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Academic Initiatives

Faith Traditions

The following courses address the theme of Faith Traditions, one of the seven institutional learning goals articulated in the Habits of Inquiry and Reflection (HIR). These courses are CAP-approved for the Faith Traditions and Advanced Religious Studies requirements. They are offered by the Department of Religious Studies.

Habits of Inquiry and Reflection (pdf)

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Department of Religious Studies

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Topics in Religious Studies, Summer 2022

First Session: May 16 to June 25

Online, MW 11 a.m.-1:45 p.m.

Jusuf Salih

This is a historical and topical survey of the origins and development of Islam. Special attention will be given to the life of the Prophet Muhammad and his Prophetic tradition, the main themes of the Quran, the development of the Muslim community and its principal institutions, theological and legal perceptions, differences of the major divisions within Islam, philosophical and mystical thoughts of Muslim community.


Second Session: June 27 to Aug. 6

Online Asynchronous

Elizabeth Groppe

Explore faith traditions through the prism of reflection on our daily practices of eating, religious rituals related to food and agricultural practices and policies. Texts will be drawn from the Christian and Jewish traditions. Students will deepen their knowledge of faith traditions, explore theological and ethical questions that concern our relations to one another and our relationship to the earth and other creatures, encounter religious diversity and reflect on personal and professional commitments.


Topics in Religious Studies, Fall 2022

TR 2-3:15 p.m.

Meghan Henning

 

The academic study of the New Testament engages history, literary criticism, cultural studies and ancient philosophy. Scholars study the New Testament by asking questions that pertain to the historical contexts in which the texts were written, the persons who wrote them, the audience for which they were originally written and the various audiences who have read and interpreted these texts in the millennia since they were written. Our brief foray into the historical world of the New Testament and Biblical interpretation will not only familiarize students with the texts, but challenge them to ask their own questions about the unfamiliar and familiar elements in these ancient texts.


TR 9:30-10:45 a.m.

Robert Pryor

This course will explore the 2,500-year Buddhist tradition as it has developed in Asia. We will begin by examining the life of Siddhartha, the historical Buddha and the ancient Indian context within which Buddhism arose. After establishing this foundation, we will study the spread of the doctrine from India to Southeast Asia, China, Korea, Japan, and Tibet. This will allow us to develop an informed appreciation of the varieties of the Buddhist experience as they have evolved in dynamic relationship with their many host civilizations. Throughout this course we will be concerned with issues of continuity and change, syncretism, and selection as we examine the emergence of various Buddhist traditions over time. Readings highlighting contemporary examples of these traditions will provide living examples of Buddhist perspectives as we encounter them today. In addition, there will be opportunities during the class to experience basic Buddhist meditation techniques which will help to bring these traditions to life.


TR 3:35-4:50 p.m.

Gloria Dodd

This course gives an overview of the Catholic Church’s understanding of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Starting with the Bible and reviewing basic Church teaching, the emphasis is on Mary's relationship to Christ, the Church and an individual’s spirituality. The course introduces the Catholic Church’s approach to Mary in ecumenical/interreligious dialogues and Marian apparitions.


TR 11 a.m.-12:15 p.m.

Silviu Bunta

This section of 250 offers a basic introduction to the history, theology and life of the Orthodox Church, a church of 2,000-year-long uninterrupted history from the Apostles to today, and different from Catholicism and Protestantism. No prior familiarity with Orthodox Christianity is required. The course will explore the history of Orthodox Christianity from its inception in the apostolic age to the realities of today. Among the traditions analyzed will be the Orthodox understanding of God, humanity, Christ, the Church and deification. The course will also offer a survey of the liturgical practices of Orthodoxy. In order to facilitate comprehension, Orthodox faith and worship will be approached in comparison to the more familiar Catholic and Protestant concepts and practices.


REL 250 05: TR 11 a.m.-12:15 p.m.

REL 250 06: TR 2-3:15 p.m.

William Johnston

This course is an exploration of C.S. Lewis' "Chronicles of Narnia," a classic series in children's literature that speaks to adults as well. Beginning with "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe," we will read the books in the series. Throughout the semester, we will aim to discover and explore aspects of Christian theology that underlie these books by Lewis, one of the most famous Christian writers of the 20th century. We will examine some critiques (racism, misogyny) lodged against Lewis and the series and appreciate "the sheer psychological penetration of so much of the character drawing" (Rowan Williams), learning what we can about the meaning of being human and of course to enjoy the story-telling art of these popular and entertaining tales.


REL 250 08: MWF 10:10-11 a.m.

REL 250 09: MWF 11:15 a.m.-12:05 p.m.

TBD

The ancient religion of Judaism has been diverse and complex from its inception. This course looks at the foundations of the religion, its development and its approach to complex contemporary issues such as the Holocaust/Shoah, Zionism, disability and gender. We will combine reading, lecture and class discussion in an interactive classroom environment.


TR 12:30-1:45 p.m.

Jusuf Salih

This is a historical and topical survey of the origins and development of Islam. Special attention will be given to the life of the Prophet Muhammad and his Prophetic tradition, the main themes of the Qur'an, the development of the Muslim community and its principal institutions, theological and legal perceptions, differences of the major divisions within Islam, philosophical and mystical thoughts of Muslim community.


TR 2-3:15 p.m.

Kathy Stout

We will study the basic teachings of Zen Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism as found in their classic Chinese forms and situated in their historical context. We will discover how these traditions are embodied in Chinese art such as painting, poetry, martial arts and movies that are available to the western world. We will also explore an interreligious dialogue between Christianity and the Chinese traditions.


MWF 12:20-1:10 p.m.

John Morgan

This course is an introduction to the life and work of Thomas Aquinas. Rooted in his historical context, we examine the world into which he was born and how it helped form his theology. In addition, we will examine his interior life, his spiritual life and how it animated his theology. Finally, Thomas Aquinas still heavily influences the Catholic Intellectual Tradition. Thus, in addition to contextualizing his 13th century life, we will examine, in broad form, the reception history of his work, especially the Summa Theologica, up to the present day.


MW 3:35-4:50 p.m.

Renita Green

This course will explore the impact of systemic racism on a community, resistance as an expression of faith, theodicy (where is God in evil) and the presence of God in protest movements. We will examine protest through the lens of lament, chants as spiritual language, organizing as “kingdom” building and The Lord’s Prayer as the framework for activism.


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