Requirements for a minor in Religion.
Writing Proficiency.
Honors Program
Courses of Instruction


Available as a major on the B.A. degree and as a minor on the B.A., B.S. and B.B.A. degrees.

The meaning of human existence in relation to ultimate reality has been a concern of all cultures past and present. Any adequate understanding of human culture must take seriously the phenomenon of religion. The academic study of religion, therefore, is a central part of a liberal arts education, at home among the disciplines called the humanities. The Department provides an informed understanding of various aspects of the Christian traditions. More broadly, it supports the University's commitment to multiculturalism and education from a global perspective through study of the cultural diversity apparent in the world's religious traditions. Interdisciplinary and foreign studies contribute to the development of such awareness and we encourage students to explore those possibilities.

Courses in the Department approach religious traditions historically, textually, philosophically, and comparatively, and consider the role of religion in society, culture, and individual life. Their aims are to introduce students to various methods and issues in the study of religion; to familiarize them with the beliefs and practices of various religious traditions; to develop their critical thinking, reading and writing skills; and to encourage them to explore and evaluate their own culturally-conditioned self-understandings and ultimate commitments. Students will find the multidimensional study of religion to be fertile ground for developing habits of mind that are excellent foundations for professional life. Those planning for seminary, graduate study in religion, or any aspect of church-related vocation will be well prepared by Department courses and well supported by faculty advisement.

Requirements for a B.A. degree with a major in Religion. Twenty-seven semester hours distributed from the various groups of the Religion curriculum as follows: one Introductory Course; four courses from Group I (one from each of the four subcategories of Group I: Biblical Studies, Historical Studies, Contemporary Developments, Other World Religions); two courses from Group II (40603 plus one other course); and two courses from Group III. At least 15 hours of the major must be in junior-level courses or higher. Freshman seminars do not count toward the major.

Pass/No Credit Option. Courses to be applied toward the major may not be taken on the Pass/No Credit basis. Religion majors may take courses in their minors on the Pass/No Credit basis.

Requirements for a minor in Religion. Eighteen semester hours distributed from the various groups of the Religion curriculum as follows: one Introductory Course; three courses in Group I (one from third digit 1 if 10013 is taken, one from third digit 5 if 10003 is taken); and one course from Group II; one course from Group III. At least 9 of the 18 hours must be in junior-level courses or higher. Freshman seminars do not count toward the minor.

Writing Proficiency. The development of writing proficiency is a vital component of the educational process. Both majors and minors are encouraged to utilize faculty assistance and the resources of the Writing Center to achieve that goal.

Honors Program. Religion majors who plan to pursue Departmental Honors must be members of the Honors Program and should enroll in RELI 30003 during their junior year, and RELI 40003 during the fall semester of their senior year. Note: RELI 30003 Junior Honors Seminar substitutes in the major for the required Senior Seminar, RELI 40603.

The following is a complete list of courses offered by this department. Go to Class Search to see which courses are being taught this semester.

Courses of Instruction

Introductory Courses

10003 UNDERSTANDING RELIGION: THE BIBLE. This course considers historical, comparative and methodological issues in the study of religion by focusing on the background and contents of the Hebrew and Christian Bibles and ways these foundational texts inform later Judaism and Christianity.

10013 UNDERSTANDING RELIGION: THE WORLD'S RELIGIONS. This course considers historical, comparative and methodological issues in the study of religion by focusing on some foundational texts, figures and ideas in major world religions.

Group I. Historic Traditions
Courses in the history and distinctive features of religious traditions.

A. Christianity and Judaism

1. Biblical Studies

20123 NEW TESTAMENT LITERATURE AND LIFE. An introduction to the writings in the New Testament with special attention to the content of the individual books, together with an understanding of the beginnings of the Christian faith seen through the study of the Gospels and the initial development of the Christian movement.

30113 JESUS AND THE GOSPELS. A careful look at early Christian gospels, including Thomas, and at how scholars construct a historical Jesus from them.

30123 PAUL AND THE EARLY CHURCH. The developing origins of Christianity, with particular emphasis on Paul and his influence.

30133 RELIGION AND THE SEARCH FOR MEANING IN THE OLD TESTAMENT. Study of the biblical books of Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and Job within their own socio-historic contexts as a basis for investigating some of the fundamental questions of human religious experience, including the function of worship, the relationship of reason and faith, the problem of evil, and the bases of ethical behavior.

30143 LOVE AND SEX IN THE BIBLICAL WORLD. Prerequisite: RELI 10003, 10013, or permission of instructor. A study of male-female relationships in Israel's history, literature and religion, with attention to the relevance of biblical values to today's society.

30153 HOW TO READ THE BIBLE: STORY AND POLITICS. Prerequisite: RELI 10003, 10013, or permission of instructor. Explores distinctive characteristics of biblical narrative and investigates why readers produce different interpretations of biblical stories. It asks how social structures and value systems, ancient and modern, affect texts and interpreters.

30163 THE BIBLE AT THE MOVIES. Prerequisite: RELI 10003, 10013, or permission of instructor. Examines movies based on biblical stories to see how the Bible may be interpreted in words and visual images. Investigates how the Bible's authority is used to promote particular religious, moral, social, and political values in popular culture.

40130 ISSUES IN BIBLICAL INTERPRETATION. Prerequisite: RELI 10003 or permission of instructor. Examination of issues that arise from the interpretation of biblical texts. The particular issues studied will be chosen from areas of current interest or from methodological considerations (such as contemporary hermeneutics, biblical theology and ethics, or critical methodologies). (3-6 sem. hrs.)

50130 SEMINAR IN BIBLICAL STUDIES. Prerequisite: approval of instructor. A particular topic in Biblical Studies will be selected for detailed study. (3-6 sem. hrs.)

2. Historical Studies

30303 CHRISTIAN ETHICS. A survey beginning with the Bible and including major points of view from the early church fathers through contemporary ethicists. The student will take a position and apply it to a selected issue in Christian ethics.

30323 CHRISTIAN TRADITION: EMERGENCE TO THE RENAISSANCE. A study of developments in Christian thought, practice, and institutions from the beginnings of the church through the 15th century.

30333 CHRISTIAN TRADITION: REFORMATION TO MODERNITY. A study of developments in Western Christianity from the 16th century Reformation to the 20th century, with attention to issues of theology, institutions, and practices. Does not include religion in America.

30343 BLACK RELIGION IN THE U.S. Explores the relationship between "race" and religion and surveys African-American religious history in the United States, from the religious commitments of enslaved Africans to contemporary American black people's faiths.

40313 THE HISTORY OF RELIGION IN AMERICA. A survey of the major events and developments in religion in the United States, taking into account the development of institutions and thought patterns in terms of their interaction with the American context.

3. Contemporary Developments

30413 CONTEMPORARY CATHOLICISM. Roman Catholicism in the modern period with particular attention given to the Second Vatican Council and its intellectual and institutional implications. There will be some emphasis on American Catholicism.

30433 CHRISTIANITY AND CONTEMPORARY SOCIAL ISSUES. Explores the relationship of church and society as a resource for a critical understanding of local and international issues. Students will learn skills in social analysis and apply them to public policy recommendations.

30443 RELIGION AND POLITICS IN LATIN AMERICA: THE CROSS AND THE SWORD (POSC 30503). Study will focus on the traditional and newly-emerging interaction of Judeo-Christian ideas and institutions with the society and politics of certain Latin American countries. In comparison, the cultural bases of North American presuppositions about religion and politics will also be explored.

30453 SECTS AND CULTS IN AMERICAN RELIGION. The categories "sect" and "cult" in religion studies, with illustrations from existing groups, both within and outside the Christian tradition, e.g., Hasidic Judaism, Jehovah's Witnesses, Christian Science, Baha'i, the Amish, and Mormonism.

40403 ISSUES IN CONTEMPORARY THEOLOGY. Prerequisite: 3 semester hours of Religion or permission of instructor. An examination of contemporary theological issues such as the relation between faith and history, the meaning of language about God, and the impact of religious pluralism. The relevance of such issues for the student's own theological thinking will be stressed.

B. Other World Religions

30513 HINDU RELIGIOUS PERSPECTIVES. An exploration of the diverse strands of the Hindu religious tradition (ritual, philosophical, devotional) from the Vedic period to the modern day.

30523 EAST ASIAN RELIGIOUS PERSPECTIVES. The development of diverse religious traditions (Confucianism, Taoism, Buddhism, Shinto) in China and Japan from prehistory to modern manifestations.

30533 BUDDHISM: THOUGHT AND PRACTICE. The development of Buddhism in India, Tibet, China, and Japan. Material will range from the Buddha's life to American Zen.

30543 ISLAM. The Islamic religious tradition from 7th century Arabia to current resurgence, including social, theological, and mystical dimensions. Topics include Muslim views of Allah, revelation (the Qur'an), and the Prophet Muhammad. Islam's encounter with "modernity" will also be addressed.

30553 AFRICAN RELIGIONS. Explores the world views, beliefs and practices of African Traditional Religions. Also examines the impact of Christianity and Islam on African Traditional Religions since the colonial period.

Group II. Methodological and Constructive Studies
Courses involving critical methodologies or constructive reflection on religious traditions.

30003 HONORS SEMINAR IN RELIGION. Creative dialogue between religion and other disciplines of learning, or aspects of culture.

30633 PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION (PHIL 30323). Prerequisite: PHIL 10003 or any religion course. This course is centrally concerned with issues relating to the rationality and justification of religious convictions. There is also an interest in the coherence of religious concepts. Various philosophical models for understanding and evaluating religious convictions and practices are examined and applied.

30643 GOD IN MODERN THOUGHT. Prerequisite: 3 semester hours of Religion or Philosophy. An exploration of ideas of God as they have developed in Western theology and philosophy since the 17th century. The relation between these ideas and current models for thinking about God will be stressed.

30653 RELIGION AND THE LEARNING PROCESS. An investigation of ways theological views, understandings of perception, and theories of learning and development shape an approach to religious education.

30673 ANTHROPOLOGY AND RELIGION (ANTH 30973). Interpretations of myths, symbols and religious beliefs and practices in cross-cultural perspective; comparative functions of religion in society; religion and cultural change. Focus is on non-Western, technologically-primitive people and their religions.

30683 SOCIOLOGY OF RELIGION (SOCI 30683). An introduction to understanding the role of religion in society and to sociological methods for the study of religion. The course will introduce theories and research pertaining to types of religious experience, conversion and commitment, denominationalism, secularization, and fundamentalism. Class, gender, race and ethnicity will also be addressed as they influence religion in society.

40603 SENIOR SEMINAR. Prerequisite: Senior standing and 12 hours in Religion. Capstone seminar exploring selected issues, themes, or methods in the academic study of religion.

40613 CONSTRUCTIVE GLOBAL ETHICS. A critical study of ethical inquiry in a pluralistic world by focusing on proposals for a global ethic, scholarship on interreligious dialogue and research in comparative religious ethics. Students write proposals for promoting moral consensus on an international issue.

Group III. Issues, Topics, and Interdisciplinary Studies
Courses with a specific thematic or interdisciplinary focus.

20703 THE CHRISTIAN MINISTRY. Introduces the role of the minister and outlines his/her responsibilities. Special emphasis on preaching, religious education (including youth work) and pastoral care.

30713 WOMEN AND WOMANHOOD IN WESTERN RELIGION. An exploration of the ways Christianity, Judaism, and Islam have helped to shape Western attitudes toward women. The lives of representative women and their influence will be examined in some detail; readings from religious thinkers on the nature of woman will be studied.

30723 RELIGION AND SCIENCE. An exploration of the ways of knowing utilized in religion (particularly the Judeo-Christian heritage) and in science, and how these ways of knowing relate.

30733 MYSTICISM. Prerequisite: RELI 10003, 10013 or permission of instructor. An examination of concepts of mysticism and mystical experience. Examples will be drawn from Christian, Hindu, and Buddhist sources.

30743 RELIGION IN THE ARTS. The Arts are studied as a primary medium for the expression of religious perspectives and values. Emphasis is given to methods of analysis and interpretation, symbolism and processes of symbolization, and both historical and contemporary examples in painting, sculpture, architecture, music and film. Historical examples are taken from Western and Byzantine civilizations.

30773 INDIA: TEXTS AND TRADITIONS. (ENGL 30773) A consideration of selected classic works of religious and literary imagination in Indian culture. Versions and interpretations of the Hindu epics Mahabharata and Ramayana will be examined in translation.

30783 RELIGION AND ENVIRONMENTAL ETHICS. Explores the ethical challenge of increased competition for world resources and threats to the eco-system. Examines how changing religious understandings shape moral choice in issues such as distribution of goods, care of nature and population shifts, with special attention to perspectives from the two-thirds world.

30793 RELIGION, SPORTS, AND U.S. CULTURE. Sports are often cited as the prime example of American civil religion, a set of beliefs, values, practices, and identities that bind Americans of otherwise different backgrounds. Sports have also often interacted with institutional religion, from the YMCA to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. This course will examine both the formal and historical connections between sports and faith in the U.S. as a prism into popular religion.

30823 JESUS IN FICTION AND FILM. Over the past fifty years many creative writers and movie makers have attempted portraits of Jesus and Christ-figures in fiction and film. This course will identify the christological themes in these portraits and examine their importance for the development of contemporary Christian theology.

30833 CHRISTIANITY AND LITERATURE. This course probes the Christian theological themes (the reality of God, the person and work of Jesus Christ, the relationship between good and evil, the life and mission of the Church, and the idea of life after death) expressed in various works of post-1945 fiction and the Christian theological tradition.

30843 CROSS-CULTURAL STUDIES IN RELIGIOUS ART. Prerequisite: RELI 10003, 10013 or permission of instructor. Utilizing area art museums, this study is designed to explore a broad range of Western, Asian, and African art in terms of form, content and context; specifically, to acquire a broader cross-cultural knowledge of the development of art as expression of religion.

30853 WOMEN IN AMERICAN RELIGION. Explores the experiences of women in American religion with attention to the interplay between women's religious identities and their roles in the work force, families, and racial, ethnic and/or minority groups. Readings will be drawn from historical, sociological and theological works.

30873 ISLAM IN AMERICA. Explores the growth and spread of Islam in America. Introduces students to different Islamic groups and how they relate to each other. Discusses Muslims' responses to different challenges and criticism of Islam and Muslims by the media. Explains the roles of African Americans and women in Islamic institutions in America.

30883 LITERARY IMAGES OF GOD. Prerequisite: RELI 10003, 10013, or permission of instructor. This course examines the nature and activity of God from a variety of literary perspectives. One focus is a study of God as the protagonist of a classic of world literature, namely, the Hebrew Bible. Another focus is that of God in contemporary novels, short stories, and memoirs.

30893 CARIBBEAN RELIGIONS. Beginning with an historical account of the origins and development of religions in the Caribbean, this course views the Neo-African traditions of Vodoun, Shamanism, Santeria, Rastafarianism, and Obeah through the prism of contemporary Caribbean literature.

40003 HONORS SENIOR RESEARCH PAPER. To be written under the tutorial leadership of members of the faculty.

40700 RELIGION IN GEOGRAPHICAL CONTEXT. A seminar dealing with a significant topic such as religion in art, church history, or contemporary issues, conducted in appropriate locations in this country or abroad. Specific topic will be defined as course is scheduled. Admission to course through application by announced deadline. (1-6 sem. hrs.)

40713 RELIGION IN PERSONALITY DEVELOPMENT. Prerequisite: Permission of instructor. A study of religion and personality which includes consideration of selected theories of personality and their implications for understanding the development of religion in individuals.

40733 CHURCH AND STATE RELATIONS IN AMERICA. The relationships between religious institutions and civil authority in America. While providing a historic context for the study, the course is primarily issue-oriented, dealing with such topics as prayer and Bible reading in public schools, state aid to parochial schools, conscientious objection to military service, Sunday closing laws, and taxation of churches.

40900 PROJECTS IN RELIGION. Assigned special problems in religion. (1-3 sem. hrs.)

50970 DIRECTED STUDY IN RELIGION. (1-6 sem. hrs.)