                            Havel        
        From Astrology to Q'Anon: Alternative Knowledge and the Social Web
This course examines systems of thought often considered marginal and/or irrational that have proliferated through cultures and communities on popular social media platforms. Students will consider common threads between astrology, witchcraft, and a range of conspiracy theories culminating in the recent QAnon phenomenon. Major themes include the formative role of social media and the tension between critics who emphasize the irrationality of these knowledge systems and the benefits and truth-value asserted by their participants. This course will also consider the impact of social media on more institutional religions and cultures with special attention to issues of authority and self-publishing online, virtualized communities, and the impact of Covid-19. 

RELS:3190    MEDIEVAL-MODERN: BIRTH OF PROTESTANTISM       Mentzer
Same as HIST:3190
Study the religious movement that gave birth to modern Protestantism, focusing on developments in Germany, France and England.  Topics include the splintering of late medieval Christianity, Martin Luther and the German Reformation, John Calvin and religious transformations in France, and the emergence of the Church of England with Henry VIII and Elizabeth I.  Course requirements include a mid-term and final examination as well as two short reflective essays based on common readings.

RELS:3701           NONPROFIT ORGANIZ EFFECTIVENESS II
RELS:3701/EXW       NONPROFIT ORGANIZ EFFECTIVENESS II

RELS:3855EXW    HUMAN RIGHTS AND ISLAM           Souaiaia
GE: International and Global Issues      Same as IS:3855
In this course, we will explore the origins and evolution of human rights in the context of Western and Islamic civilizations. First, students will be introduced to a list of rights derived from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Second, students will examine religious texts since the formative period of the Islamic Civilization (7th century) to see the presence or lack thereof of human rights regimes therein. Third, students will survey the evolution of human rights since Enlightenment. Fourth, students will learn about human rights regimes, institutions, and mechanisms. Lastly, we will consider current events and recent human rights cases in order to highlight the interplay between theory and practice.    More information https://ahmed.souaiaia.com/teaching/

RELS:4950     SENIOR MAJORS SEMINAR: Sex, Gender, Love, and Hate in Contemporary World Religions       Cates
The Senior Seminar is a capstone course that allows you to reflect on what you have learned in your Religious Studies courses and how it is relevant to your life and future. This semester, we will examine several ways in which Religious Studies is related to our culture and world, such as morality, international relations, politics, and the media. You will also complete a Senior Seminar Project on a subject related to your personal goals and interest in Religious Studies.

RELS:4960    INDIVIDUAL STUDY: UNDERGRADUATES
RELS:4970    HONORS TUTORIAL

RELS:6580   SEMINAR: RELIGION AND SOCIETY: RACE & RELIGION IN THE UNITED STATES      Turner
Same as AFAM:6580
This seminar explores how African American religious traditions (Christianity, Islam, and African diaspora religions) developed and changed in response to various struggles for freedom in black America and how these freedom struggles transformed religious consciousness, racial identities, and social and political values in the United States from the beginning of trans-Atlantic slavery to the present. The seminar will engage students in critical and creative thinking about the cultural, historical, political, theological, and gender issues that have constructed the African American religious experience and the relationships between religion, race, and society in the United States.
 
RELS:6710    SEMINAR: APPROACHES TO HUMAN RIGHTS        Souaiaia
Approaches to Human Rights is a seminar for graduate students with background in the study of law, history, politics, philosophy, economics, anthropology, and sociology with focus on the narratives interpreted and mediated events related to human rights in both Islamic and Western cultures. Students will learn about and analyze the origins and evolution of the institutions of human rights and the formal and informal instruments and systems that have informed and impacted human rights claims throughout history and across cultures.

RELS:7100    READINGS IN AMERICAN RELIGIONS
RELS:7200    READINGS IN RELIGIOUS ETHICS

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