2020 - 2021
Theology is an attempt to understand ourselves and our world in relation to transcendent reality. It is simultaneously an attempt to state persuasively the claims of faith in relation to the controlling experiences of an era. The course will focus upon theological responses to issues like environmental deterioration, race and gender, violence and the death penalty. This course fulfills the Power and Justice (P) GE requirement.
Crosslisting: QS 281.
This course primarily focuses on religious ethics in our contemporary society. Students will explore diverse theories of justice and examine these theories in social realities at both domestic and global levels. Questioning how to become responsible citizens and discerning moral agents, students will contemplate possibilities to build community for peace and justice crossing religious differences. Topics include theories of justice, global economy, food, environmental ethics, race, gender, and sexuality. This course fulfills the Power and Justice (P) GE requirement.
An introduction to the comparative study of religion, involving case study surveys of several of the major religious traditions of the contemporary world. Guiding questions include: What does it mean to live within each tradition? What does one do? How does one view the world? To what extent is religion a matter of personal experience and to what extent a matter of social and cultural experience? How have people in these traditions balanced the pursuit of wisdom and the practice of compassion in their lives? How do we begin to study the world's religious traditions?
"Religions in India" is an introductory survey of the religious life of the South Asian subcontinent. The course provides an introduction to religious traditions in South Asia, including: Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism.
A historical and thematic survey of the Buddhist tradition from the time of Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha, until the present. Emphasis upon the ways in which Buddhist teachings and practices have interacted with and been changed by various cultures in Asia, and more recently in North America.
Crosslisting: EAST 105.
This course introduces students to the many conflicted attitudes and images around men, women, and sexuality found in the Bible, from the very different creations of Adam and Eve to Revelation's representation of the Roman Empire as the "whore" of Babylon; from the assertive and sexually suspicious female figures of Ruth and Rahab to Jesus' uncertain masculinity in accounts of his death. We will ask: does the Bible support heterosexuality and decry homosexuality? In addition to close, historically-oriented study of select biblical texts, students will be acquainted with core readings in contemporary gender theory. This course fulfills the Power and Justice (P) GE requirement.
Crosslisting: WGST 108/QS 108.
This course examines American religions from the pre-colonial period to the present. Why has religion in the United States always been energetic and diverse? What forms has this religious vitality taken? How does religion fit within the larger trajectory of American history? What is specifically American about the American religious experience? Exploring these questions will inevitably concern such important themes as race, immigration, gender, pluralism, and religious freedom.
A general category used only in the evaluation of transfer credit.
What makes religion ‘religion’? Why does one study religion in academic context? This course is designed for current and prospective majors and minors as well as those who are intellectually curious about religion to explore the various approaches to religion not only as an academic discipline, but also as category of human activity and experience. Students will have the opportunity to examine diverse theories and methods in religious and theological studies, to raise critical questions concerning the relationship between religion and society/culture, and to develop their own understanding of what “counts” as religion/religious. These theories and methods will be examined through the lens of the particular instructor within the department, whose area of expertise will guide the course content and illustrations. Through this course, students will better understand the history and relevance of the field of the religion, and the ways different scholars have theorized—and debated about—their object of study.
The premise of the course is that the metaphors we use for God are profoundly consequential. The ways we imagine God affect our understanding of ourselves and our society. We will explore how particular metaphors impact economic justice, the ecological crisis, history and human oppression as well as our personal lives.
The course is an inquiry into the nature of Judaism. The emphasis will be on the development of Rabbinic Judaism: Theology, History, and Rabbinic Literature.
Who are Asians and Asian-Americans in the 21st century's United States? What religions have they brought? How have they changed the ecology of our contemporary U.S. society? What issues are they facing? Particular attention goes to Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism and urban immigrant Christianities. Mandatory site-visits to immigrant religious organizations in Greater Columbus are required.
What does it mean to be "American" in the twenty-first century? Is it even possible for such a religiously diverse people to affirm a common identity of any substance? Today, citizens must negotiate among the often competing demands of religion, community, and nation. This course will examine how Americans have historically viewed religious diversity, consider theoretical approaches to religious pluralism, and explore how contemporary local conflicts illuminate just how religious does (not) and should (not) affect engaged, democratic citizenship.
An investigation of the religious value of nature in Christianity and Buddhism, particularly in America and Japan. We look at how people in these cultures have viewed the place of humanity within the world of nature, and the relationships among humanity, God and nature.
Crosslisting: ENVS 205.
As experiences, pain and healing would seem to be straightforward: something is broken or hurting, and is in need of fixing. But what is seen to be “broken” and how to “fix” it are always culturally and historically specific; and they change with time. What’s more, our diagnoses for suffering or illnesses (what we might think of as interruptions) often say as much about the cultural context and historical moment in which people live as they do about any strictly physiological or psychological experience. This course explores a range of themes around bodily wholeness and bodily breakdown in contemporary worlds and in the ancient world (including ancient Christian literature, ancient medical literature, and ancient practices around illness and healing). It asks how ancient people understood their symptoms and their illnesses in relationship to the larger social body and divine beings, comparing these notions with contemporary assumptions and practices. It tracks the way body, psyche and society are not always easily distinguished, and the way religion in the contemporary world figures, sometimes invisibly, in diagnosis and treatment. For example, we will explore depression as a symptom of socio-political life, tracking its history before the modern era, including its associations with “sin”; and we will observe how Christian religious morality framed and exacerbated the AIDS crisis. Lastly, we will engage in self-reflective writing about our own experiences with health, illness, and healing.
This course explores some of the ways different scholars have asked and attempted to answer the basic questions, What is religion? What is religious experience? Scholarly approaches include those of history, philosophy, theology, anthropology and psychology.
This course introduces students to the literary variety, historical circumstances, and cultural significances of the Bible. It treats the Bible as a collection of texts arising out of and used to make sense of the social worlds in which they were written. But a course about the Bible is never just about the Bible. As a foundational object and document for so many public social projects – including ones we might describe as “secular” – the Bible is much more than a religious book. It is an emblem of authority and power more generally, and the ways certain kinds of authorities (religious or otherwise), are often engaged less for their content than for what we imagine them to contain. So this course will regularly ask students to assess the fantasies and feelings that circulate around the Bible. Most significantly, students will practice ways to enter public conversations on the Bible, equipped with more nuanced historical and interpretive critical skills.
What we now have as the “New Testament” first appeared not as Christian nor even as “scripture,” but as texts interpreting Israelite traditions in the wake of Israel’s tenuous, subjected, or even annihilated status under the Roman empire. How did the New Testament become what it is now, the foundational documents of a dominant tradition? How does reading with deep historical attention to Israel’s history under Rome change what we think New Testament texts say? We will also be reading some “early Christian” texts that did not make it into the New Testament (The Gospel of Mary, The Gospel of Thomas, The Acts of Paul and Thecla), and asking how the New Testament came to be a collection that rendered the very Hebrew traditions composing it an “old” testament.
A study in the development of Christian teachings to the early Middle Ages. Changing concepts of Church Doctrine and the nature of the church, with its approach to human problems are studied.
This course will examine the history, theology, practices, and politics of the so-called "Christian Right" in America. In coming to appreciate the complexities of pentecostalism, fundamentalism, and evangelicalism, we'll look at megachurches, speaking in tongues, the feminism of submissive wives, creation science, and the commercialization of contemporary conservative Christianity.
One of the oldest surviving religions on the planet, what we call "Hinduism" is actually a complex of loosely related religious traditions that have been woven together by a shared geography and by historical circumstance. By reading primary texts--from the ancient Vedas and Puranas to the work of medieval poets and contemporary film makers--students will be invited into an encounter with the religious traditions and the world views that sprouted up in South Asia so long ago, and that continue to evolve even today.
This course explores the basic teachings and historical development of the most influential religious traditions and schools of thought in East Asia, including Confucianism, Taoism, Buddhism, and Shinto. Attention is given to classical texts, popular practice and the recent impact of Western culture on East Asian religion.
A study of new religious movements, cults, and sects in modern America, this course will investigate the sociological and religious dimensions of such fascinating phenomena as Satanism, occultism, polygamy, witchcraft, new age religion, and UFO worship. Special attention will be given to the social-structural origins of cults and sects, to the church-sect continuum, and to the variety of social relationships that exist between religious groups and the larger society. The Unification Church, popularly known as the Moonies, Jimmy Jones’ Peoples’ Temple, the Hare Krishna Movement, the Branch Davidians and Heaven’s Gate are among the many religious groups to be examined.
A historical and thematic survey of the beliefs and practices of the Muslim tradition from the time of the Prophet Muhammad to the present. Emphasis upon the ways that Islamic teachings and practices have interacted with, changed, and been changed by various cultures in Asia, Africa, Europe, and more recently North America.
This course explores two on-going global debates among academics, activists and policy-makers within the concept of human rights: (1) To what extent should human rights be limited to a narrow range of clearly defined individual rights, and to what extent should they be expanded to cover a larger range of individual and collective rights? (2) Are indigenous communities necessarily better environmental stewards, and so does the extension of rights to these communities lead to better environmental protection? This course fulfills the Power and Justice (P) and the Writing (W) GE requirement.
Crosslisting: INTL 250/ENVS 265.
What is faith community’s responsibility for society? What roles can be considered “proper” for the religious community to play in “seemingly” secular society? This course will explore various religious traditions’ responses to the social issues on both domestic and global level, including American foreign policy, Israel-Palestine relations, ecological crisis, racism, economic disparity, and sexual violence. The key moral principles drawn from multiple traditions are love, justice, and compassion. In light of these key principles, students will analyze complex social issues and delineate resolutions for the issues.
What is women's spiritual activism in our contemporary society? What can we learn from those who have struggled to bring gender equality and peace in human society? Is religion anti-feminist or feminism anti-religious? In spite of cultural, racial and religious diversity among women across the globe, women often share the similar stories of physical and psychological suffering caused by their institutionalized religions and societies. Many of these women also testify that their religions enabled them to resist injustice and to build up solidarity with others including men. This course invites the students to explore the spiritual journeys of the feminist activists---their struggles for justice for all humanity.
Crosslisting: WGST 227.
This course explores the connection between politics and religion among Black Americans and the role religion plays in the African-American quest for liberation. It also examines the cultural continuities between African traditional religions and Black religion in the United States. The course examines theological and ethical issues, such as the color of God and the moral justifiability of violent revolution. Students will be given an opportunity to study contemporary religious movements, such as Rastafarianism and the Nation of Islam, along with more traditional African sectarian practices such as voodoo and Santeria.
Crosslisting: BLST 228.
Writing and re-writing the story of the creation of the world was a common ancient practice, especially as people experienced new or increasingly difficult political and social circumstances. In fact, ancient people regularly used descriptions of the creation of the world to express their dissatisfaction with the world in which they lived, to reimagine it, or to justify or critique the powers-that-be. This course reads a breadth of ancient literature describing the creation of the cosmos for not only their literary beauty and philosophical influences/distinctions, but their social and political implications. How do ideas of what is “human” support forms of ideal citizenship? How do these texts imagine and naturalize gender differences, the differences and affiliations between animals and humans, and the reason for pain and suffering in the world? How do they understand the world’s beauty alongside the ugliness of war? How do they try to transform the chaotic realities of the world into an ordered whole? This course fulfills the Power and Justice (P) GE requirement.
Crosslisting: CLAS 301.
Special Topics in Religion provides a venue in which to explore in some depth an aspect or issue related to Religion at a 200 level. Topics will vary by semester.
A general category used only in the evaluation of transfer credit.
The premise of the course is that America functions in the world and in our lives as an empire. While some would argue that we are "the indispensable nation," others contend that America uses its power in its own interests, even the interests of an elite segment of the country. Consideration is given to the role of capitalism as a distributor of goods and services and the ways in which it forges identity and addresses issues of equity. While there is a discreet focus on class, race, and gender, those issues emerge in other contexts. Attention is given to the biblical tradition as a model for responding to empire, and the ways in which it is exploitive. This course fulfills the Power and Justice (P) GE requirement.
War is one of the most important “ethical” issues in our time. Peace is a forced option when humanity faces the horrendous evil of violence. What roles does religion play in making war and making peace? Can we imagine peace independent from war? This course encourages students to take war and militarism into serious ethical consideration and to contemplate peace and justice in global society. By critically analyzing the issues, theories, and practices of war and peacemaking, students will be prepared to be autonomous thinkers and responsible global citizens who can discern how to make peace in a violent world and how to heal the world broken by war and violence.
This course explores the formations and intersections of the scholarly concepts and practices of race and religion in the United States. The goals are to better understand how and why race often remains a taboo subject in the study of religion and the ways in which race and ethnicity are relevant to religious studies scholarship. To do this, the class examines the development of categories of race, ethnicity, nation, and religion in the context of American religious history and sociology. We then turn our attention to landmark texts and problems in contemporary scholarship. These texts engage with a variety of racial and religious identities.
This seminar will examine in depth either a text or group of texts or a theme that is important in the New Testament.
This course will address the racial, ethnic and national politics of the Roman Empire in order to better understand early Christian texts. Why were early Christians described as a “new race” of people? Why did early Christians use the language of race and ethnicity to describe themselves, and how does that fit together with Christians’ universal theological claims about inclusion and being “for all people”? What does ancient Israel as a broken nation, conquered by the Romans, have to do with understanding who Jesus was and what Jesus and his death might have meant in the first century?
The course intends to provoke an awareness of the Holocaust as a historical event, with particular attention to the death camps, and an agenda to eliminate Jews. Consideration will be given to the ways in which individuals were co-opted or resisted, and institutions accommodated or were oppositional. As a religion course it will consider alternative theological responses to the deadly event and the understanding of God. The range of positions will be from the death of god to the preservation of orthodoxy. Finally, attention will be given to the presence of women in the death camps and the designation of God as Mother.
This course investigates the relationships between religion and society and the social dimension of religious truth-claims. The central theme entails a cross-cultural study of religious influences on both social stability and change or revolution. In exploring this tension between religion and existing socioeconomic and political orders, we will consider such examples as religious movements, civil religion, and liberation theology.
"The personal is internationally political!" Whether we are aware or not, we live in the globalized world and our actions here and now affect the lives of millions of people whom we may never meet face to face. Through the religious concept of "interdependence" with the secular understanding of "women's rights as human rights," this course will analyze and explore globalized issues of poverty, war, sex-trafficking, migration, reproductive rights, and religious conflict as well as ethically consider how diverse social groups are interconnected to each other beyond national and religious boundaries; and how we study, analyze, and practice transnational feminist activism for all humanity.
Crosslisting: WGST 327.
Special Topics in Religion provides a venue in which to explore in some depth an aspect or issue related to Religion at a 300 level. Topics will vary by semester.
A general category used only in the evaluation of transfer credit.
Religion 450 is the senior capstone seminar in Religion. The purpose of this seminar is to solidify students’ mastery of research methods and contemporary theory in the academic study of religion, to refine students’ own research and writing skills through the production of an independent research project, and to promote reflection on the students’ role as a scholar of religion.
Prerequisite(s): Religion senior majors and minors.