Dr. David Shefferman
Chair of the Department
Religion is everywhere. It is a vital force in human experience and bears critical historical, cultural and political importance. Rooted in Manhattan College’s Lasallian identity, the Religious Studies Department prepares students to live in the twenty-first century by providing a person-centered education that examines the dynamic ways that religion and religious traditions shape culture, values, relationships and social structures.. As part of this mission, the department embraces the college’s New York City location, and offers students the opportunity to take advantage of all that a global city has to offer. The department explores the power and persistence of religion in a global context by providing courses on specific religious traditions as well as on issues that span cultures and contexts; by producing quality scholarship in both religious studies and theology; and by actively engaging in the life of the college, the broader academic community, and the world at large.
Instruction in the Department of Religious Studies promotes the mission of Manhattan College by providing a contemporary, person-centered educational experience characterized by high academic standards, reflection on faith, values, and ethics, and lifelong career preparation. These goals are accomplished through our nine-credit requirement for all students that includes:
- One course that introduces the study of religion as an academic discipline and global phenomenon: RELS 110.
- One course that explores the riches of the Catholic intellectual tradition: any course chosen from RELS 200-299 (Elective Group A)
- One course that raises awareness of global and/or contemporary issues: any course chosen from RELS 300-399 (Elective Group B)
Our goals for majors and minors include an ability to critically read and analyze religious texts, a facility with the methods of the academic study of religion, a familiarity with specific religious traditions, and an understanding of the role that religion plays in contemporary life. The introductory course focuses on a particular theme while introducing students to some of the research tools used in the academic study of religion. A Catholic Studies concentration is offered and/or an interdisciplinary minor. Students can elect to take cross-listed courses in other departments. In addition, students may write a 6-credit honors thesis for departmental honors recognition.
Students majoring in Religious Studies ordinarily complete: 1) RELS 110 – The Nature and Experience of Religion; 2) 15 credits in courses numbered 200 and above (with at least one from Elective Group A and at least one from Elective Group B); 3) 12 credits at the 400-level. These courses are selected in consultation with the Department Chair. The elective courses will ordinarily include at least 1 course from each of the following areas of study:
- Biblical studies
- Christian theology
- World religious traditions
A minimum grade of C is required for credit toward the major.
Please note: Students intending to major must register with the Department Chair.
Requirements for a Minor in Religious Studies
Students minoring in Religious Studies must complete 1) RELS 110 – The Nature and Experience of Religion; 2) 3 credits from Elective Group A; 3) 3 credits from Elective Group B; 4) 3 credits at the 400 level; and 5) 3 credits in any additional RELS course.
Please note: Students intending to minor must register with the Department Chair.
Concentration in Catholic Studies
A student who majors or minors in Religious Studies may choose to concentrate on the Catholic tradition. This concentration focuses on Catholic beliefs, religious practices, moral teachings, and attitudes to other religious traditions, both in terms of the historical development of Catholicism and as subjects of contemporary discussion and debate. An academic and critical program, the Concentration in Catholic Studies aims at providing the interested student with an understanding of the diversity and richness of the Catholic tradition. The School of Liberal Arts also offers an interdisciplinary minor in Catholic Studies.
Those majoring in Religious Studies who wish to pursue the Concentration in Catholic Studies must complete 1) RELS 110 – The Nature and Experience of Religion; 2) 3 credits from Elective Group B; 3) 12 credits from Elective Group A; and 4) 12 credits at the 400-level.
Those minoring in Religious Studies who wish to pursue the Concentration in Catholic Studies must complete 1) RELS 110 – The Nature and Experience of Religion; 2) 3 credits from Elective Group B; 3) 6 credits from Elective Group A; and 4) 3 credits at the 400-level.
Religious Studies Honors Thesis
Both majors and those completing a minor with a 3.5 or greater cumulative index are eligible to develop a year-long independent research project under the supervision of a major reader and a second reader. In fall semester, the student registers for RELS 481 Religious Studies Honors Thesis. In the spring, the student will present a completed and revised honors thesis RELS 482 Honors Thesis II to the readers. Upon the successful completion of this process, the Religious Studies Department will award the student with honors recognition.
Courses Meeting the College Religious Studies Requirements
Elective Group A: Catholic Studies
This requirement is usually met in the sophomore year. In addition to the following courses, a few courses offered by other departments also meet the Catholic Studies requirement. These include ART 260 Monasticism and the Arts and MUSC 240 Catholic Mass and its Music. Students should check with their advisors for a list of additional courses.
|RELS 200||Special Topic: in Religion||3|
|RELS 202||U.S. Latino/A Catholicism||3|
|RELS 204||Religion and Social Justice||3|
|RELS 205||Urban America and Catholic Social Teaching||3|
|RELS 206||Understanding the Bible||3|
|RELS 207||Central Themes New Testament||3|
|RELS 212||Catholic Traditions of Spain||3|
|RELS 213||Catholic Thought||3|
|RELS 216||Saints and Catholic Imagination||3|
|RELS 218||The Bible & Film||3|
|RELS 219||Self and Other||3|
|RELS 220||Vatican II||3|
|RELS 221||The Psalms & Catholic Worship||3|
|RELS 225||Contemporary Catholicism||3|
|RELS 226||Contemporary Catholic Theologians||3|
|RELS 227||The Gospel of John||3|
|RELS 231||Eastern Christianity||3|
|RELS 232||Catholic Moral Theology||3|
|RELS 233||Contemporary Christian Ethics||3|
|RELS 235||Reformation Theology||3|
|RELS 238||Theologies Of Liberation||3|
|RELS 243||Early Christian Thought||3|
|RELS 244||The Catholic Mystics||3|
|RELS 245||Medieval Christian Thought||3|
|RELS 254||Catholic Social Teaching||3|
Prerequisite for all 400-level courses: Open only to Religious Studies majors and minors or by permission of instructor.
Elective Group B: Global Studies and Contemporary Issues
|RELS 206||Understanding the Bible||3|
|RELS 218||The Bible & Film||3|
|RELS 231||Eastern Christianity||3|
|RELS 255||Introduction to Peace and Justice Studies||3|
|RELS 300||Special Topic||3|
|RELS 302||Religion and Spanish Culture||3|
|RELS 306||Central Themes in the Hebrew Scriptures||3|
|RELS 310||Religion & The Holocaust||3|
|RELS 312||Muslims in America||3|
|RELS 321||Psychology & Religion||3|
|RELS 333||Non-Violent Revolution||3|
|RELS 336||Native American Religions||3|
|RELS 337||The American Religious Experience||3|
|RELS 342||Islam and Politics||3|
|RELS 351||God And Evil||3|
|RELS 353||African Traditional Religion||3|
|RELS 354||Buddhism: Its Development and Interpretation||3|
|RELS 357||Religions of China & East Asia||3|
|RELS 358||Religions of India||3|
|RELS 359||Afro-Caribbean Religions||3|
|RELS 361||Yoga: Philosophy, Praxis, and Art||3|
|RELS 362||Ethics in the Workplace||3|
|RELS 363||Religious Faith and the Arts||3|
|RELS 364||Comparative Religion||3|
|RELS 366||Religion and Contemporary Art||3|
|RELS 367||The Bible In American Culture||3|
|RELS 372||Religion and Science||3|
|RELS 373||Death as a Fact of Life||3|
|RELS 374||Women in Western Religion||3|
|RELS 375||Religion and the Body||3|
|RELS 376||Religion and the Media||3|
|RELS 377||Religion and Environmentalism||3|
|RELS 378||Religion in New York||3|
|RELS 379||Religion and Popular Culture||3|
|RELS 381||Religious Dimensions of Peace||3|
|RELS 390||Sexuality and the Sacred||3|
|RELS 399||Criminal Justice Ethics||3|
|RELS 470||Religious Studies Seminar||3|
|RELS 480||Religious Studies Tutorial *||3|
|RELS 481||Religious Studies Honors Thesis *||3|
|RELS 482||Honors Thesis II||3|
Prerequisite for all 400-level courses: Open only to Religious Studies majors and minors or by permission of instructor.
RELS 110. The Nature and Experience of Religion. 3 Credits.
This course is an introduction to religion as a human phenomenon and its transcendent elements, including contemporary approaches to the problem of religious beliefs and faith, a study of the problems of religious language, myth, symbolism and ritual, and the relations between religion and contemporary culture.
RELS 152. Nature & Experience of Religion-FYS. 3 Credits.
This course is an introduction to religion as a human phenomenon and its transcendent elements, including contemporary approaches to the problem of religious beliefs and faith, a study of the problems of religious language, myth, symbolism and ritual, and the relations between religion and contemporary culture. The course follows a learning-through-writing approach.
RELS 161. The Nature and Experience of Religion: Veterans' Stress Reduction Program. 3 Credits.
Religion as a human phenomenon and its transcendent elements. Contemporary approaches to the problem of religious beliefs and faith. A study of the problems of religious language, myth, symbolism and ritual. The relations between religion and culture with special reference to contemporary questions. Offered every semester specifically for Veterans' Stress Reduction Program.
RELS 200. Special Topic: in Religion. 3 Credits.
RELS 202. U.S. Latino/A Catholicism. 3 Credits.
This course explores the phenomenon of U.S. Latino/a Catholicism through an investigation of its history, figures, themes, and current controversies. It examines how Latino/a theology articulates itself as an explicitly contextual theology that accounts for the role of popular religiosity and devotion, race, class, and gender in its thought. Pre-requisite: RELS 110 or RELS 152 or RELS 161.
RELS 204. Religion and Social Justice. 3 Credits.
A study of the role of Catholic social movements in the economic, political, and cultural life of New York as interpreted through biblical insight and Roman Catholic social teaching. Topics include charities, the Catholic Worker, labor issues, Wall Street, inner-city churches, and the United Nations. Pre-requisite: RELS 110 or RELS 152 or RELS 161.
RELS 205. Urban America and Catholic Social Teaching. 3 Credits.
This is an interdisciplinary, service-learning course based upon sociological, political science, and economic analysis of urban poverty. These methods, combined with reflections on Catholic social teaching, provide the framework for student-volunteer work at various Bronx-based community organizations. Pre-requisite: RELS 110 or RELS 152 or RELS 161.
RELS 206. Understanding the Bible. 3 Credits.
A study of how the Bible was formed and how to read it, including the use of historical and critical methods to examine texts, authorship, literary forms, and transmission through manuscripts and translations. Pre-requisite: RELS 110 or RELS 152 or RELS 161.
RELS 207. Central Themes New Testament. 3 Credits.
This course is an historical study of the development of the Christian scriptures. Topics include the history of the earliest Christian communities, the unique messages of the evangelists, and some of the methods used to understand their writings. Pre-requisite: RELS 110 or RELS 152 or RELS 161.
RELS 209. Paul. 3 Credits.
RELS 210. Jesus. 3 Credits.
An examination of the historical Jesus based upon recent critical scholarship of the New Testament. Topics include the life of Jesus, the role of Jesus in historical Christianity, and the implications of an historical approach for a contemporary Christology. Pre-requisite: RELS 110 or RELS 152 or RELS 161.
RELS 212. Catholic Traditions of Spain. 3 Credits.
An on-site experience based in and around Spain's capital region as part of the Manhattan-in-Madrid study abroad program. Through a combination of classroom meetings and directed excursions, the course explores the foundational but diverse presence of Catholicism in the history of Spain as well as in its contemporary culture. Pre-requisite: RELS 110 or RELS 152 or RELS 161.
RELS 213. Catholic Thought. 3 Credits.
An investigation of the Christian tradition through a survey of its major themes, including the nature and sources of Christian belief, Christology, ecclesiology, spirituality, and theological anthropology. Pre-requisite: RELS 110 or RELS 152 or RELS 161.
RELS 214. Dante. 3 Credits.
An introduction to the theological thought of the great medieval poet, Dante Alighieri. Careful attention will be paid to The New Life and Inferno, as well as to Dante's political thought. Pre-requisite: RELS 110 or RELS 152 or RELS 161.
RELS 216. Saints and Catholic Imagination. 3 Credits.
The course examines the function of holy men and women within their religious traditions and their ethical perspectives on the contemporary world. Included will be a study of the cult of Saints, hagiography, and Saints of our own time. Pre-requisite: RELS 110 or RELS 152 or RELS 161.
RELS 217. The Christian Eucharist. 3 Credits.
Jesus' use of the meal to symbolize the Kingdom of God; the fidelity of the early Church to the example of Jesus; the Eucharist and the Protestant Reformation; and modern ecumenical convergence. Prerequisites: RELS 110 or RELS 152 or RELS 161.
RELS 218. The Bible & Film. 3 Credits.
This course will consider the historical and literary aspects of selected biblical narratives, as well as their interpretations in contemporary film. It will also discuss biblical themes, expressions, terms, and types that have become part of American culture and are sources used by the writers and directors. This course focuses primarily on film as a form of the long history of biblical interpretation, not on film theory. Prerequisites: RELS 110 or RELS 152 or RELS 161.
RELS 219. Self and Other. 3 Credits.
This course is a study of human existence through scripture, classical church doctrines, and contemporary theology and philosophy. Many of the issues explored in this course intersect with questions of difference, including religious conflict and diversity; race, gender, and environmental degradation; and the impact of electronic technology on interpersonal relationships. Pre-requisite: RELS 110 or RELS 152 or RELS 161.
RELS 220. Vatican II. 3 Credits.
This course investigates the history, context, major figures, and varied themes of the Second Vatican Council. It examines the conciliar documents and the circumstances that surrounded their production in an effort to understand some of the complexity of contemporary Catholicism. The course will also consider the major conciliar documents as they relate to matters that deal with the Church itself, with the relationship of the Church to the world, and with the relationship of the Church to other religious traditions. Pre-requisite: RELS 110 or RELS 152 or RELS 161.
RELS 221. The Psalms & Catholic Worship. 3 Credits.
This course supplies a form-critical introduction to the Book of Psalms, followed by an investigation into the historical and contemporary use of the Psalms in the liturgies of the Catholic Church. Pre-requisite: RELS 110 or RELS 152 or RELS 161.
RELS 225. Contemporary Catholicism. 3 Credits.
An exploration of the spirit, development, and new insights of the Catholic Church in the post-Vatican II era. Doctrinal, moral, ecumenical, and social questions will be examined. Pre-requisite: RELS 110 or RELS 152 or RELS 161.
RELS 226. Contemporary Catholic Theologians. 3 Credits.
An analysis of the theological presuppositions of contemporary authors; including the methodology of research (hermeneutics) as a basis for modern thinking about Catholicism and the role of human and psychological premises underlying understanding of the mystery of Christ. Pre-requisite: RELS 110 or RELS 152 or RELS 161.
RELS 227. The Gospel of John. 3 Credits.
RELS 231. Eastern Christianity. 3 Credits.
A study of the separated and united Churches of Eastern Europe and the Middle East, including their history, expansion, preservation of Christian heritage, and doctrinal and disciplinary affinity with the Western or Roman Church. The course generally includes a field trip. Pre-requisite: RELS 110 or RELS 152 or RELS 161.
RELS 232. Catholic Moral Theology. 3 Credits.
This course offers a historical, methodological, and topical survey of the moral life as understood in the Roman Catholic tradition. Students will engage the thought of major historical figures, such as Augustine, Thomas Aquinas and Alphonsus Liguori, as well as contemporary moral theologians. Attention will be paid to the way various methodologies shape the understanding of contemporary moral issues. . Pre-requisite: RELS 110 or RELS 152 or RELS 161.
RELS 233. Contemporary Christian Ethics. 3 Credits.
This course engages new approaches to biblical and church authority in contemporary Christian Ethics. Topics include new options in systematic ethics (models, method, moral absolutes, and exceptions), and sin and conscience in contemporary ethical thought. The theoretical material will be illustrated by concrete reference to specific moral issues. Pre-requisite: RELS 110 or RELS 152 or RELS 161.
RELS 234. Contemporary Christian Ethics. 3 Credits.
New approaches to biblical and church authority in contemporary Christian Ethics. New options in systematic ethics: models, method, moral absolutes, and exceptions. Sin and conscience in contemporary ethical thought. The theoretical material will be illustrated by concrete reference to specific moral issues.
RELS 235. Reformation Theology. 3 Credits.
An investigation of the concept of reform in Christian thought; the Reformation of the sixteenth century, including its major figures, Luther, Calvin, and Zwingli; and the role of the Catholic Reformation of the Council of Trent. Pre-requisite: RELS 110 or RELS 152 or RELS 161.
RELS 238. Theologies Of Liberation. 3 Credits.
An examination of the theologies of liberation in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and among Afro-Americans and women in the United States. Topics include dialogue among these groups, the responses of first-world theologians, the relation between religion and politics, and the place of activism in the life of a religious person. Pre-requisite: RELS 110 or RELS 152 or RELS 161.
RELS 243. Early Christian Thought. 3 Credits.
A study of the formation of doctrines, especially those concerning God, Christ, the world, history, and their mutual relationships. Attention will also be devoted to the philosophical and political influences that shaped Christianity from the first to the eighth Century. Pre-requisite: RELS 110 or RELS 152 or RELS 161.
RELS 244. The Catholic Mystics. 3 Credits.
A study of the mystical experience, in both its theory and practice, through the lives and writings of the great Christian mystics, past and present. Ample exposure to primary sources and field trips to mystical and contemplative centers constitute the core of this course. Pre-requisite: RELS 110 or RELS 152 or RELS 161.
RELS 245. Medieval Christian Thought. 3 Credits.
A study of the history of Christian thought concerning the nature of humanity and the universe from Augustine through the Scholastics to the eve of the Reformation. Medieval political, theological, liturgical, and artistic expressions of Christendom will be examined. Includes a field trip. Pre-requisite: RELS 110 or RELS 152 or RELS 161.
RELS 254. Catholic Social Teaching. 3 Credits.
A theological and ethical investigation of selected moral problems of our time, such as truth in government, violence, economic injustice, and racism, in addition to other moral issues. Pre-requisite: RELS 110 or RELS 152 or RELS 161.
RELS 255. Introduction to Peace and Justice Studies. 3 Credits.
An introduction to the nature, scope, and methodology of Peace and Justice Studies as well as an exploration of some major contemporary problems that threaten peaceful and just relations between groups, nations or individuals. Prerequisites: RELS 110 or RELS 152 or RELS 161.
RELS 256. Catholic Mass and Its Music. 3 Credits.
The course explores the structure of the Roman Mass, the role of music in faith formation, the major reforms in the Church's history; their cause and results, and the musical culture of the Church following the Second Vatican Council. Students will demonstrate understanding of Catholicism, including its worldview, ethics, history, text, and/or intercultural relations historically and at present. Pre-requisite RELS 110 or RELS 152 or RELS 161.
RELS 300. Special Topic. 3 Credits.
An intensive study of a particular religious tradition or topic from within the fields of global studies or contemporary culture. The subject will vary from semester to semester. Pre-requisite: RELS 110 or RELS 152 or RELS 161.
RELS 302. Religion and Spanish Culture. 3 Credits.
An on-site experience based in and around Spain's capital region as part of the Manhattan-in-Madrid study abroad program. Through a combination of classroom meetings and directed excursions, the course explores the complex but foundational role of religion in the history of Spain as well as in its contemporary culture. Particular topics as well as course structure (semester-long or two-week intensive) may vary across offerings. Pre-requisite: RELS 110 or RELS 152 or RELS 161.
RELS 306. Central Themes in the Hebrew Scriptures. 3 Credits.
This course explores important themes in the Hebrew Bible (known to Christians as the Old Testament) through analysis of religious, archaeological, literary and historical courses. Pre-requisite: RELS 110 or RELS 152 or RELS 161.
RELS 310. Religion & The Holocaust. 3 Credits.
This course explores the question of faith post-holocaust, and the moral lessons that can be learned from the Shoah. Using theological and political approaches, the course will analyze the impact of the Holocaust (1938-1945) on Judaism, Christianity, and Islam in terms of philosophy-theology, subsequent placement in Western society, and the effect that the Holocaust has had on Western and Global society. Pre-requisite: RELS 110 or RELS 152 or RELS 161.
RELS 312. Muslims in America. 3 Credits.
Examines the role of Muslims in American life after the 9/11 destruction of the World Trade Center. The course examines the origins of Islam in the United States, the ethnic and religious diversity of American Muslims, conflicts about gender relations and women's issues, contemporary debates about Islam's role in the public sphere, and the spirituality of American Muslims. Pre-requisite: RELS 110 or RELS 152 or RELS 161.
RELS 314. Hinduism. 3 Credits.
Hinduism is one of the world's oldest major religions and one of the world's newest major religions; its name barely 300 years old. So, it it old or is it new?
What is Hinduism and who defines it will be the central questions that this course will investigate.
Prerequisites: RELS 110 or RELS 152 or RELS 161.
RELS 316. Shakespeare in the Prison. 3 Credits.
In this course we will explore dimensions of the most important ethical issues in the area of criminal justice through an analysis of plays by William Shakespeare and a selection of articles in the disciplines of criminal justice and theology. It will show how the social sciences and the humanities can help us focus creatively and humanely on the significant challenges we face as a society in our current practice of incarceration and punishment.
Prerequisite: RELS 110.
RELS 318. Black Women, God & Justice. 3 Credits.
Interrogating the nature of justice in America and its Christian theological foundations, this course explores American injustice as a religious problem and the implications of categories of race, gender and class on perceptions of guilt, innocence, worth, humanity, solidarity and love through the precarious position of black women in American political institutions, criminal justice, economic policies and the like. Students will analyze contemporary case studies alongside womanist responses to these phenomena and how they might be incorporated into an ethic of solidarity and justice for America writ large. Prerequisite: RELS 110.
RELS 320. Race, Religion & Resistance. 3 Credits.
This course is an examination of race and its intersection with theology and philosophy of religion, and contemporary and historic social justice movements in America, particularly as it informs the creation of the innovative and contemporary expression of Christian theology known as Black Theology. As a formal theology, Black theology emerged in America during the Civil Rights Movement as a response to traditional Protestant and Catholic Christianity’s inability to address the problem of racial oppression and injustice in America. It has since spawned and informed other forms of liberation theology and resistance movements around the world, like Womanism, Minjung, South African Black Consciousness, Muslim Womanism, and Native American Liberation theology.
RELS 321. Psychology & Religion. 3 Credits.
n examination of ways in which psychology has both broadened and challenged the understanding of religion; study of such topics as self, psyche, symbolism, psychotherapy, and spiritual methods. Pre-requisite :RELS 110 or RELS 152 or RELS 161.
RELS 323. Womanist Ethics. 3 Credits.
This class will explore the particularities of black women’s historical and contemporary moral situation, as well as offer an introduction into the sources, methodologies and aims of womanist (black women’s) ethics as a practice of survival. Prerequisite: RELS 110.
RELS 324. Muslims & the Holocaust. 3 Credits.
This class explores the role that Muslims played during the Holocaust, with special attention to North Africa. The class describes how the Holocaust intersects with colonialism and narratives about Jews and Muslims. Prerequisite: RELS 110.
RELS 333. Non-Violent Revolution. 3 Credits.
A study of the theory and practice of non-violence as found in select contemporary leaders, including Mohandas K. Ghandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., Cesar Chavez, Vinoba Bhave, Danilo Dolce, and Helder Camara. The course also examines the theological and ethical foundations of non-violent revolution. Pre-requisite: RELS 110 or RELS 152 or RELS 161.
RELS 336. Native American Religions. 3 Credits.
A study of the principal rites, stories, and religious symbols of the indigenous communities of North America through the study of selected tribes or nations. Various research approaches and popular media portrayal of the "Indians" will also be discussed. Pre-requisite: RELS 110 or RELS 152 or RELS 161.
RELS 337. The American Religious Experience. 3 Credits.
A survey of the rich history as well as varied landscape of religion in the United States. Considerations include the notable variety of traditions new and old in addition to recurring patterns of an enduring “civil religion” at work in American culture. Pre-requisite: RELS 110 or RELS 152 or RELS 161.
RELS 341. Judaism. 3 Credits.
An introductory survey of post-biblical Judaism. Topics include rabbinic texts and the emergence of rabbinic Judaism, Jewish holidays and practices, contemporary Judaism, and the religious aspects of the nation of Israel. Pre-requisite: RELS 110 or RELS 152 or RELS 161.
RELS 342. Islam and Politics. 3 Credits.
An investigation into the relationship between religious and political thought of the peoples of Islam. Selected Quranic texts and Hadiths will be studied for their political content. The history of political Islam and the contemporary Islamic scene throughout the world will be featured elements of the course.
Pre-requisite: RELS 110 or RELS 152 or RELS 161.
RELS 349. Women and Islam. 3 Credits.
This course explores the appearance and oppression of Muslim women that have been the focus of intense and polemical debate in the Muslim world. In Muslim societies and in Western media the image of Muslim women has been taken as a focal example of the perceived failings of the Islamic tradition. We will examine the complexity of the messages relating to gender in Islamic societies and the Qur'an.
Prerequisites: RELS 110 or RELS 152 or RELS 161.
RELS 351. God And Evil. 3 Credits.
Who is God? Why is there evil in the world? The course will explore these fundamental religious questions by examining the relationship between differing concepts of God and evil. Course material will include classical texts and contemporary Jewish, Christian, and Pagan writings. Pre-requisite: RELS 110 or RELS 152 or RELS 161.
RELS 353. African Traditional Religion. 3 Credits.
This course is a study of present-day religious beliefs, ceremonies, and practices in Africa. The course engages the religious worldviews of Islam, Christianity, and traditional African religions, with special attention to issues of race and gender. Pre-requisite: RELS 110 or RELS 152 or RELS 161.
RELS 354. Buddhism: Its Development and Interpretation. 3 Credits.
A study of the principles of Buddhist thought together with a reading of various Theravada and Mahayana texts. The course will address problems of philosophical interpretation, historical development and cultural transformation. Pre-requisite: RELS 110 or RELS 152 or RELS 161.
RELS 355. Islam. 3 Credits.
An introductory survey of the origins and religious teachings of Islam, with special attention to the Islamic views of providence, revelation, worship, and moral obedience. Community, social justice, and revolutionary thought in the contemporary Islamic world will also be discussed. Pre-requisite: RELS 110 or RELS 152 or RELS 161.
RELS 357. Religions of China & East Asia. 3 Credits.
A survey of the religious traditions of the cultures of the Far East. Examines Confucianism, Taoism, and Far Eastern forms of Buddhism as well as the cultural background, beliefs, practices, art, and literature of these religions. Pre-requisite: RELS 110 or RELS 152 or RELS 161.
RELS 358. Religions of India. 3 Credits.
A survey of the religions that began in India: Hinduism, Jainism, and Buddhism. Traces the historical development of these religions from the time of the Vedas to Mahatma Gandhi. The survey will focus on the religious beliefs, practices, and literature of these different groups. Pre-requisite: RELS 110 or RELS 152 or RELS 161.
RELS 359. Afro-Caribbean Religions. 3 Credits.
An interdisciplinary survey of major creole traditions—including Santeria, Vodun, Rastafari, and Obeah—that developed through the unique encounter of West African, Christian, Native American, and Asian elements in the plantation societies of the Caribbean. A critical assessment of the cosmologies, rituals, and theologies of these traditions, as well as their implications for enhancing the academic study of religion, forms the focus of the course. Pre-requisite: RELS 110 or RELS 152 or RELS 161.
RELS 361. Yoga: Philosophy, Praxis, and Art. 3 Credits.
A cross-cultural and interdisciplinary introduction to the nature of yoga, including its philosophical underpinnings, iconographical representations and practices. Materials will be drawn from Hinduism, the Buddhisms of Tibet and Japan, and Carmelite Christianity. In addition, contemporary neuropsychological approaches will be explored. The course will be enhanced by field trips that explore the art and practices of these areas. Pre-requisite: RELS 110 or RELS 152 or RELS 161.
RELS 362. Ethics in the Workplace. 3 Credits.
An investigation of the ethical challenges, from the personal to the global, that arise in the context of the workplace. Texts will feature case studies and analysis of issues ranging from honesty and fidelity to consumption patterns, organizational structure, and corporate ethos. Students will be introduced to theories in both philosophical and theological ethics that will provide critical tools to help determine a coherent and defensible ethic for their working lives. Pre-requisite: RELS 110 or RELS 152 or RELS 161.
RELS 363. Religious Faith and the Arts. 3 Credits.
An exploration of the ways in which religious faith is expressed through the arts, including the visual, performing, and plastic arts. Some of the course will take place off-campus in the theaters, museums, concert halls, and churches of New York City. Pre-requisite: RELS 110 or RELS 152 or RELS 161.
RELS 364. Comparative Religion. 3 Credits.
This course will examine contemporary issues arising within religious studies that allow us to compare religions. Material will be drawn from both Western and Asian religious traditions; topics will focus on such issues as God, mysticism, evil, creation, and/or salvation. Pre-requisite: RELS 110 or RELS 152 or RELS 161.
RELS 366. Religion and Contemporary Art. 3 Credits.
A study of the ways in which contemporary artists explore sacred themes, such as the construction of utopia, the development of community, and the search for transcendence. The course follows various artists and movements of the 20th and 21st centuries, and the ways in which they reflect upon modern religious life. The course shows how the sacred has remained a relevant concern for artists from modern to postmodern art. Pre-requisite: RELS 110 or RELS 152 or RELS 161.
RELS 367. The Bible In American Culture. 3 Credits.
This course considers the place of the Bible in American public life. The course illustrates how the Bible has generated some enduring American values and how it has helped Americans form a sense of themselves through its role in social movements, politics, and the arts. Emphasis will be on the place of religion in public life, including different understandings of the principle of church and state. Pre-requisite: RELS 110 or RELS 152 or RELS 161.
RELS 372. Religion and Science. 3 Credits.
A study of historical and contemporary interactions between religion and science, with particular reference to their political implications and ethical ramifications. Themes include biotechnology, environmentalism, the teaching of evolution, and digital technologies. Pre-requisite: RELS 110 or RELS 152 or RELS 161.
RELS 373. Death as a Fact of Life. 3 Credits.
An examination of the religious, legal, medical, and psychological questions concerning death. Topics include the hope for life after death and the moral aspects of care for the dying and bereaved, cessation of treatment, euthanasia, and suicide.. Pre-requisite: RELS 110 or RELS 152 or RELS 161.
RELS 374. Women in Western Religion. 3 Credits.
An exploration of the field of women's studies in religion as it intersects with new understandings of God, text, and tradition emerging within Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. The course will look at the roles of women within these three traditions and consider the question of how people bring about religious change. Pre-requisite: RELS 110 or RELS 152 or RELS 161.
RELS 375. Religion and the Body. 3 Credits.
This course considers the role of the body in the religious imagination. Themes vary from semester to semester, but can include 1) everyday practices of eating, exercising, bathing, dressing, piercing, and tattooing, 2) traditional religious approaches to the body (especially, but not limited to, Christianity), and/or 3) contemporary transhumanist thought. Pre-requisite: RELS 110 or RELS 152 or RELS 161.
RELS 376. Religion and the Media. 3 Credits.
A critical investigation of the significant roles of religion and media in modern life. Along with a variety of theoretical perspectives, the course examines a series of case studies that range across religious traditions and media formats. Special attention is given to analysis of how religious ideas and practices appear in the news media and in popular entertainment, as well as to reflection on the religious parameters of media uses like television viewing and online gaming. Pre-requisite: RELS 110 or RELS 152 or RELS 161.
RELS 377. Religion and Environmentalism. 3 Credits.
Introduces the history, ideas and practices of modern environmentalism by examinig references to and invacations of religion in debates about the environment from the late 18th century to the present. The course focuses especially on the emergence of environmentalism as a broad-based philosophical, political and cultural movement and thus gives special attention to careful analysis of the place of religion in foundational environmentalist works of the second half of the 20th century. Pre-requisites: RELS 110 or RELS 152 or RELS 161.
RELS 378. Religion in New York. 3 Credits.
An examination of the central place of religion in the history and culture of New York as well as of the city's and state's foundational roles in broader movements of religious and theological innovation. Particular topics as well as course structure may vary across offerings. Prerequisites: RELS 110 or RELS 152 or RELS 161.
RELS 379. Religion and Popular Culture. 3 Credits.
A general or topic-specific examination of the influences of popular culture or religion as well as of the religious dimensions of contemporary literary, musical, visual, and/or other prevalent social practices. Prerequisites: RELS 110 or RELS 152 or RELS 161.
RELS 381. Religious Dimensions of Peace. 3 Credits.
A theological and ethical inquiry into the major Jewish and Christian responses to war: pacifism, just war, and crusade. Various religious anthropologies are considered as possible ethical bases for peace in today's world, and the course engages the contemporary relevance of Reinhold Niebuhr, Mohandas K. Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Cesar Chavez. Pre-requisite: RELS 110 or RELS 152 or RELS 161.
RELS 390. Sexuality and the Sacred. 3 Credits.
Explores some ways in which different religious traditions have perceived the relationship between sexuality and religion. Examines the religious roots of our own cultural attitudes toward sexuality and sex roles and looks at some contemporary attempts to rethink the relationships between sexuality and spirituality, and between women and men. Pre-requisites: RELS 110 or RELS 152 or RELS 161.
RELS 399. Criminal Justice Ethics. 3 Credits.
An investigation of the theological and ethical issues related to crime and punishment. Students will discuss questions of human nature, the purpose and meaning of confinement, the ethics of law and judgement, the role of mercy and forgiveness, and alternatives to prosecution and incarceration. In many cases, the course will be conducted at the jail on Rikers Island. Pre-requisites: RELS 110 or RELS 152 or RELS 161.
RELS 400. Special Topic. 3 Credits.
RELS 426. Contemporary Catholic Theologians. 3 Credits.
An analysis of the theological presuppositions of contemporary authors; the methodology of research (hermeneutics) as a basis for modern thinking about Catholicism; the role of human and psychological premises underlying understanding of the mystery of Christ.
RELS 470. Religious Studies Seminar. 3 Credits.
This course is an intensive study of an author, period, problem, or concern in a given religious tradition, or the comparative study of some aspect of several traditions. Topics vary from semester to semester. This seminar is open to Religious Studies majors and minors as well as to other interested students who have completed the nine-credit requirement in Religious Studies. Pre-requisites: RELS 110 or RELS 152 or RELS 161, completion of nine credits in RELS, and permission from the Chair of Religious Studies.
RELS 475. Internship. 3 Credits.
Students participate in an off-campus training experience closely related to their area of study. Frequent meetings with the internship advisor and a paper are required. Internships are arranged through the Center for Career Development and must be approved in advance by the chair and the Dean of the School of Arts. Open to majors only.
RELS 480. Religious Studies Tutorial. 3 Credits.
Individual study under the supervision of a member of the department with the permission of the Chair. Open only to juniors and seniors majoring in Religious Studies who meet the requirements set by the Chair.
RELS 481. Religious Studies Honors Thesis. 3 Credits.
The first semester of a two-semester honors thesis in Religious Studies. The honors thesis is written under a faculty advisor, who assists the student in developing research goals and selecting appropriate texts and research data. Available to Religious Studies majors with a 3.5 GPA. Permission of the department chair required.
RELS 482. Honors Thesis II. 3 Credits.
The second semester of a two-semester honors thesis in Religious Studies. The student continues the research project begun in RELS 481 and will write the honors thesis. Available to Religious Studies majors with a 3.5 GPA. Permission of the department chair required.