Religious Studies Courses

Religious Studies Courses

113 Introduction to Religious Studies (4)
An introduction to the academic study of religion. Students gain familiarity with a wide range of religious traditions; ways in which religions shape society, culture, and world affairs; and scholarly tools for coming to terms with the wide variety of sometimes strange, always interesting phenomena. Offered each fall.

RELST 116 World Religions (4)
A survey of major religions of the world, their beliefs, practices, and ethical concerns. Focusing primarily on Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism, students examine the history, literature, structures, and manifestations of each of these religions. They examine how such disciplines as psychology, sociology, theology, art, and ethics shape, and are shaped by, religious world views. Concludes with an examination of some of the key conflicts/disagreements between two of these religious traditions. Offered each semester.

RELST 140 Religion in American Culture (4)
Focuses on religion as practiced by both mainstream and minority groups in America. Examines how religion shapes, and is shaped by, American views on ethnicity, ethics, literature, business, and politics. Offered each spring.

RELST 181 Judaism through Food (4)
A hands-on introduction to Judaism. From feasts to fasts, students explore the history,texts, and traditions of Judaism through the study and first-hand encounter with its foods; their place, preparation, restrictions, and geographical variations that are central to the religious and cultural experience of Judaism. Offered each spring.

RELST 208 Foundations of Youth Ministry (4)
This course initially focuses on the history and development of youth ministry within the local church, parish, or community of faith. Students identify, compare, and critique models, philosophies, and styles of youth ministry, and then—using a case study approach—work through a broad spectrum of ministry programs and issues. Offered each spring.

RELST 217 The Old Testament World (4)
The ancient Israelites wrote stories of their past. They preserved laws. They wrote prophecies, biographies, common-sense advice, love poetry, and apocalypses. An introduction to some of these writings; specifically, the writings preserved in the Old Testament and in the Apocrypha. Examines both the history of the Hebrews and Israelites and the literature they used to express and communicate their faith. Offered fall of odd-numbered years.

RELST 218 The New Testament World (4)
The first Christians wrote letters to each other, they wrote tales about Jesus, they wrote sermons, and apocalypses. An introduction to some of those writings preserved in the New Testament and to those apocryphal and non-canonical works that shaped how the New Testament was remembered and how Christianity developed. Examines both the earliest Christians and the literature they used to create communities and to express and communicate their faith. Prerequisite: at least 3 semester hours in English, history, philosophy, or religious studies. Offered each spring.

RELST 232 Religion and American Politics (4)
Investigates the relationship between religion and politics in the United States, especially the role of traditional religious identities and issues, while acknowledging non-traditional religious movements, ideas, and issues. Emphasizes upcoming elections. Students are expected to be informed on the current debates in the various national elections which form basis of class discussions and student presentations. Identical to CSRF 232. Offered fall of even-numbered years.

RELST 233 Religion and Constitutional Law (4)
Introduces students to the relationship between religion and American law. Students explore the origins, history, and current legal foundations guiding disputes over religious freedom, providing the backdrop for discussions of current issues such as abortion, gay marriage, and euthanasia. Offered spring of odd-numbered years.

RELST 238/338 Topics in American Religion (4)
A focused examination of religion in specific areas of American culture. May include the study of specific religious traditions (e.g., Catholicism), movements (e.g., evangelicalism, new religions), or areas of cultural interaction (e.g., education, science) in American religion. May be repeated for credit as topics vary. Offered spring when circumstances permit.

RELST 250 Religion and Popular Culture (4)
Introduces students to the role religion plays in creating and maintaining culture through such popular venues as motion pictures, television, sports, and fashion, as well as the impact of religious values on popular cultural expressions. Offered in selected January Terms.

RELST 251/351 Bible and Literature (4)
Examines the Bible as the source and inspiration for works of fiction, non-fiction, biography, letters, parables, poetry, and epistles from the world’s literature, both classic and modern. These works are studied from the perspective of the literary modes of discourse drawn from the Hebrew Bible and New Testament. Offered intermittently.

RELST 253/353 Topics in Religious Ethics (4)
A focused examination of ethical theory and methods and of issues in moral theology within religious traditions. Courses offered under this designation may focus on a particular religion, on a specific practice, or on a comparative approach to religious ethics. May be repeated for credit as topics vary. Offered when circumstances permit.

RELST 303 Saints and Heretics: Christian History I (4)
Traces the “plot” of the development of Christian thought about questions of fundamental human importance from the formation of the medieval world to the Reformation. Students examine the mutual dependence of theology and wider culture with special attention to developing strategies for reading the Bible. May be taken in conjunction with RELST 304 or independently. Prerequisite: Sophomore status or consent. Offered fall of even-numbered years.

RELST 304 Damned and Saved: Christian History II (4)
Continues the “plot” of the development of Christian thought. Students trace the creation of our own modern world view from the wake of the Reformation through the Enlightenment and into the 19th and 20th centuries. Emphasizes the development of strategies for reading the Bible as students examine the interrelation of theology and its cultural context at each step of the way. May be taken in conjunction with RELST 303 or independently. Prerequisite: Sophomore status or consent. Offered spring of odd-numbered years.

RELST 308 Lobbying and Religious Advocacy (4)
Examines how, through approaches to lobbying and political advocacy, different religious communities engage in American politics, how their religio-historical views play a role in that engagement, and how their socio-historical context often has determined (or continue to determine) their level of access in the political realm. Prerequisite: Sophomore status or consent. Offered in January Term.

RELST 326 Methodism (4)
An interdisciplinary exploration of the history of Methodism, with special attention given to the Wesleys, Asbury, other early itinerant preachers, and the religious and cultural development of the Methodist denomination and its Wesleyan offshoots (such as the AME Church). Prerequisite: 4 semester hours of religious studies or history. Prerequisite: Sophomore status or consent. Offered spring of even-numbered years.

RELST 329 International Religious Freedom (4) W
An exploration of global issues related to limitations on religious freedom, international efforts to address religious freedom concerns, advantages and disadvantages of the American tradition of First Amendment-based religious liberty, and the difficulties inherent in geo-political and religious conflicts over religion and religious freedom. Prerequisite: Sophomore status or consent. Offered on demand.

RELST 335 Christian Theology and Film (4) W
Explores how the fields of theology and film studies cross-fertilize each other, with special attention given to the ways in which film functions as religious discourse. Students investigate the historical evolution of film as a means of communicating theological doctrines or themes through its narrative patterns and analyze how religious and secular films can be constructed as cultural texts that advise not only how one should live, but what one should believe. Emphasizes the sermonic nature of film, various hermeneutics of film, and how audiences receive and appropriate both manifest and latent religious meanings. Prerequisite: Sophomore status or consent. Identical to COMM 335. Offered fall of even-numbered years.

RELST 352/452 Seminar in C. S. Lewis (4)
Investigates the literary, historical, and theological contributions of British author C. S. Lewis, exploring key literary and philosophical influences upon his life and literature and examining how his thought and imagination have affected contemporary religious discourse and practice. May be offered either as an on-campus course or as a travel course. Prerequisite: Sophomore status or consent. Offered spring of even-numbered years.

RELST 361/461 Thinkers/Topics in Religion (4) I*
Focused, in-depth study of one important religious thinker (or thinker about religion), or a narrowly defined topic of current importance in religious studies. May be repeated for credit with the instructor’s permission. Prerequisite: Sophomore status or consent. Offered each year. *RELST 461:(I).

RELST 364 Mediating Religious Conflicts (4)
This course highlights disagreements and conflicts between religions in the United States. Through interreligious presentations, debates, and facilitation training, it seeks to develop the skills and dispositions that students can use to more fully negotiate the challenges created by differences, and to create opportunities for meaningful dialogue, cooperation, and action. Prerequisite: Sophomore status or consent. Offered spring of odd-numbered years.

RELST 365 Extreme Religion & Religious Freedom (4)
After examining the roles and functions of ecstatic and extreme experience within world religion today, this course focuses on the meaning and significance of these experiences for the practitioners of these religions. In addition, students will engage in individual research on specific controversies relating to individual practices and issues relating to religious freedom. Prerequisite: sophomore status and consent. Offered in selected January Terms.

Robert Nusbaum Center Courses

CSRF 232 Religion and American Politics (4)
Investigates the relationship between religion and politics in the United States, especially the role of traditional religious identities and issues, while acknowledging non-traditional religious movements, ideas, and issues. Emphasizes upcoming elections. Students are expected to be informed on the current debates in the various national elections which form basis of class discussions and student presentations. Identical to RELST 232. Offered fall of even-numbered years.

CSRF 233 Religious Battles in Court (4)
Introduces students to the relationship between religion and American law. Students explore the origins, history, and current legal foundations guiding disputes over religious freedom, providing the backdrop for discussions of current issues such as abortion, gay marriage, and euthanasia. Offered spring of odd-numbered years.

CSRF 312 Servant Leadership Internship (2)
An integrative experience that includes both academic and experiential elements, along with the development of specific skills related to mediation and community building. The field experience may be with government agencies, non-profits, religious organizations, or specific ministries. May be repeated for credit. Prerequisites: Sophomore status, 2.4 cumulative GPA, placement, and consent. Offered each semester.