Course Topics

REL 185: Imagining Religion with the Beatles

The music of the Beatles took shape during a revolutionary decade in which old patterns of religious belief and practice were being challenged and new forms of spirituality were emerging. We will examine the philosophical, spiritual, and religious themes in the music and musings of the Beatles in order to gain a better perspective on what was happening to religion in Britain and America during the 1960s and how the Beatles influenced generations of spiritual seekers and skeptics alike. 

REL 221: History of Christian Thought

A survey of central events, ideas, and figures in the history of Christianity from the early church to the present. The course will focus on primary texts, and attention will be given to the ways that Christian theology has developed over the centuries within a variety of cultures. Prerequisite: one of REL 101, 111, or 112. (Rel, HEPT, Hist) 

REL 222: Religion in America

A historical survey of the role of religion in American life, focusing on the interaction between religion and culture in the United States. The course will examine the development of religious pluralism in the U.S. and explore selected issues that have arisen and continue to affect American culture, such as religious liberty, revivalism, utopianism, immigration and ethnicity, slavery, fundamentalism, and the contributions of women and minorities. Prerequisite: one of REL 101, 111, or 112. (Rel, HB, Hist)

REL 238: Islamophobia

Islamophobia is a contested concept that is often employed to capture the fears of and prejudices toward Muslims and Islam in the West. This course will explore this controversy and Western perceptions of Muslims and Islam by critically engaging the following questions: What are the theological, historical, political, and cultural forces that have given rise to perceptions of Islam as inherently violent, intolerant, misogynist, and backwards? How does Islamophobia differ from legitimate disagreements with specific Islamic beliefs and practices? What impact have negative perceptions of Islam had on the free exercise of religion for Muslims in the West? What do these perceptions of Muslims and Islam reveal about Western assumptions concerning religion and the religious Other? Prerequisite: one of REL 101, 111, or 112. (Rel, HEPT, Hist)

REL 252: Introduction to Interfaith Studies

This course introduces students to the emerging field of interfaith studies, a discipline that analyzes how people who orient around religion differently think about and interact with one another, along with the implications of these interactions for civil society, global politics, and the common good. Particular focus will be given to the following themes: religious and interfaith literacy, theologies and philosophies of religious pluralism, multi-religious belonging and practice, interfaith families, interfaith leadership, interfaith peacemaking, and secular and non-religious contributions to interfaith engagement. Prerequisite: one of REL 101, 111, or 112. [Rel, HE, Intcl] 

REL 370: Theology and Religious Diversity

Religious diversity is a reality that we can no longer avoid. It challenges us to take seriously the spiritual and religious commitments of others and to reflect more critically on our own questions about and commitments to religion. This course will introduce students to the larger theological issues involved in interreligious dialogue and learning, a field known as comparative theology. Incorporating thinkers from at least three religious traditions and putting them into conversation with one another, the course will explore the following questions from a theological perspective: How does globalism and the fact of religious diversity influence my beliefs? What are various ways of thinking about god, the world, and our place in it? What is the significance of my neighbor's faith for my own? How might an engagement with other religious traditions shape and transform my own religious identity? Prerequisite: one of REL 101, 111, or 112. (Rel, HEPT, Intcl)

PAIDEIA 450: Islam in Europe: Western Responses to the Muslim "Other"

This study abroad course will explore the challenges facing contemporary Europe in regards to the integration of Muslim minority and immigrant populations. Students will visit Amsterdam, Brussels, Copenhagen, Malmö, and London. Students will meet with scholars, journalists, Muslim and Christian leaders, and politicians. Among the issues that students will study from an ethical perspective: freedom of the press and journalistic integrity in the media portrayal of Muslims and Islam; multicultural v. assimilationist immigration policies; the political mobilization against Muslim minorities and its impact on the free exercise of religion; and the place of Muslims and Islam in constructions of national and European identities. Prerequisite: Junior or Senior Standing. (Intcl, J-Term II, Paideia II)