Religion & Philosophy Current Courses


COURSES FOR SPRING 2013

COURSES IN RELIGION

RELIGION 102 A: INTRODUCTION TO CHRISTIAN THEOLOGY Professor Valco


Block 6 (MWF 2:20-3:20)

This course is designed to introduce students to the basic tenets of Christian belief, including its scriptures, its moral teaching, and its way of life.

RELIGION 130 A: LIVING RELIGIONS OF THE WORLD
 Professor Rothgery

Block 5 (MWF 1:10-2:20)

This course will be an introductory survey of the major religious traditions of the world.  Along the way we will gain insight into primary beliefs and practices, but also gain appreciation of each religious tradition as lived, living and inter-related.  We will focus primarily on the ways religious phenomena live and breathe in the lives of individuals, communities and cultures.  Beyond the traditional focus on historic religious institutions, sacred spaces and holy texts, we will pay attention to individual experiences, rituals, gurus, families, lineages, and local communities as a way to help us understand vibrant religious communities locally and across the world.

RELIGION 204 A:
 ISLAM 
Professor Rothgery


Block 7A (MW 2:20-3:50)

This course will not only be an introduction to the Qur'an, the Islamic religion, and the fabric of Islamic societies, starting with the life of Muhammad, but also an exploration of Islamic cultures around the world as incredibly varied living traditions.  We will study Islamic political and intellectual history from the "liberal" end of the spectrum through the "ultraconservative" Islamist (and "militant") end, and examine Islamic practices, both early and contemporary.  We will also work in our classroom and in area mosques to get to know Muslims themselves, through examining Islamic spirituality, art, culture and family life.

RELIGION 205 A: HINDUISM 
Professor Larson-Harris

Block 4 (MWF 12:00-1:00)

This course will be a survey of Hindu traditions from the early Indus Valley, through the Vedic, Epic and Puranic eras to the medieval and modern eras. We will focus on Hindu texts, rituals, aesthetics and philosophies, and social and family structures.

RELIGION 210 A: EARLY CHRSITIAN CONFLICTS AND COMMUNITY LIFE Professor Valco

Block 1 (MWF 8:30-9:30)

We will study the development of Christianity from a Jewish sect in the late first century through the fourth century.  How was the early Jesus movement, seen in the writings of the New Testament, transformed the dominant religion of the Roman Empire?  This course will focus on the various Christian beliefs, practices, and social organizations that arose in the second through fourth centuries CE: for example, conflicts between Christians and the Roman state; Gnosticism; the identity of Christ, and the development of the canon of scripture.

RELIGION 217 A -TOPICS IN ISRAELITE AND EARLY JEWISH RELIGION Professor Sherwood

Block 3 (MWF 10:50-11:50)

Biblical studies is a challenging and rewarding academic field that requires mastery of a range of other fields, such as philosophy, literary studies, history and historiography, ancient languages, archaeology, theology, and others. And a major object of study is the Hebrew Bible as well as the Christian canon (including the Christian New Testament), as ancient Jews were surpassingly prolific in the literary artifacts that they produced-in Antiquity, the small, obscure people group called by outsiders "Jews" were known as "the people of the Book." Yet today, many people operate under the false assumption that a full understanding of the Bible can be gained simply by picking it up and reading it (in English) with little to no knowledge of its vast and sophisticated background; and even among experts, interpretations of given themes, issues or passages can vary widely. This course is a focused study into the right (and wrong) ways to interpret the Bible, both in its original context and today, by way of a focused examination of two interrelated Old Testament and New Testament texts.

RELIGION 225: THE RELIGIOUS LIFE OF YOUNG ADULTS Professor Henrickson

Time TBA

This course will explore the theoretical and practical sides of the religious development of young adults.  The focus of the course will be to prepare students to work with young adults in church youth groups.  Those taking the course will be given internship opportunities in local churches for the Spring semester.  Required for the Parish Youth Leadership concentration.

RELIGION 270 A: EXPLORATIONS IN RELIGION AND SOCIETY: CHANGING HUMAN NATURE Professor Peterson

Block 10 (TTh 10:10-11:40)

The average human being is taller and lives longer than even a few generations ago. Are we now less human for those changes? More? We will read authors who call for dramatic change in human physical form and those who call for us to remain as we are now and yet others that we should return to how we began. We will consider if the Christian tradition that says eventually we shall all be changed, calls for physical change in the meantime. If so or not, why, and in what way? The implications for research and therapy in stem cells, in-vitro selection, cloning, genetic intervention, parenting, medical care, ecology, and government, are many.

COURSES IN PHILOSOPHY

PHILOSOPHY 255 A: MODERN WESTERN PHILOSOPHY Professor Thomsen

Block 5 (MWF 1:10-2:20)

This course will be a survey of the major thinkers of 17th and 18th century philosophy.  Through the texts of Locke, Berkeley, Hume, Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz, and Kant this class will examine the central issues of the source of knowledge and the nature of reality.  Is knowledge gained primarily through the senses, or does reason provide us with primary knowledge of the world?  Is the world fundamentally ordered, or do we impose order on the world?


PHILOSOPHY 260 A: SELECTED TOPICS: PHILOSOPHIES OF THE SELF Professor Kelly

Block 3 (MWF 10:50-11:50)

In this course we will examine a number of views of the self culled from cross-cultural, historical, and contemporary sources. Both "theories of self" that attempt to answer the question of what the self is, and theories of "personal-identity" that attempt to determine the nature of personal identity over time (the who), will be examined.  Examples include an examination of Plato's notion of the soul (psyche), Aristotle's conception of human nature, several Buddhist views, Medieval Christian conceptions of the soul, the conceptions of self of philosophers such as Descartes, Locke, Hume, Kierkegaard, Darwin, Marx, Freud, and some postmodern and post-postmodern views as well. We will also examine some of the findings of today's cognitive neuroscientists in the thought of such luminaries as Antonio Damasio and Michael Gazzaniga. The structure of the course material will guide us through many past and present cross-cultural notions of the self, beginning with the ancient Greeks and the Upanishads (an Indian philosophical/spiritual literary genre) up to and including an examination of contemporary views as we find in current philosophy of mind, cognitive neuroscience, and eastern meditative traditions thriving in the West such as Tibetan Buddhism, yoga, and tantra. Needless to say, this course will offer an exciting, "inclusive" excursion through one of the most problematic and controversial issues of human thought. 

PHILOSOPHY 267 A: PHILOSOPHY AND FILM Professor Thomsen

Block 2 (MWF 9:40-10:40)

Whether implicitly or explicitly, every film makes claims about the nature of reality, human nature, society, politics, ethics, and aesthetics.  This makes film an excellent place to explore philosophical questions.  Specifically, this course will explore issues related to politics and oppression using the films High Plains DrifterV for Vendetta, and Inglorious Basterds.

ALSO OF INTEREST

GREEK 101 A: ELEMENTARY ANCIENT GREEK I Professor Sherwood

Block 2 (MWF 9:40-10:40)

A study of the fundamentals of Classical Greek, with emphasis on grammar, vocabulary, and translation.  Students will also read selected texts in translation as an introduction to the cultural life of ancient Greece.

INTELLECTUAL INQUIRY
Taught by Faculty in Religion and Philosophy

INQ 110: INTELLECTUAL INQUIRY

INQ 110 AA: CICERO AND AUGUSTINE Professor Thomsen

Block 3 (MWF 10:50-11:50)

In this course we read, discuss and work together on the critical interpretation in writing of classical texts from religion (Augustine) and philosophy (Cicero)  that significantly shaped the Western (i.e. Latin) cultural tradition at its beginning.  In the process we reflect on how contemporary thinkers (beginning with ourselves!) appropriate, develop or extend these classical stances in modern projects of learning, inquiry, practice and/or devotion. We inquire into the formation of the Western mind and its bearing in and on our emerging global civilization.

INQ 110 BB: CICERO AND AUGUSTINE Professor Valco

Block 11 (TTh 1:10-2:40)

See INQ 110 AA above.

INQ 110 D: FAITH AND REASON Professor Sherwood

Block 5 (MWF 1:10-2:10)

Is faith a leap in the dark, a commitment unsupported by any rational considerations?  Can a person who is committed to rational inquiry also have faith?  For some people, the theory of evolution poses a challenge to faith, but does it have to be that way?  These are the kinds of questions that we will consider in this course.  Along the way we will explore what it means to have faith, and examine both criticisms and defenses of religious belief.

INQ 110 F: WHO OR WHAT IS GOD? Professor McDermott

Block 9 (TTh 8:30-10:00)

This course reads only primary texts-those by or attributed to Confucius, Buddha, Jesus (Luke's gospel), and Muhammad-to explore the meaning of reality.  Students learn about writing and religion: how to write and think about the world's most important questions.

INQ 120: LEADING AN EXAMINED LIFE

Inq 120 c:  Life AND DEATH IN MEDICAL ETHICS Professor Peterson

Block 12: (TTh 2:50-4:20)

This course is about life, in all its tangled and formative decisions. Bioethics is the particular occasion, since whether as a patient, family member, citizen, taxpayer, care-giver, pastor or other professional, each one of us makes value choices in medical care that shape ourselves and those around us. This course gives participants an opportunity to build concepts and skills to work through the involved ethical questions, particularly considering the perspective of the varied Christian tradition. Specific challenges will include cases of informed consent in research, disconnecting life support, stem cells, in-vitro-fertilization, cloning, abortion, and genetic intervention.

INQ 270 & 271: HUMAN HERITAGE I & II

INQ 270GA: GODS, GHOSTS, AND MONSTERS Professor Larson-Harris

Block 2 (MWF 9:40-10:40)

Asian literature abounds with supernatural beings of all sorts-gods who hold grudges, monsters with 12 heads, hungry ghosts that wander the earth, and spiritual masters who can conquer all of them. These tales offer an excellent window into Asian religion and literature, because while they are fantastic (and fun to read), they make sense when read in the context of Asian belief systems.  This class will survey Indian, Japanese, and Chinese religious world views and practices as a foundation for reading Asian literature.  We will explore the Indian epic Ramayana, the Chinese novel Monkey, several Chinese and Japanese ghost stories, and the Japanese film Spirited Away. The class will ponder the following questions: What ethical and religious beliefs help explain the nature of these gods and monsters? Why are people, gods, and monsters punished under these belief systems? What do the human protagonists learn about themselves? What do the supernatural characters teach us about the human condition?

INQ 270GB: INDIA, TIBET, AND THE QUEST FOR ENLIGHTENMENT Professor Kelly

Block 4 (MWF 12:00-1:00)When did the quest for enlightenment and the alleviation of human suffering begin in India? Who was/is the Buddha? What was Buddha's response to human suffering? How did Buddhism begin? What is Tibetan Buddhism? Why are so many Westerners drawn to the practice of Tibetan Buddhism? A fundamental orientation of ancient Indian culture and its transmission, in Buddhist form, to Tibet as early as the 7th century C.E., was the alleviation of human suffering. Beginning with Vedic culture and manifesting in the concerns of Buddhist, Jain, Upanishadic, and Tantric culture and literature, a preoccupation with the enlightened life is evident. This course will examine the origins and development of this quest in India and its migration to Tibet where the quest will manifest in unique forms of Buddhist practice, thought, ritual and artistic expression. Students will also examine the contemporary interest in and growing presence of Tibetan Buddhism in western countries. We will explore this western interest in Tibetan Buddhism in a variety of ways, through film, popular Buddhist magazines, books, lectures, and more.

INQ 271WF: JONATHAN EDWARDS Professor McDermott

Block 11 (TTh 1:10-2:40)

This course explores the philosophical and religious thought of Jonathan Edwards (1703-58), widely regarded as the greatest philosopher-theologian this continent has produced. An index of his stature is the Yale University Press critical edition of his collected works, which numbers 26 volumes, 500-800 pages each. (And that was half of what he wrote!)  We will read both primary and secondary sources-both Edwards's writings and analyses of those writings by scholars of the last century.  We will follow Edwards's life and historical context while we read Edwards's texts on subjects such as beauty, the reason for creation, spiritual discernment, the meaning of history, the nature of the person, and true virtue.

INQ 300: CONTEMPORARY ISSUES

INQ 300 B: POLITICS AND PASSIONS Professor Adkins

Block 2 (MWF 9:40-10:40)

Traditional theories of politics sought ways to govern rationally. The goal was to mitigate the role of emotions in politics as much as possible. More recent theories, however, have sought to show the ways in which human activity is thoroughly embodied. The result of this theorizing has been the destruction of the stark dichotomy between reason and the emotions. Furthermore, recent advances in cognitive science and complexity theory have lent support to rethinking politics as a complex affective system, rather than the imposition of reason on the unruly passions on the unruly masses. This course will explore some of these recent advances in an effort to facilitate a research project directed as some concrete facet of political life.

TENTATIVE COURSES 

Religion

RELIGION 105: SOCRATES, JESUS, AND THE BUDDHA  Professor Zorn

RELIGION 207: NATIVE AMERICAN RELIGIONS  Professor Larson-Harris

213: PHILOSOPHIES OF INDIA  Professor Kelly

RELIGION 215: THE LIFE AND TEACHINGS OF JESUS  Professor Sherwood

RELIGION 231: RELIGION, PHILOSOPHY, AND SCIENCE  Professor Valco

RELIGION 270: TOPIC: TBA  Professor Peterson

RELIGION 286: THE LEGACY OF MODERN THEOLOGY  Professor Wisnefske

RELIGION 304: ISLAMIC MYSTICISM  Professor Rothgery

RELIGION 330: CHRISTIAN THEOLOGY AND WORLD RELIGIONS  Professor McDermott

Philosophy

PHILOSOPHY 105: SOCRATES, JESUS, AND THE BUDDHA  Professor Zorn

PHILOSOPHY 122: LOGIC  Professor Adkins

PHILOSOPHY 213: PHILOSOPHIES OF INDIA  Professor Kelly

PHILOSOPHY 231: RELIGION, PHILOSOPHY, AND SCIENCE  Professor Valco

PHILOSOPHY 260: TOPIC: TBA  Professor Thomsen

PHILOSOPHY 302: ARISTOTLE  Professor Zorn

GREEK 102: ELEMENTARY ANCIENT GREEK II  Professor Sherwood 

 

 
Israel May Term Explores Jesus in the Holy Land

Israel May Term Explores Jesus in the Holy Land

Students from Dr. Gerald McDermott’s May Term class in Israel return to campus feeling changed by the experience.

See all related stories