Religious Studies
College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Check out Religious Studies Courses for Spring 2017!

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Religious Studies Department

***Spring 2017 Courses***



RELI 316 

Modern Christian Thought    

Prof. Garry Sparks              MW 10:30-11:45

Christianity – to be reduced, reused, recycled, retrieved, reconfigured, or... resurrected? The intellectual changes brought about by modernity—from the scientific method, to the emphasis on human reason—raised critical questions about the Christian understanding of the world. This course will examine some influential modern critiques of religion, and the responses of leading Christian thinkers who provide new ways to understand Christianity in an emerging global world. In addition to philosophy, literary fiction, film, and social science, the course will examine unique contemporary expressions of Christian identity, from global storefront Christianity to transnational Latino youth gangs.



RELI 376

The Global History of Christianity

Profs. John Turner, Lincoln Mullen and Mack Holt*          TR 10:30-11:45

This course offers a comparative examination of the many forms of global Christianity over the past two thousand years. Beginning with the ancient Jewish, Greek, and Roman contexts of early Christianity and continues through the present. Students will become familiar with Asian, African, Latin American, European, and North American Christianities, and explore  several themes, including: use of sacred texts and ritual experiences, the relationship between Christianity and politics, and cultural aspects such marriage and sexuality. Students will also consider Christianity as a series of global systems organized around missions, migration, trade, and warfare.

*co-taught with HIST 387-001




RELI 355       

SUFISM             Prof. Maria Dakake              TR 1:30-2:45

Come explore the mystical aspect of the Islamic tradition through the religious, literary, and cultural expressions of Sufism. Sufism is found across the globe, in all areas of the Islamic world, and this rich spiritual tradition has generated some of the most influential ethical, intellectual,, and artistic developments in the Islamic world. Students are introduced to Sufism as a spiritual perspective within Islam, and will read and discuss various genres of Sufi literature, including: spiritual biography and autobiography, mystical interpretations of the Qur’an, allegorical stories meant for spiritual instruction, and love poetry to God and the Prophet Muhammad.



RELI 379       

Law, Society, and Ethics in Islam

Prof. Abdulaziz Sachedina                   TR 12:00-1:15

Islamic Law, or shariah, is one of the most misunderstood concepts in contemporary discussions about Islam. Shariah constitutes a complete system of religious rituals, social norms, and ethical principles. This course will introduce students to the breadth of Islamic legal, social, and ethical traditions and practices which constitute what Muslims mean by shariah. The course will examine the history and development of Islamic law, its rulings regarding ritual, commerce/economics, family law, and criminal law, as well as contemporary debates about the interaction of Islamic law with Western notions of human rights, democracy, secularization and globalization.




RELI 272

Islam       Prof. David Dakake                  MW 10:30-11:45

Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world, and is often in the news. Yet it remains deeply misunderstood. This course introduces students to the origins of Islam both as a faith and a civilization; to its legal, social, and ethical principles; and to the diverse cultural manifestations of this faith and its principles across both time and space. Students will also explore Islam’s mystical expressions, its sectarian diversity, and the changes brought about by its encounter with modernity.




RELI 313


Prof. Prabhavati Reddy            MW 3:00-4:15

Hinduism can be understood as a comprehensive body of many distinct yet interrelated religious traditions. This course will examine the thematic and historical development of Hinduism, the classical foundations of Hindu theistic traditions and the medieval developments of sainthood and vernacular literature.  We will also explore the revivals and reinventions of Hinduism in post-colonial India as well as the global understanding of Hinduism in the context of yoga and in diaspora religious communities and practices.



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RELI 314

Chinese Philosophies and Religious Traditions

Prof. Young-chan Ro            TR 10:30-11:45

This course introduces students to the major religious traditions and philosophical themes of China including Confucianism, Taoism, and Chinese Buddhism and Neo-Confucianism. Examines foundation of Chinese world view and spirituality by investigating diverse religious traditions that have created tensions and harmony among them.




RELI 330

Religion, Fantasy and Imagination

Prof. John Burns                     MW 1:30-2:45

Through the wardrobe to Narnia, from the Shire across Middle Earth to Mount Doom, and up and down the moving staircases of Hogwarts, this course will visit the popular and highly successful fantasy worlds of C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien and J. K. Rowling. We will explore the religious themes that inform and give depth to the the alternative realities of these engaging works of literary fantasy, from the quest for meaning and salvation, to the possibility of forgiveness and redemption, to the struggle between forces of light and darkness.



RELI 381        

Beginnings of Christianity

Prof. Whitney Shiner   TR 3:00-4:15

How did a small town carpenter get himself executed for treason? How did the experience of a spiritual Jesus replace the teachings of Jesus as the center of Christian concerns? How did the variety of early Christian beliefs develop from that experience, and why did the only one that claimed continuity with Judaism win out? How did the spiritual alternative to the power of the emperor become the foundation for the continuation of the emperor cult? Early Christianity may not be what you think.



RELI 364

Religion and Law in the U.S.

Prof. John Farina      MW 1:30-2:45

Can Evangelical Christians like David Green and his family choose not to offer birth control to employees of their Hobby Lobby stores, which is required by the Federal Government to be part of all health plans? Can Muslim Abdul Maalik Muhammad, an inmate in an Arkansas state prison grow a long beard for religious purposes even though it violates prison rules? Is a citizen-led prayer at the start of a town meeting in Greece, NY a violation of the Establishment of Religion Clause? These are some of the issues addressed in Religion and Law in the U.S. In this course, you will study Supreme Court decisions on the Free Exercise and Establishment of Religion clause and become an expert in the current law on religion. If you are thinking of law school, this course will teach you how to read a case and do legal analysis.



RELI 490/RELI 632

Comparative Study of Religion: World Religions in Conflict and Dialogue

Prof. Randi Rashkover               M 4:30-7:10

Contemporary worldwide global conflicts often involve religious communities, beliefs and participants. But what positive role can religious traditions play in resolving these conflicts? Should conflict resolution strategies steer clear of religious resources or are the resources of religious traditions required to effect real and sustainable forms of peace? This course will examine a range of approaches to conflict resolution including both strategies that delimit the participation of religious adherents, and those that recommend the direct engagement of faith leaders, textual sources, and communities.



RELI 591

Approaches to the Study of Islam

Prof. Abdulaziz Sachedina                          T 4:30-7:10

In this course, Dr. Sachedina, an internationally recognized scholar of Islam, provides a rigorous introduction to theoretical and methodological issues in Islamic studies, preparing graduate students to undertake more advanced study and research in the field. Students will become familiar with various approaches to the study of Islamic texts; Islamic theology, law and ethics; and the history of Islamic intellectual and religious developments.


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