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Religious Studies (Relig)
Religious studies gives students the opportunity to investigate and reflect on the world's religions in an objective, critical, and appreciative manner. Though there is emphasis in religious studies on the wide variety of religious phenomena as well as on the various methods in the study of religion, the aim is to help students develop their own integrated understanding of the nature of religion and its role in individual and social life.
Graduates of the religious studies program have knowledge of the religious diversity in the United States and the world. They have the ability to interpret religion empathetically and critically and to compare and contrast historical and contemporary differences and similarities of religious systems. They understand ways in which religion influences and is influenced by the historical, social, and cultural contexts in which religious systems function. Graduates often pursue careers in non-profit, community organizations; apply to professional schools or graduate programs; or enter seminaries to prepare for ministry.
The program provides students with the following opportunities: to major or minor in religious studies, to fulfill group requirements, to take religious studies courses that are integrated into another major, to take religious studies courses as electives, and to develop an interdisciplinary studies major. (See the professor in charge of the religious studies program for advice.)
The major in religious studies seeks to provide both breadth and depth. Breadth is provided through the exploration of the world's various religious traditions and through exposure to a variety of theoretical approaches and methodologies in the academic study of religion. Depth is achieved through specialized courses in particular religious traditions and particular issues in the study of religions, culminating in research seminars. The objective is to expose the student to various components of the discipline of Religious Studies and by doing so develop skills that are valuable in a number of careers and that provide the necessary foundation for pursuing graduate studies.
Students are required to take courses in three clusters of religious traditions: 1. Western religions (religions originating in Southwest Asia, the Mediterranean Basin, or in Europe) 2. Asian religions (religions originating in South Asia, Southeast Asia, or East Asia) and 3. Indigenous religions (religions among the indigenous peoples of Africa, the Americas, Australasia, and Siberia). One additional course should focus on religion within North America.
Students pursuing a major in religious studies must complete a minimum of 33 credits, including the following requirements:
1. Three credit hours in each of the three clusters of religious traditions, for a total of nine hours.
2. Three credit hours in a course that primarily focuses on religion in North America. (The course used to meet the North American religions requirement may not be used simultaneously to meet the cluster requirement, described in number 1 above.)
3. "Theories and Methods in the Study of Religion" - Religious Studies 385.
4. Six hours of Seminar (475).
The following courses may be used to fulfill the requirements in the areas of Western, Asian, Indigenous, and North American Religions. Note that some courses cannot be used to meet these requirements, but are general electives for the Religious Studies Major.
I. Western Religious Traditions
Relig 210, Religion in America
II. Asian Religions
Relig 352, Religious Traditions of India
III. Indigenous Religions
Relig 328, American Indian Religions
IV. Religion in North America (while courses may be listed in more than one category, the same course may not be used to meet both requirements).
Relig 210, Religion in America
The program offers a minor which may be earned by completing a total of 15 credits in religious studies including course work in three of the four areas that have been previously described. Nine hours must be in courses at the 300 level or above (no more than 3 hours of seminar and no more than 3 hours of independent study).
English proficiency requirement: The department requires a grade of C or better in each of English 104 and 105 (or 105H), and requires one 300 level course in religious studies in which writing is evaluated as acceptable.
Students may choose to do a senior thesis under the supervision of a religious studies faculty adviser. This option may earn 3-6 credits toward the completion of the major.
The program offers courses for nonmajor graduate credit in religious studies as supporting work in other fields. Religious studies may also be one of the three areas used for the interdisciplinary graduate studies master's degree.
Courses open for nonmajor graduate credit: 321, 322, 328, 334, 336, 338, 350, 352, 353, 354, 356, 365, 367, 370, 377, 385, 475.
Courses primarily for undergraduate students
Relig 205. Introduction to World Religions. (3-0) Cr. 3. F.S.SS. An introduction to the academic study of religions, including myths, beliefs, rituals, values, social forms. Examples chosen from oral cultures and major religions of the world.
Relig 210. Religion in America. (3-0) Cr. 3. F.S.SS. Introductory study of the major beliefs, practices, and institutions of American Judaism, Catholicism, Protestantism, and Islam with emphasis on the diversity of religion in America, and attention to issues of gender, race, and class.
Relig 220. Introduction to the Bible. (3-0) Cr. 3. F.S. Basic overview of the contents of the Old and New Testament in light of their ancient socio-historical background, and with attention to a variety of interpretations and relevance to modern American society.
Relig 233. Introduction to Judaism. (3-0) Cr. 3. An introduction to basic Judaism. Special attention is given to Jewish sacred texts, rituals, social practices, and modern forms.
Relig 242. History of Christianity. (3-0) Cr. 3. F.S.SS. An introduction to Christian thought and practice from an historical point of view, stressing the development of belief, spirituality, and organization, and the continuities and changes involved in these developments.
Relig 260. Religious Ethics. (3-0) Cr. 3. Investigates different religious ethical theories and traditions of reasoning about practical moral issues (e.g., abortion, the just distribution of wealth, environmental ethics). Explores in detail the relationship between religious beliefs and moral practice.
Relig 280. Introduction to Catholicism. (3-0) Cr. 3. F. An introduction to Catholic belief and practice. The Catholic ethos will be located in the context of other world religions, and special stress will be placed on the central beliefs of the Creed as understood by Catholics, and on sacramentality as the distinguishing mark of the Catholic worldview.
Relig 321. Old Testament. (3-0) Cr. 3. F. An in-depth study of the literature and religion of ancient Israel in light of recent archaeological discoveries, research about the ancient Near East, and a variety of interpretations. Nonmajor graduate credit.
Relig 322. New Testament. (3-0) Cr. 3. S. A detailed survey of the sacred scriptures of Christianity in light of recent archaeological discoveries and historical research about their Greco-Roman and Jewish background. Nonmajor graduate credit.
Relig 323. Science and Religion. (Same as Hist 323.) See History.
Relig 328. American Indian Religions. (Same as Am In 328.) (3-0) Cr. 3. An introduction to the beliefs and rituals of Native American religious traditions, with attention to cultural and historical contexts and implications. Nonmajor graduate credit.
Relig 334. African American Religious Experience. (Same as Af Am 334.) (3-0) Cr. 3. F. Prereq: Af Am 105 or Relig 210 recommended. Examination of the African American experience from the perspective of black religion and the black church, with attention to political, economic, and social, as well as spiritual, concerns. Nonmajor graduate credit.
Relig 336. Women and Religion. (Same as W S 336.) (3-0) Cr. 3. F. Prereq: 105, 210 or W S 201 recommended. Examines the status of women in various religions, feminist critiques of religious structures and belief systems, and contemporary women's spirituality movements. Nonmajor graduate credit.
Relig 338. Latino/a Religious Experience. (3-0) Cr. 3. Alt. S. Historical and cultural survey of the religious experience of Mexican Americans, Puerto Ricans, Cuban Americans and other groups in the U.S. who trace their roots to the Spanish-speaking countries of Latin America. Nonmajor graduate credit.
Relig 340. Magic, Witchcraft, and Religion. (Same as Anthr 340.) See Anthropology.
Relig 342. Religion and U.S. Latino/a Literature. (3-0) Cr. 3. Alt. S., offered 2006. A study of the religious behavior and attitudes expressed in the literature of Mexian Americans, Puerto Ricans, Cuban Americans and other groups of people living in the U.S. who trace their ancestry to the Spanish-speaking countries of Latin America. Nonmajor graduate credit.
Relig 350. Philosophy of Religion. (Same as Phil 350.) See Philosophy. Nonmajor graduate credit.
Relig 352. Religious Traditions of India. (3-0) Cr. 3. F. Prereq: Prior course work in Asian, Asian- American or Religious Studies or Anthropology required. Examines the religious traditions of India, including HInduism, Jainism, and Skihism, through text, ritual, and contemporary practice. Nonmajor graduate credit.
Relig 353. Buddhism. (3-0) Cr. 3. S. The various Buddhist paths to realize enlightenment and freedom. Special attention to meditation and yoga and their relationship to altered states of consciousness and to social contexts. Nonmajor graduate credit.
Relig 356. African Religions. (3-0) Cr. 3. Prereq: Prior course work in African, African-American or Religious Studies or Anthropology required. An introduction to the teachings, practices, and history of the religions that originated in Africa and other religions which have gained substantial followings among African peoples. Nonmajor graduate credit.
Relig 358. Islamic Civilization. (Same as Hist 358.) (3-0) Cr. 3. S. An introduction to Islamic religion, culture, and society from 700 to the present. Nonmajor graduate credit.
Relig 367. Christianity in the Roman Empire. (Same as Cl St 367.) (3-0) Cr. 3. An historical introduction to the rise of Christianity in the Roman empire, with special attention to the impact of Greco-Roman culture on the thought and practice of Christians and the interaction of early Christians with their contemporaries. Nonmajor graduate credit.
Relig 370. Religion and Politics. (Same as Pol S 370.) (3-0) Cr. 3. F. Prereq: 105 or 210 recommended. The interaction of religion and politics in the U.S. from both an historical and contemporary perspective, as well as the role of religion in politics internationally. Nonmajor graduate credit.
Relig 376. Classical Archaeology. (Same as Cl St 376.) See Classical Studies.
Relig 377. Social Dimensions of Religion. (Same as Soc 377.) (3-0) Cr. 3. Alt. S., offered 2007. Prereq: 210, or Soc 130 or 134 recommended. The influence of religion in society, both as a conservator of values and as a force for social change. Nonmajor graduate credit.
Relig 384. Religion and Ecology. (Same as Env S 384.) (3-0) Cr. 3. Introduction to concepts of religion and ecology as they appear in different religious traditions, from both a historical and contemporary perspective. Special attention to religious response to contemporary environmental issues. Nonmajor graduate credit.
Relig 385. Theory and Method in Religious Studies. (3-0) Cr. 3. Prereq: 6 credits in Religious Studies or permission of instructor. Examines the variety of theories and methods employed in the study of religion. Application of these methods to various religions of the world. Nonmajor graduate credit.
Relig 475. Seminar: Issues in the Study of Religion. (3-0) Cr. 3 each time taken, maximum of 6 credits. Prereq: 6 credits in religious studies. Topic changes each time offered. Closed to freshmen. Sophomores must have approval of instructor. Nonmajor graduate credit.
Relig 490. Independent Study. Cr. 1 to 3 each time taken. Prereq: 6 credits in religious studies, and permission of instructor, approval of professor in charge of program. No more than 9 credits of Relig 490 may be counted toward graduation. Guided reading and research on special topics selected to meet the needs of advanced students.
Relig 491. Senior Thesis. Cr. 3. Written under the supervision of a Religious Studies faculty advisor.
Relig 494. Special Studies in Religious Research Languages. Cr. 2 to 3 each time taken. Prereq: 6 credits in Religious Studies and permission of instructor.
Relig 499. Peace and Justice Internship. Cr. var., maximum of 6. Prereq: 3 credits in religious studies, permission of faculty internship coordinator. Supervised placement with a peace and justice agency; structured reflection on the relation of religion and practical social issues. Offered on a satisfactory-fail grading basis only.
Relig 590. Special Topics in Religious Studies. Cr. 1 to 3 each time taken. Prereq: Permission of instructor, 9 credits in religious studies.