Catalog • 2011-2012

Religious Studies Courses

REL 100 Introduction to Religion and Culture - 3 credits

An introduction to the nature of religious belief and its relationship to culture. Students explore myth, ritual and, using a variety of disciplines including anthropology, sociology of religion and the history of religions. Attitudes toward religion in American popular culture and expressions of the sacred in art, music and the media are examined.

REL 101 Ancient Egyptian Religion - 3 credits

An exploration of ancient Egyptian religion including the role of belief, mythology, cosmology, ritual and art. The course provides students with an understanding of the function of religion as a comprehensive system of culture that exerted a formative influence on ancient Egyptian society throughout its 3000-year history. Students are exposed to the study of ancient Egyptian religion through a variety of interdependent approaches including archaeology, textual analysis, history, anthropology and the history of religions. The role of Egypt in the Ancient Near East is also explored with attention to its formative influence on the biblical tradition. Participants are also exposed to biblical criticism and learn how scripture evolves in inter-cultural contexts. REL 101 may also be used as preparation for group trips to Egypt which are offered in alternative years.

REL 120 Religions of South and East Asia - 3 credits

An exploration of a variety of global world religious traditions including Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Jainism, Taoism and Islam. Students study ritual, art, the relationship between religion and culture, as well as the philosophical foundations of each faith. Visits to regional religious institutions are included.

REL/PSY 204 Psychology of Religion - 3 credits

An exploration of the relationship between religion and psychology, drawing on both classical and modern theorists. Students explore religious experience, mysticism and ritual and their influence on the role of the individual in society.

REL 220 Death and Dying - 3 credits

A critical examination of major theological, philosophical, ethical and psychological themes surrounding death. The course emphasizes cross-cultural awareness, providing students with analytical skills to understand the interpretation of death globally and in American culture.

REL 225 Buddhism in America - 3 credits

In this writing intensive course, students explore the growth of Buddhism in the United States through immigrant communities and converts. Participants study ritual, art and other facets of Buddhist cultures, exploring patterns of retention and adaptation of the tradition in the United States. Participants will also have the opportunity to meet Buddhist teachers and monks both in field settings and in the class. As part of the course students will be required to participate in a day long session of meditation training at a Zen Buddhist monastery on a Saturday early in the semester.

REL 226 Hinduism in America - 3 credits

As the dominant religion of India, Hinduism has had a continuing influence on patterns of belief and culture in South Asia. In this course students explore the ways in which these cultural patterns have been brought to the United States by large numbers of devotees since reforms to U.S. immigration policy in 1965. Through visits to Hindu temples within our region participants come to understand the globalization of a tradition once through to be entirely confined to the Indian subcontinent. This course may be offered in conjunction with short term study abroad experiences in India.

REL 227 Islam in America - 3 credits

A study of the recent rapid growth of Islam among immigrants and converts in the United States. Participants explore Islam both as a belief system and as a civilization, examining patterns of Islamic art, mysticism and law. They study the global resurgence of Islam as a complexes cross-cultural framework within which the growth of U.S. Muslim communities has taken place. Field visits to mosques an Islamic centers within the region are part of the course.

REL 233 Spirituality and Wellness - 3 credits

An exploration of the relationships between religious belief, practice and health. Students analyze an expanding genre of literature that bridges the disciplines of psychology and religious studies, gaining critical awareness of the writings of Carl Jung, Viktor Frankl, Paul Tillich, Carl Rogers and others. Exploring a variety of common themes in this literature including the search for meaning, identity and transcendence they analyze cross-cultural connections between spirituality, health, meditation, prayer, and ritual.

REL 390 Independent Study - 3 credits

Individual research projects, and directed readings carried out under faculty supervision.