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Humanities Commons

Religious Studies and the Humanities Commons

REL 103: Introduction to Religious and Theological Studies

Introductory course focused on two academic disciplines: the study of religions as historical and embodied realities, and theology as faith seeking understanding. By learning about these two disciplines, students will gain a critical self-awareness of the ways in which the modern context shapes their engagement with religion. The course emphasizes learning how to read Scripture and other primary religious sources, and learning how the Catholic intellectual tradition addresses the question of God, the meaning of human life, and the significance of human diversity. REL 103 is required for all University of Dayton students. Prerequisites: None

Though specifics of the course will vary by instructor, every course will cover the following topics: an introduction to contemporary religious and theological studies, approaches to reading and appreciating sacred texts, and selections from Catholic intellectual tradition on God, what it means to be human, religious diversity, and Catholic social teaching.

Methods of instruction may include: lecture, instruction on close, critical reading of assigned material with written responses to reading guides, guided classroom discussion, oral presentations). Co-curricular experiences: guest speakers, interviews with local religious leaders, exploration of religious art and architecture), and written assignments.

First Year Immersion Experience

A method of instruction unique to Humanities Commons courses is participation in the First Year Immersion experience, which is available to all students in REL 103. Tickets and transportation to the Schuster Center for a performance of the Dayton Performing Arts Alliance symphony, opera or ballet are provided and the event is incorporated into curriculum across the four Humanities Commons courses. Events have included:

  • 2014: Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring, Symphony
  • 2015: Dead Man Walking, Opera
  • 2016: Romeo and Juliet, Ballet

The First Year Immersion experience is further supported by the programming of the Graul Chair in Arts and Languages Rites.Rights.Writes. programming, the Alumni Chair in Humanities programming and ArtsLIVE initiatives. 

Learning Goals and Outcomes


REL 103 is a first-year Humanities Commons course within the Common Academic Program. As such, its student learning outcomes are designed to support the six student learning goals of the Humanities Commons.

By completing the courses within the Humanities Commons, students will:

  • Read primary texts closely and critically (including self-critically);
  • Analyze, in writing, a variety of texts contributing to larger historical conversations, debates, and traditions and as resources for understanding and appreciating the complexities of human identity, dignity, and experience;
  • Develop an understanding of their place in community, country, and world in relationship to multiple others, with particular attention to differences – such as class, gender, and race – upon which social inequalities are constructed and maintained;
  • Engage central concepts of Catholic intellectual tradition as they contribute to humanistic inquiry and reflection in the relevant academic discipline (English, History, Philosophy, or Religious Studies);
  • Examine the question of what it means to be human from a disciplinary perspective, and in the process make connections among disciplines and develop an appreciation for the ways in which learning is a process of integrating knowledge
  • Understand and practice academic honesty as foundational to the making and sharing of knowledge in a community of learners that is both local and global.
REL 103 Student Learning Outcomes

This course is designed to facilitate a critical understanding of contemporary approaches to the academic study of religious and theological traditions as part of the Catholic intellectual tradition. Upon completion of REL 103 students will be able to:

  • articulate an introductory level understanding of concepts characteristic of the study of religions as historical and embodied realities, and discuss examples of those concepts.
  • articulate an introductory level understanding of the study of theology as faith seeking understanding.
  • describe how the Catholic tradition engages religious diversity, both outside and within Catholicism.
  • read scripture and other primary sources with attention to context, critically and sympathetically; describe, analyze, and compare such primary sources in writing.
  • demonstrate a critical self-awareness about how the modern context shapes their engagement with religions
  • describe examples from the Catholic intellectual tradition on God and what it means to be human as expressed theologically, philosophically, artistically, and in lived practice, including some examples from the Catholic social teachings.

College of Arts and Sciences

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Dayton, Ohio 45469 - 0800