Courses in Religious Studies

Courses may not be offered during every semester. To confirm course offerings for each semester, please use the Course Search.

You have a wide array of course offerings that cover a diverse and expansive set of topics in Religious Studies. The faculty brings a wealth of experience and expertise to their work, and will guide you on various, contemporary approaches to this engaging material. Whatever your learning goals may be, there are Religious Studies courses that can add texture and perspective to your academic journey.

REL-R 101 Religion and Culture (3 cr.) Fulfills Cultural Understanding General Education Core requirement. An introduction to the diversity of human cultures from the perspective of religious studies. The course uses a case study approach to understand how religion shapes, and is shaped by, culture and society. REL-R 103 The Bible and Culture (3 cr.) Fulfills Cultural Understanding General Education Core requirement. A cultural introduction to this central text of Western civilization. Explores some of the Bible's major themes and literatures in their original context. Examines how the Bible's Jewish and Christian parts relate to each other and how biblical stories, concepts, and ethics have been interpreted and have influenced later culture. REL-R 111 The Bible (3 cr.) A critical introduction to the major periods, persons, events, and literatures that constitute the Bible; designed to provide general humanities-level instruction on this important text. REL-R 120 Images of Jesus (3 cr.) This course is designed to introduce students to the variety of traditions about the figure of Jesus. It will acquaint students with the wide array of images of the Jesus character through a historical analysis of these images portrayed in texts, art, music, film, and TV. REL-R 133 Introduction to Religion (3 cr.) Fulfills Arts and Humanities General Education Core requirement. Introduction to the diversity of traditions, values, and histories through which religion interacts with culture. Emphasis on understanding the ways the various dimensions of religion influence people's lives. REL-R 173 American Religion (3 cr.) Fulfills Arts and Humanities General Education Core requirement. A consideration of American religion, with particular emphasis on the development of religious diversity and religious freedom in the context of the American social, political, and economic experience. REL-R 180 Introduction to Christianity (3 cr.) Fulfills Arts and Humanities General Education Core requirement. Survey of beliefs, rituals, and practices of the Christian community with a focus on the varieties of scriptural interpretation, historical experience, doctrine, and behavior. REL-R 212 Comparative Religions (3 cr.) Fulfills Arts and Humanities General Education Core requirement. Approaches to the comparison of recurrent themes, religious attitudes, and practices found in selected Eastern and Western traditions. REL-R 243 Introduction to the New Testament (3 cr.) Fulfills Arts and Humanities General Education Core requirement. A critical examination of the history, culture, and literature of the New Testament period with special emphasis on the emergence of early Christian beliefs. REL-R 257 Introduction to Islam (3 cr.) Fulfills Arts and Humanities General Education Core requirement. Introduction to the emergence and spread of Islamic religious traditions, including the Qur'an, Islamic law and ethics, and Islamic mysticism before 1500CE. Special emphasis on the creation in the Middle Ages of an international Islamic civilization--stretching from Mali to Indonesia--linked by trade, learning, and pilgrimage.
REL-R 300 Studies in Religion (3 cr.) Consent of Instructor. Selected topics and movements in religion, seen from an interdisciplinary viewpoint. May be taken for up to 9 credit hours under different titles. REL-R 301 Women and Religion (3 cr.) A critical examination of the roles of women in religion, looking at a range of periods and cultures in order to illustrate the patterns that characterize women's participation in religious communities and practices. REL-R 305 Islam and Modernity (3 cr.) This course examines the issues and events that have shaped Muslims' understanding of the place of Islam in the modern world. It focuses on the way Muslim thinkers have defined the challenge of modernity-politically, technologically, socially and religiously-and the responses that they have advocated. REL-R 308 Arab Histories (3 cr.) Explores how Arab people have commemorated, debated, and interpreted their shared past. Topics may include role of Arab identity in early Islamicate societies; Arab nationalism; and the modern Arab diaspora. REL-R 312 Prophets, Captives, and Converts: Autobiographies in American Religion (3 cr.) This course uses religious autobiography as a way to explore American religious history. We will read autobiographies from a wide range of Americans, both well known and relatively obscure. Autobiographies allow a unique and intimate view of religion in America. Through these texts we will explore such questions as the role of religion in colonial encounters of Europeans and Indians, the intersection of race and religion in the formation of American identities, the development of new religious traditions, and the forms and practices of religion in America. REL-R 314 Religion and Racism (3 cr.) Explores the interaction of religion and racism. Selected case studies may include the Bible and racism, racial reconciliation among evangelical Christians, the Ku Klux Klan in Indiana, and Islamophobia. REL-R 315 Hebrew Bible (3 cr.) A critical examination of the literary, political, and religious history of Israel from the period of the Patriarchs to the Restoration, with emphasis on the growth and formation of the major traditions contained in the Hebrew Bible. REL-R 323 Yuppie Yogis and Global Gurus (3 cr.) This course will trace the history of encounters and dialogues between Asian religious figures and products and American culture beginning with the eighteenth and nineteenth century missionary ventures to Asia by Americans and ending with present-day emergent religious movements. The course material is weighted toward the late twentieth century to the present. We will explore the moments of discovery and renewal as well as those of domination and exclusion in the encounters between American culture and Asian religious figures and products. A central concern throughout the course will be identifying how encounters and dialogues permanently affected and continue to affect the religious landscape in the United States. The course will focus on Hindu, Buddhist, and Sikh traditions in their encounters and dialogues with American culture. Both missionaries to Asia and missionary gurus from Asia will be subjects of analysis along with Asian immigrant communities and new religious movements. In addition to looking at important figures such as Emerson, Vivekananda, The Beatles, and Bikram Choudhury, we will also evaluate certain religious institutions and movements, such as ISKCON and postural yoga. We will ask: how have Asian religious gurus and products, such as yoga, transformed American religious consciousness and practice? To what extent are Asian religious products constructed anew in the context of globalization? How have religious products been re-defined and re-interpreted as a consequence of global encounters? When have there been moments of violence, intolerance, and discrimination against practitioners of Asian religions in the United States? REL-R 325 Paul and His Influence in Early Christianity (3 cr.) Life and thought of Paul, in the context of first-century Christian and non-Christian movements. Development of radical Paulinism and anti-Paulinism in the second century; their influence on the formation of Christianity. REL-R 328 Religions of the African Diaspora (3 cr.) Surveys the origin, history, organizational structures, beliefs, and devotional practices of the religions that developed among African slaves and their descendants in the new world (including Brazil, Haiti, Cuba, and the United States). REL-R 329 Early Christianity (3 cr.) This course introduces the religious world of early Christianity by examining its formation and development. The course emphasizes intellectual history while placing religious ideas in historical, cultural, social, and economic contexts. It underscores diversity and explores how ideas shape religious faith, how religious practice guides religious thinking, and how culture and religion interact. REL-R 333 Religion and Literature (3 cr.) This course examines some of the issues raised by modern literature that challenge and critique religious conventions. The focus is on the modern era, since the last two centuries saw the emergence of literary imagination as a major cultural force while traditional religious systems came under greater and greater scrutiny. We will consider a handful of prominent works of fiction by some familiar and perhaps not so familiar literary masters. All of the assigned texts raise questions of religious and personal identity over and against other persons and/or groups. Almost all of the assigned texts emerge out of, and challenge, the European Christian milieu. As you read them, therefore, you are to consider how each text may force the reader to raise basic but large religious questions, such as: Who/what am I? Who/what am I not? What must I do? What must I know? How ought I live to live well? To whom do I have obligations? REL-R 344 Reformations of the Sixteenth Century (3 cr.) This course introduces students to the religious reformations of sixteenth-century Europe. It examines the historical background to the Reformation and surveys a number of reformation movements. While intellectual history is emphasized, the ideas of religious thinkers are placed in broad historical, cultural, social, and economic contexts. REL-R 348 Religion and Its Monsters (3 cr.) What can we learn about religion when we approach it through its monsters? What do monstrous stories--whether myth, legend, or fiction--reveal about the sacred? In what ways is a monster sacred and the sacred monstrous? This class explores the monster as the apotheosis of the horror of human existence. Our emphasis will be upon Western religious traditions (Judaism and Christianity), but the course will cover a very diverse range of imaginative expressions, including ancient myths of chaos gods, Greek myth and Latin tragedy, Jewish legends, medieval Christian epic poetry, 19th c. Gothic novels, as well as paintings, sculpture, architecture, music, and modern film. REL-R 361 Hinduism and Buddhism (3 cr.) Examination of the origins and cultural developments of classical Hinduism and Buddhism through studies of selected lives and writings, religious practices, and symbolism in the arts through explorations of these two worldviews as reflected in historical, literary, and ritual forms. REL-R 363 African-American Religions (3 cr.) History of African American religions from the colonial era to the present. Topics may include the African influences on African American Black Methodism, Black Baptist Women's leadership, Islam, and new religious movements. REL-R 367 American Indian Religions (3 cr.) American Indian Religions is a course designed to explore the religious traditions of the Indian tribes of the Americas with a focus on the tribes of North America and specifically Indiana. REL-R 368 Religion and Healing (3 cr.) This course explores how different religions and cultures understand illness and healing. Attention will be given to the diverse understandings of selfhood, health, wellbeing, and illness present in different cultures as well as the various practices these cultures have developed to address the root causes of illness. Although we will talk about biomedicine, the primary healing system of the West, the focus is on nonwestern cultures, and may include units on East Asian, South Asian, Native American, Latin American, and African traditions of healing. REL-R 369 Love, Sex, and Justice (3 cr.) Do we owe anything to anyone? Is life worth living without love or justice, or both? Are they not fundamental virtues of human relations, unconditionally necessary for us to live well? If justice must be blind, is there room for compassion or desire? Is justice truly "love gone public?" What happens when there is one without the other, or when they appear to be in conflict? What are their limits? This course seeks to address these questions by examining some of the foremost contributors to how we have come to think about love, sex, and justice in American culture in light of certain contemporary public disputes. REL-R 370 Islam in America (3 cr.) Explores the history and life of Islam and Muslims in the United States, including the ethnic and religious diversity of American Muslims, conflicts about gender relations and women's issues, debates about Islam's role in politics, and the spirituality of American Muslims. REL-R 372 Inter-Religious Cooperation (3 cr.) How do you cooperate with people from different religious backgrounds? This course examines inter-religious cooperation among professionals, social activists, political adversaries, and others. Topics may include religious freedom in the workplace, the interfaith youth movement, and inter-religious peacemaking in conflict zones. REL-R 373 Pilgrimage in World Religions (3 cr.) Pilgrimage is one of the most ancient practices of humankind and is associated with a great variety of religious and spiritual traditions. This class explores all aspects of the practice of pilgrimage or sacred journeying, from its nationalistic aspects, as with Medjugorje in Croatia, to its economic development aspects, the impact of the internet and globalization, pilgrimage and protest (as with Gandhi's famous salt march), and so on. The similarities and differences in the practice of pilgrimage in Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity, and other religions and spiritual traditions, all the way to Graceland can be considered. What are the points of commonality? The reasons for pilgrimage vary greatly and were most famously described by Chaucer in his classic book The Canterbury Tales. Our class will explore the many dimensions of sacred travels. REL-R 375 Religion Behind Bars (3 cr.) This course will explore punishment, prison, and the prison industrial complex's relationship to religion. The course will examine the development of the prison in the Western world, specifically the United States, and its relationship to religious norms, values, and institutions. In addition to the historical evolution of prison and the prison industrial complex, this course will also address the current prison system and the role of religion in the contemporary moment. Finally, this course will look at how religion is shaped in and by the prison system and the prison industrial complex. REL-R 378 Revolution and Revolutionaries (3 cr.) From the founding of the United States to the current uprisings identified as the "Arab Spring," religion and political and social revolution often seem to be curious yet common travel partners. This course will ask why and how religion and political revolution travel together. How do religious language, symbols, and identities shape writing and other forms of discourse? How has religion or a critique of religion informed many of the larger social movements of the modern era (slave resistance, black power, feminism, workers' rights, democratic participation and citizenship)? This course will focus on works that foreground the interaction between religion and revolutionary movements throughout the modern era. REL-R 379 Religion and Philanthropy (3 cr.) This course explores relationships between religious traditions and philanthropic ideas and activities. Selections from important traditional texts and biographical examples and similarities of a variety of religious worldviews regarding their ways of sharing goods and performing acts of service. REL-R 381 Religion and Violence (3 cr.) Examines the relationship between religion, violence, and society in light of recent global events, drawing on a range of classical and modern texts concerning religious justifications for non-ritualistic bloodshed. Focusing on Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, themes addressed include otherness, transgression, revenge, torture, retribution, with special attention paid to religious terrorism. PUL=5 REL-R 383 Power, Sex, and Money (3 cr.) An examination of current ethical debates about war, medicine, discrimination, welfare, marriage, sexuality, etc. The focus will be how diverse traditions of moral reasoning have been developed and practiced within Catholicism, Protestantism, and Judaism. REL-R 384 Religions, Ethics, and Health (3 cr.) The positions of religious ethical traditions on issues such as the control of reproduction, experimentation with human subjects, care of the dying, delivery of health care, physical and social environments, and heredity. REL-R 386 Consumption, Ethics, and the Good Life (3 cr.) What is the good life? Do consumers have moral responsibilities for a sustainable environment, worker justice and good societies? This course draws from religious and philosophical ethics, economics, public policy, social criticism and cultural studies to explore how people can lead good lives and build healthy communities through consumer choices and social advocacy. REL-R 393 Comparative Religious Ethics (3 cr.) Comparisons of ethical traditions and moral lives in the world's religions. The focus will be how formative stories, exemplary figures, central virtues, ritual practices, etc., clarify different traditions' understandings of key moral issues, rights, and roles. REL-R 394 Militant Religion (3 cr.) Examines the various ways Jewish, Christian, and Muslim apocalyptic literature has shaped, fostered, and contributed to the current rise in global militant religion. Themes include cosmic warfare, just war traditions, jihad, ancient and modern apocalypticism, messianism, millennialism, and the new wars of religion. REL-R 395 Religion, Death, and Dying (3 cr.) Death is life's most inescapable reality; it is also inseparable from religion. This course surveys the death-related beliefs and practices of the world's major religious traditions, exploring how they deal with the reality of death on both the practical and spiritual level. The course also examines religious debates about the afterlife and considers cross-cultural questions of meaning related to death and dying. REL-R 397 Mormonism and American Culture (3 cr.) Introduction to the history, beliefs, and practices of the Latter-day Saints (Mormons); exploration of the Book of Mormon and other LDS scriptures; exploration of Mormonism's relationship to American culture. REL-R 398 Women in American Indian Religions (3 cr.) Women in American Indian Religions is a course designed to examine the roles of women in American Indian Religions and practice and the expressions of the feminine aspects in their world views. REL-R 400 Studies in Religion (1-3 cr.) P: Consent of instructor. Specialized and intensive studies in religion with an interdisciplinary emphasis. May be repeated twice under different titles. REL-R 433 Theories of Religion (3 cr.) Theorists of religion explore the what, why, and how of religions. What is religion? Why are people religious? How do religions shape meaning in people's lives, cultures, and societies? This advanced seminar examines classical to contemporary theories. Fulfills Religious Studies senior capstone. Offered fall semesters only. REL-R 532 Studies of Religion and American Culture (3 cr.) Consent of Instructor. Study of selected topics in the history of religious life and thought in America. REL-R 533 Theories of Religion (3 cr.) Consent of Instructor. Graduate seminar. See REL-R 433 for course description. REL-R 539 Religion and Philanthropy (3 cr.) This course explores relationships between religious traditions and philanthropic ideas and activities. Selections from important traditional texts and biographical examples and similarities of a variety of religious worldviews regarding their ways of sharing goods and performing acts of service. REL-R 590 Directed Readings in Religious Studies (3 cr.) Consent of Instructor. Specialized Graduate Studies in Religion

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Contact department mentor Prof. Kelly Hayes or department chair Professor Rachel Wheeler.