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Courses Offered

REL 200 What Is “Religion”?– An Introduction to Religious Studies (CORE—Philosophical Inquiry)

(Second semester/3 credits) 

An exploration of religion and religions in their various dimensions. Covers important myths and rituals and how they guide us in daily living. Special attention will be given to personal and communal religious change, reconciliation, alienation and spiritual/mystical practices and experiences.

REL 203 Old Testament (CORE—Philosophical Inquiry)

(First semester/3 credits) 

A critical study of the history, literature and religion of ancient Israel and the significance of the Hebrew Scriptures for Judaism and Christianity.

REL 204 New Testament (CORE—Philosophical Inquiry)

(First semester—even years/3 credits) 

A critical study of the New Testament literature and its theological significance.

PLRL 205 Classical Religion and Philosophy (CORE—Philosophical Inquiry)

(Second semester—even years/3 credits) 

This course introduces students to the fundamental concepts of Greco-Roman religion and philosophy through the study of both primary source material and modern scholarly writing. The first half of the semester will introduce the student to the ancient world via its religious practices, concentrating on both public cult activity and private or secret rituals. The second half of the semester will look at the same social and civic issues from a philosophical perspective, examining issues such as individual free will, the relationship between the gods and men, ethical conflicts and theories of justice and the state.

REL 211 American Religious History (CORE—Philosophical Inquiry)

(Second semester—odd years/3 credits) 

History of religion in America from the Puritans to the present day. Special attention will be given to certain themes (e.g., this nation as God’s New Israel) that are especially characteristic of the American religious experience.

REL 212 The Christian Heritage (CORE—Philosophical Inquiry)

(First semester—even years/3 credits) 

An introduction to the principal ingredients of Christian history and theology, from the period of the early church to the present day.

PLRL 301 Indian Thought (CORE—Non-Western Civilization)

Prerequisite: Completion of the Philosophical Inquiry section of the Core. (First semester/3 credits) 

An introduction to the religious and philosophical traditions of India. Special emphasis will be given to the Upanishads and Bhagavad Gita, the classical philosophical systems and the mythologies of Hinduism and to the Buddhist traditions of South Asia.

REL 303 Judaism (CORE—Western Civilization)

Prerequisite: Completion of the Philosophical Inquiry section of the Core. (First semester/ 3 credits) 

An introduction to Judaism covering major events in Jewish history, central teachings and important rituals and practices. Will involve reading selections from Jewish scripture (Tanakh), rabbinical texts and excerpts from the writings of well-known Jewish thinkers. Special attention will be given to Hasidism, Judaism in America and contemporary issues.

REL 304 Islam (CORE—Non-Western Civilization)

Prerequisite: Completion of the Philosophical Inquiry section of the Core. (Both semesters/ 3 credits) 

An introduction to Islam covering major events in Islamic history, central Islamic teachings and important rituals and practices. Will involve studying the life of the Prophet Muhammad, reading selections from the Qur’an (in English translation) and listening to recordings of professional reciters. Special attention will be given to Sufism, Islam in America and major issues facing Muslims in the contemporary world.

PLRL 306 Chinese Thought (CORE—Non-Western Civilization)

Prerequisite: Completion of the Philosophical Inquiry section of the Core. (Second semester/3 credits) 

An introduction to the religious and philosophical traditions of China from the Shang dynasty to the modern era. Special emphasis is given to the role of ancestor veneration, divination, the development of Confucian and Daoist traditions, the Chinese adoption of Buddhism and the interaction of these traditions and practices throughout Chinese history.

PSRL 310 The Politics of the Black Church

Prerequisite: 3 credits of history, religion, political science or African-American studies at the 200 level, or permission of the instructor. (Second semester—odd years/3 credits) 

This course examines the political manifestation of the black church from slavery, as the “invisible institution,” to the “black megachurch” of the 21st century. We will look at the periods of American slavery, the Great Migration and the Civil Rights Movement, and cover themes such as black theology, the politics of gender, class conflict, black nationalism and community development.

AFRL 311 Black Theology (CORE—Western Civilization)

Prerequisite: 3 credits of history, religion, political science or African-American studies at the 200 level, or permission of the instructor (First semester/3 credits) 

This course introduces students to the core of black Christian theological thought: black liberation theology. We will explore the historical roots of black Christian theology and focus on some of its key tenets, like the physical depiction of Christ, the depiction of the Christian community/communities and the role of Christianity. We will identify the major points of convergence and divergence between black liberation theology and other liberation theologies such as womanist theology and Latin American liberation theology.

REL 314 Western Spirituality: Contemporary Issues (CORE—Western Civilization)

Prerequisites: 3 credits in religion and permission of the instructor. (Second semester—odd years/3 credits) 

An inquiry into leading issues in Western spirituality, including, especially, the variety of approaches to the holy or the transcendent in Western spiritualities. Texts may be drawn from Jewish, Christian, Muslim, or Native American sources. Typically the leading focus will be on Christian spirituality—but never exclusively. We will consider such themes as humans’ knowledge of God, the relation between the natural and the supernatural, the relation between spirituality and institutional religion, approaches to living the good life, religion and violence, spirituality and “the world,” the meaning of spirituality in the context of sacred texts, and the relation between spirituality and psychology.

HNRL 320 Liberation Theologies (CORE—Non-Western Civilization)

Prerequisite: Completion of the Philosophical Inquiry section of the Core. Open to sophomores, juniors or seniors in the Honors Program, or with permission of the instructor. (Offered as needed/3 credits) 

This course introduces students to theologies and philosophies of liberation which developed in the 20th century as practical and active ways to address human oppression. The topics will include black liberation theology Latin American liberation theology, African liberation theology, mujerista theology, and womanist theology. We will read and study the major works in liberation theology such as the writings of Paulo Freire, Gustavo Gutierrez, James Cone, Jacqueline Grant and Mercy Amba Oduyoye.

HNRL 323 C.S. Lewis and Friends (CORE—Western Civilization)

Prerequisite: Open to religion majors and sophomores, juniors or seniors in the Honors Program, or with permission of the instructor. (Second semester—even years/3 credits)

An analysis of the fiction and nonfiction of the 20th century British writer C. S. Lewis. This course will also examine selected writings by other members of the group known as “the Oxford Christians”: e.g., Charles Williams, Austin Farrer and Dorothy L. Sayers.

ARRL 330 Archaeology of Ancient Israel

Prerequisite: ART 220 or HIST 262 or permission of the instructor (First semester—even years/4 credits)

This course examines the development of cultures in and around the modern country of Israel, from the Neolithic Age through the end of the Bronze Age (c. 12,000-586 B.C.). In it, we will focus on the archaeology of Israel/Palestine and its neighbors and on how scholars reconstruct their social, economic, religious and political institutions. We will use evidence from archaeological sites and surveys, as well as written documents from Israel (including the Old Testament) and surrounding areas. It is important to keep an open mind and use analytical skills in order to assess these often conflicting sources of data. Although this course will not go into later, New Testament times, it will offer students a context into which they can fit their readings of both the Old and New Testaments.

REL 375 Independent Study in Religion

Prerequisites: 6 credits in religion and permission of the instructor. (Either semester/1, 2 or 3 credits) 

Students work independently on some religious subject matter selected in consultation with the department. Reports and papers are given during the semester.

REL 398 Religion Tutorial

Prerequisite: at least 3 credits in religion. (Offered as needed/3credits) 

An opportunity to work with a faculty member and a small group of students in a semester-long program of directed reading, essay writing and discussion.

REL 399 Internship in Religion

Prerequisites: 18 credits in religion and permission of the instructor. (Either semester/3-6 credits) 

Supervised off-campus educational project with an organization or institution approved by the department. Grading is on a satisfactory/unsatisfactory basis.

REL 412/512 Myth, Symbol and Ritual

Prerequisites: Junior or senior standing, 3 credits in Western religion, 3 credits in non-Western religion, 3 credits in theory of religion or social scientific theory or permission of the instructor. (First  semester—even years/3 credits) 

A critical exploration of the meanings and functions of myths, symbols and rituals in a variety of the world’s cultures. Readings will be drawn from a number of primary and secondary texts in an effort to understand what we mean by “myth,” “symbol” and “ritual,” and how these categories relate to “religion.”

PLRL 470/570 Seminar

Prerequisites: 9 credits in religion and/or philosophy or permission of the instructor. (Second semester/3 credits) 

Advanced study of special topics in religion or philosophy.

PLRL 497 Critical Paper

Prerequisites: 21 credits in religion or philosophy, junior or senior standing and permission of the instructor. (Either semester/1 credit) 

Outstanding students in religion or philosophy, particularly those intending to proceed to graduate school, should consider the value of producing one carefully crafted, substantial and thoroughly revised paper. In all likelihood, this paper would be a revision and expansion of a paper written for a previous course in the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies. The final product should be 15 to 20 pages, revised under the supervision of a faculty member of the department. The author will defend her or his paper before departmental faculty and student majors.

REL 233 Eastern Religions (CORE-Philosophical Inquiry)

(First semester/3 credits)

This course surveys the history, doctrines, and practices of Eastern religious traditions. The traditions typically covered include Hinduism, Zoroastrianism, Jainism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Taoism, Confucianism and Shinto. This course is recommended for students who wish to take 300-level courses covering Eastern religions.

REL 233 Eastern Religions (CORE—Philosophical Inquiry)

(Second semester—as needed/3 credits) 

This course surveys the history, doctrines, and practices of Eastern religious traditions. The traditions typically covered include Hinduism, Zoroastrianism, Jainism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Taoism, Confucianism and Shinto. This course is recommended for students who wish to take 300-level courses covering Eastern religions.

REL 342 From Abolitionism to Human Rights (CORE—Western Civilization)

Prerequisites: Completion of the Philosophical Inquiry and Historical Analysis areas of the Core or permission of the instructor. (Second semester—even years/3 credits) 

An exploration of the religious and political motivations British abolitionists had for changing the social, economic, and legal structures that supported slavery. What impact British abolitionism had on the evolution of human rights law will also be assessed.

PHIL 200 Contemporary Philosophical Topics (CORE—Philosophical Inquiry)

(Both semesters/3 credits) 

An introduction to some significant contemporary philosophical topics. This course aims to introduce students to philosophy through a discussion of fundamental problems and central issues of concern to philosophers today. Topics will be drawn from the fields of ethics, epistemology, social and political philosophy, philosophy of law, metaphysics, philosophy of science and philosophy of religion. Sample topics include contemporary conceptions of human nature, self and world, rationality and the emotions, the virtues, the just society, law, evil, war and terrorism, and the nature and extent of human knowledge.

PLWS 203 Philosophical Issues in Feminism (CORE—Philosophical Inquiry)

(Second semester—even years/3 credits) 

An examination of some of the primary philosophical issues of concern to feminist thinkers. This course will consider various feminist perspectives on issues in the areas of ethics, epistemology, metaphysics, human nature and politics. It will also consider some objections to feminist perspectives. While a majority of the readings will cover issues discussed by contemporary thinkers, a few historically significant feminist philosophers will often be included. Practical social and political issues, as well as theoretical topics will be covered. Representative issues include sex, gender, reproduction, embodiment, emotion, family and motherhood.

PLRL 205 Classical Religion and Philosophy (CORE—Philosophical Inquiry)

(Second semester—even years/3 credits) 

This course introduces students to the fundamental concepts of Greco-Roman religion and philosophy through the study of both primary source material and modern scholarly writing. The first half of the semester will introduce the student to the ancient world via its religious practices, concentrating on both public cult activity and private or secret rituals. The second half of the semester will look at the same social and civic issues from a philosophical perspective, examining issues such as individual free will, the relationship between the gods and men, ethical conflicts and theories of justice and the state.

PHIL 207 Logic

Credit by exam. (First semester/3 credits) 

An introduction to informal and formal logic. This course aims at strengthening students’ ability to think critically and to assess the soundness and validity of arguments. Informal logic uses ordinary language to identify, analyze and evaluate the arguments used in everyday reasoning. It also identifies and explains many of the common fallacies found in such reasoning. Formal logic uses symbolic notation to study valid inference and to enable students to recognize, analyze and construct valid arguments. (Particularly recommended for students taking the LSAT.)

PHIL 212 Human Nature and Society (CORE—Philosophical Inquiry)

(Both semesters/3 credits) 

An inquiry into the nature and possibilities of human beings and a critical analysis of the meaning of responsibility in society. Study will focus on matters of practical as well as theoretical import (e.g., leadership, ideal communities).

PHIL 220 Professional Ethics (CORE—Philosophical Inquiry)

(Second semester—as needed/3 credits) 

This course introduces students to the variety of ethical challenges that confront professionals in such fields as law, journalism, business and management. Students critically examine issues in professional ethics primarily by applying moral theories to practical case studies.

PHIL 221 Ethics (CORE—Philosophical Inquiry)

(Both semesters/3 credits) 

A critical study of classical and contemporary ethical theories on the topics of ethical relativism, free will and determinism, and the source and justification of moral values. The relevance and applicability of these theories to the solution of pressing contemporary moral problems are emphasized.

PLRL 301 Indian Thought (CORE—Non-Western Civilization)

Prerequisite: Completion of the Philosophical Inquiry section of the Core. (First semester/3 credits) 

An introduction to the religious and philosophical traditions of India. Special emphasis will be given to the Upanishads and Bhagavad Gita, the classical philosophical systems and the mythologies of Hinduism and to the Buddhist traditions of South Asia.

PHIL 305 Great Figures in Western Philosophical Thought (CORE—Western Civilization)

Prerequisite: Completion of a course in philosophy: PHIL 200, PLWS 203, PLRL 205, PHIL 212, PHIL 221, PLRL 301, PLRL 306 or INPL 309. (Second semester—as needed/3 credits) 

An introduction to the philosophical works of a major figure or a group of closely related thinkers in the history of philosophy. This course introduces students to the philosophical texts and ideas of an important historical figure or figures and discusses the significance of these ideas to the Western philosophical tradition. Students may repeat when a study of a different figure is offered.

PLRL 306 Chinese Thought (CORE—Non-Western Civilization)

Prerequisite: Completion of the Philosophical Inquiry section of the Core. (Second semester/3 credits) 

An introduction to the religious and philosophical traditions of China from the Shang dynasty to the modern era. Special emphasis is given to the role of ancestor veneration, divination, the development of Confucian and Daoist traditions, the Chinese adoption of Buddhism and the interaction of these traditions and practices throughout Chinese history.

PHIL 307 History of Philosophy: The Ancient World to the Renaissance (CORE—Western Civilization)

Prerequisite: Completion of a course in philosophy: PHIL 200, PLWS 203, PLRL 205, PHIL 212, PHIL 221, PLRL 301, PLRL 306 or INPL 309. (First semester/3 credits) 

An introduction to philosophy from the ancient world to the Renaissance. This course aims to introduce students to Western civilization through a discussion of some of the significant primary philosophical texts from ancient and medieval Europe. Thinkers typically covered include Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, Cicero, Anselm and Aquinas. Topics may include social and political philosophy, ethics, epistemology, religion, metaphysics and philosophy of law.

PHIL 308 History of Philosophy: The Early Modern Era to the 20th Century (CORE— Western Civilization)

Prerequisite: Completion of a course in philosophy: PHIL 200, PLWS 203, PLRL 205, PHIL 212, PHIL 221, PLRL 301, PLRL 306 or INPL 309. (Second semester/3 credits) 

An introduction to the primary philosophical movements from the 17th to the 20th century. This course introduces students to the rationalist and the empiricist traditions, as well as addresses philosophical issues in epistemology, metaphysics, ethics and political theory. Thinkers covered typically include Hobbes, Descartes, Locke, Rousseau, Hume, Kant, Hegel, Marx, Mill, Kierkegaard and Nietzsche.

INPL 309 Biomedical Ethics (CORE—Society, Science and Technology)

Prerequisites: One course from the Scientific Thought section of the Core and completion of the Philosophical Inquiry section of the Core. (Both semesters/3 credits) 

A philosophical and scientific approach to understanding current ethical issues in medicine. Issues to be discussed include abortion, euthanasia, genetic engineering, genetic testing, informed consent, organ transplantation and experimentation with human subjects. Each topic will be covered from the scientific and the ethical perspective. May be used for the major in philosophy.

PHIL 314 The American Intellectual Tradition (CORE—Western Civilization)

Prerequisite: Completion of the Philosophical Inquiry area of the Core or permission of the instructor. (Second semester—even years/3 credits) 

A survey, from the Puritans to the present, of major figures and currents in American thought. The course will cover not only philosophers but representatives of the worlds of literature, religion, politics, social reform and economics, as well.

HNPL 316 Science and Global Ethics in the Non-Western World (CORE—Society, Science, and Technology)

Prerequisites: Completion of the Scientific Thought and Philosophical Inquiry areas of the Core. Open to sophomores, juniors and seniors in the Honors Program, or with permission of the instructor. (First semester—as needed/3 credits) 

Basic advances in genetics, reproductive medicine and in combating infectious diseases will be examined for their consequences on the non-Western world, and within the context of non-Western cultures. Topics in applied ethics will be considered from a global, non-Western perspective. Students will use the case study approach to understand genetics, epidemics, euthanasia and reproductive technology.

PHIL 360 Topics in Ancient Greek Philosophy (CORE—Western Civilization)

Prerequisite: Completion of a course in philosophy: PHIL 200, PLWS 203, PLRL 205, PHIL 212, PHIL 221, PLRL 301, PLRL 306 or INPL 309. (Course is offered as needed/3 credits) 

This course considers topics in ancient Greek philosophy, such as Aristotle’s Ethics and Plato’s Republic. Students may repeat the course when it is taught under a different topic.

PHIL 375 Independent Study in Philosophy

Prerequisites: 6 credits in philosophy and permission of the instructor. (Either semester/1, 2 or 3 credits) 

Students work independently on some philosophic subject matter selected in consultation with the department. Reports and papers are given during the semester.

PHIL 399 Internship

Prerequisites: 18 credits in philosophy and permission of the department. (Either semester/3-6 credits) 

Supervised off-campus educational project designed to provide students with an opportunity to exercise the discipline of philosophical reflection in a nonacademic setting. In addition, the student must submit written work indicating her ability to perceive the philosophical issues within or underlying nonphilosophical contexts. Grading is on a satisfactory/unsatisfactory basis.

PLRL 470/570 Seminar

Prerequisites: 9 credits in religion and/or philosophy, or permission of the instructor. (Second semester/3 credits) 

Advanced study of special topics in religion or philosophy. May be repeated once under a different topic.

PLRL 497 Critical Paper

Prerequisites: 21 credits in religion or philosophy, junior or senior standing and permission of the instructor. (Either semester/1 credit) 

Outstanding students in religion or philosophy, particularly those intending to proceed to graduate school, should consider the value of producing one carefully crafted, substantial and thoroughly revised paper. In all likelihood, this paper would be a revision and expansion of a paper written for a previous course in the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies. The final product should be 15 to 20 pages, revised under the supervision of a faculty member of the d department. The author will defend her or his paper before departmental faculty and student majors.

HNPL 315 Literature of Moral Reflection (CORE—Western Civilization)

Prerequisite: Open to sophomores, juniors and seniors in the Honors Program, or permission of the instructor. (Second semester—odd years/3 credits) 

Through analysis and discussion of works of great literature, students will examine questions concerning human nature and ethical responsibility. Authors may include Tolstoy, Greene, Hurston, Marx, Golding, Camus, Sophocles and C.S. Lewis.

PHIL 211 Philosophy through Film (CORE—Philosophical Inquiry)

(Second semester—as needed/3 credits)  This course uses films to introduce students to some contemporary philosophical problems and issues. Topics covered may include issues in epistemology, metaphysics, personal identity, philosophy of mind, ethics, and existentialism. Particular attention will be given to questions concerning meaning and value.

PHIL 401/501 Ethics and Leadership (CORE—Western Civilization)

Prerequisites: Junior standing and completion of the Philosophical Inquiry core requirement or permission of the instructor. (Either semester/3 credits)  This course examines ethical dilemmas and moral examples in five key areas of society: education, religion, the military, corporations, and politics. Cases will be drawn from both majority and minority communities. The focus within leadership will be on key principles of conduct and on relevant virtues, such as courage, humility, fortitude, and prudence. Theory and practice will be analyzed together, as examples will be drawn from important historical episodes, including the Second World War and the Civil Rights Movement. Students will gain an understanding of the relation of ends and means, of the meaning of integrity in the workplace, and of the moral demands of leadership.

REL 512/412 Myth, Symbol and Ritual (Humanities Elective)

(First semester—even years/3 credits) 

A comparative study of the meaning and function of myth, symbol and ritual in the world’s various religious traditions. Readings will be drawn from ancient and modern sources.

PLRL 570/470 Seminar (Humanities Elective)

Prerequisites: 9 credits in religion and/or philosophy, or permission of the instructor. (Second semester/3 credits) 

Advanced study of special topics in religion or philosophy. May be repeated once under a different topic.

PHIL 505 Great Figures in Western Philosophical Thought (Humanities Elective)

(Second semester—odd years/3 credits) 

An introduction to the philosophical works of a major figure or a group of closely related thinkers in the history of philosophy. This course introduces students to the philosophical texts and ideas of an important historical figure or figures and discusses the significance of these ideas to the Western philosophical tradition. Students may repeat when a study of a different figure is offered.

PHIL 507 History of Philosophy: The Ancient World to the Renaissance (Humanities Elective)

(First semester/3 credits) 

An introduction to philosophy from the ancient world to the Renaissance. This course aims to introduce students to Western civilization through a discussion of some of the significant primary philosophical texts from ancient and medieval Europe. Thinkers typically covered include Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, Cicero, Anselm and Aquinas. Topics may include social and political philosophy, ethics, epistemology, religion, metaphysics and philosophy of law.

PHIL 508 History of Philosophy: The Early Modern Era to the 20th Century (Humanities Elective)

(Second semester/3 credits) 

An introduction to the primary philosophical movements from the 17th century to the 20th century. This course introduces students to the rationalist and the empiricist traditions, as well as addresses philosophical issues in epistemology, metaphysics, ethics and political theory. Thinkers covered typically include Hobbes, Descartes and Locke.

PLRL 570/470 Seminar (Humanities Elective)

Prerequisites: 9 credits in religion and/or philosophy, or permission of the instructor. (Second semester/3 credits) 

Advanced study of special topics in religion or philosophy. May be repeated once under a different topic.