Philosophy and Religious Studies Classes

Required Courses for the Philosophy Major (31 semester hours):

PHIL 101 Introduction to Philosophy
PHIL 201 Logic
PHIL/RELG 207 Ethics
Two of the following three courses from the history sequence:
PHIL 205 Classical and Medieval Philosophy
PHIL 307 Modern Philosophy
PHIL 311 Contemporary Philosophy
PHIL 450 Senior Project (or an additional elective in philosophy)
PHIL 452 Senior Research
Four elective courses.

Required Courses for the Philosophy Minor (15 semester hours):
PHIL 101 Introduction to Philosophy
Two courses from the history sequence.
Two elective courses in philosophy.

Philosophy Courses

Required Courses for the Religious Studies Major (31 semester hours):

The following two courses (or other designated courses) in sacred scripture:
RELG 101 Introduction to the Old Testament
RELG 108 Introduction to the New Testament
The following two courses (or other designated courses) in beliefs and practices:
RELG 210 Judaism and Islam
RELG 300 Philosophy and Religions of Asia
Two of the following courses (or other designated courses) in theology/philosophy:
RELG 200 Topics in the History of Christian Thought
RELG 207 Ethics: Philosophical and Religious
RELG 213 Philosophy of Religion
RELG 320 Individualized Study
RELG 450 Senior Project (or an additional elective in religious studies)
Three electives in religious studies.

Required Courses for the Religious Studies Minor (15 semester hours):

RELG 200 Topics in the History of Christian Thought
One of the following courses:
RELG 101 Introduction to Old Testament
RELG 108 Introduction to New Testament
One course in cross-cultural materials, such as RELG 300 Philosophy and Religions of Asia.
Two elective courses in religious studies.

Religious Studies Courses

Required Courses for the Philosophy and Religious Studies Minor (15 semester hours):

The joint minor consists of five elective courses, with at least two courses in each discipline, and at least one course above the 200 level. The set of five courses must be approved by the department chair when the minor is declared. The minor is not available to Philosophy or Religious Studies majors and acts as an alternative to both majors and both minors.

Philosophy Course Descriptions:

PHIL 101. Introduction to Philosophy 3 sem hrs

How do we know what we know? Who are we? What is real? Do people have free will? Is thereabsolute knowledge or only contingent knowledge? Many issues that we deal with in daily lifeare ultimately philosophical issues. The word philosophy is from the Greek for “love of wisdom,” but what is wisdom? Reading a selection of texts from the history of Western philosophy and from world philosophy, the class will consider these and other questions, while we work toperfect the art of “slow reading” and to value open-ended questions as much as or more than certain answers. Prerequisites: None.

PHIL 201. Critical Thinking: Introduction to Logic 3 sem hrs

This course will be an introduction to the art of reasoning. We will practice analyzing arguments in advertising, the media, in selections from philosophical and literary texts, and in our own conversations as we explore deductive reasoning, inductive reasoning, and fallacies. Prerequisites: None.

PHIL 205. Classical and Medieval Philosophy 3 sem hrs

This course will offer a survey of some of the primary texts of ancient Greek and medieval philosophy in their cultural contexts. After considering Greek philosophy, we will trace some of its impact on the development of medieval philosophy. We will study the influence of the Arab-Muslim scholarship of medieval Spain both for its role in preserving, translating, and expanding on Greek texts and for its foundational role in the development of European culture.

PHIL 207. Ethics: Philosophical and Religious 3 sem hrs

(Cross-listed as RELG 207) This course will examine some of the moral problems we face in our lives and will consider a variety of ways of thinking about how to understand them. Beginning with an overview of some of the main theoretical approaches in ethical thought in the Western philosophical tradition, the class will then consider specific issues, which may include: sexual ethics, violence and peace, economic justice, environmental ethics, business ethics, race, gender, etc. No prerequisites.

PHIL 211. Philosophy of Education 3 sem hrs

An introduction to some of the philosophical foundations of education in order to consider the purposes of education for student, teacher, family, and society and some strategies for reaching educational goals. Students will consider how those philosophical foundations apply to educational practices of students and teachers and will ask what constitutes effective teaching and learning for both students and teachers. The class will explore how philosophies of education both shape and reflect societal values and will examine how those philosophies of education, put into practice, shape students and teachers, either to support and/or to challenge societal norms. This course is designed for students entering the teaching profession. Prerequisite: Sophomore standing.

PHIL 213. Philosophy of Religion 3 sem hrs

(Cross-listed as RELG 213) Can the existence of God be proven? Is religion rational? Do we have free will? Is there life after death? Can religious experience be verified? This is an introduction to the basic problems and issues that constitute contemporary philosophy of religion. In addition to a basic survey of the field, this course will focus on a particular issue, such as rationality and religion, religious pluralism, or proofs for the existence of God. Prerequisites: None.

PHIL 225. Philosophy and Feminism 3 sem hrs

This course will offer an introduction to some of the questions that shape feminist philosophy today. What connections are there between feminist philosophy and feminist writing in other disciplines and feminist movements inside and outside the academy? The class will assume the importance of diverse women’s voices. Reading theoretical, literary, and experimental texts which challenge the distinction between theory and literature, the class will focus on how an awareness of the intersections of race, class, sexuality, gender, ability, and ethnicity is vital for disciplinary and interdisciplinary study in feminist philosophy.

PHIL 250. Special Topics 3 sem hrs

PHIL 300. Philosophy and Religions of Asia 3 sem hrs

(Cross-listed as RELG 300) An introduction to the origins, histories, thought, practices, and developments of the great religions and philosophies of Asia. The course will study some of the following: Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Shintoism, Taoism, Zoroastrianism, Jainism, and Sikhism. Eastern philosophies will be explored in religious and cultural contexts. This course is intended primarily for students in their junior and senior years. May be repeated for credit with permission of the instructor.

PHIL 307. Modern Philosophy 3 sem hrs

This course will trace the development of European modernity, from its beginnings in the Renaissance through the Reformation and Scientific Revolution and into the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. We will look especially at how the rise of modernity, as expressed by the Rationalists, the Empiricists and through the Kantian turn, shaped European views of nature, science, mind, body, spirit/faith, and the nature of human beings. The emphasis will be on understanding modern philosophical works in their historical context. Recognizing that how we conceptualize ourselves and our world is shaped by our cultural moments, we will also consider challenges to modern European conceptions of people and our planet. This course is designed for students with some experience in philosophy and assumes some familiarity with the discipline. Prior completion of Phil 101, Phil 201, Phil 205, or Phil 207 is highly recommended.

PHIL 310. Environmental Ethics 3 sem hrs

(Cross-listed as RELG 310) An examination of ecological problems caused by human activities and possible solutions, starting with a rethinking of the relationship between human beings and nature. From different perspectives the course will investigate various interrelated issues ranging from ethical to metaphysical, including: Do we have an obligation to natural objects? If there should be an environmental ethic, what kind of ethic should it be? Students will have opportunities to develop and express their own views on these issues. This course is intended primarily for students in their sophomore, junior, and senior years.

PHIL 311. Contemporary Philosophy 3 sem hrs

This course will explore some of the directions philosophy has taken from late modernity to the present. Starting with a review of the eighteenth-century philosopher, Immanuel Kant, we will outline the defining features of modernity and some of the cracks in those foundations. Although quintessentially modern, Kant also paved the way for contemporary critiques of modernity on one hand and for contemporary attempts to defend and maintain modernity on the other. We will briefly consider the divergent paths contemporary philosophy has taken since Kant—the so-called Analytic and Continental paths—and we’ll ask ourselves if the two are really as separate as they sometimes seem. Finally, we’ll ask ourselves if there is a way to move from modernity’s self-assurance that the world can be understood with absolute certainty to contemporary views that the world may be beyond our grasp and that different cultures (broadly defined) have different foundations for understanding in a world of contingencies. This course is designed for students with some experience in philosophy and assumes some familiarity with the discipline. Prior completion of PHIL 101, PHIL 201, PHIL 207, PHIL 305, or PHIL 307 is highly recommended.

PHIL 315G. Philosophy of Art 3 sem hrs

An examination of perennial questions concerning beauty in works of art and nature, the attribution of value, the relation of aesthetic judgment and imagination to cognition and moral duty, and the impact of these matters on inquiries in related disciplines (i.e., linguistics, psychoanalysis, and religious studies). This course fulfills the Beauty and Meaning in Works of Art requirement.

PHIL 316. Existentialism 3 sem hrs.

(Cross listed as RELG 316.) An overview of issues and claims associated with existentialism, a cultural phenomenon touching upon and influenced by diverse fields of interests. The course necessarily is interdisciplinary, examining existential influences on literature and religious thought, as well as philosophy. Readings are from a number of contributors to the tradition, including Kierkegaard, Dostoevsky, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Tillich, Sartre, Camus. The course also employs narrative film. (Sophomore standing or above.)

PHIL 320. Individualized Study 1–3 sem hrs

Directed research and writing in an area of special interest to the student. May be repeated for credit.

PHIL 330. Theories of Knowledge 3 sem hrs

This course will introduce several of the major philosophical approaches to the question of what it means to know. Through a historical survey of primary sources, we will become familiar with the classical conception of knowledge as justified true belief and we will understand how modern challenges to this view—including skepticism regarding the senses and the problem of induction—have shaped contemporary movements in epistemology. This course is intended primarily for students in their sophomore, junior, and senior years.

PHIL 350. Topics in the History of Philosophy 1–3 sem hrs

This course will examine a particular figure, period, or theme in the history of philosophy, in a more focused manner than a survey course will allow. Emphasis will be placed on the significance of these ideas for contemporary debates and perspectives.

PHIL 411. Political Philosophy from Plato to the Present 3 sem hrs

(Cross-listed as POLS 411) A historical survey and philosophical analysis of political theory from ancient Greece to the present. Includes works by Plato, Aristotle, Machiavelli, Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Marx, and Mill.

PHIL 450. Senior Project 1–3 sem hrs

A thorough examination of a topic in philosophy and the composition of an extended essay involving in-depth research and analysis and/or synthesis under the individualized direction of a faculty member, or in a seminar. Required for majors in Philosophy as the culminating experience of their program of study. Open only to senior majors.

PHIL 452. Senior Research 1 sem hr

This course is designed for students conducting independent research in preparation for their senior projects in philosophy. Through regular meetings with the project advisor and individual research, students will begin the semester reading broadly in the relevant scholarship to generate and then focus a topic for the senior project. The remainder of the semester will consist of more focused research. Credit/No Credit.

Religious Studies Course Descriptions:

RELG 100. Introduction to World Religions 1 sem hr

This one-credit course offers a brief introduction to the world’s major religious traditions, including the Indian traditions of Hinduism and Buddhism, the Chinese religions of Confucianism and Taoism, and the “religions of Abraham” – Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Our weekly meetings will be primarily lecture, incorporating some images and video clips as well as time for discussion. The course will also encourage students to reflect on the category of “religion” in general and to consider the complexities of comparing traditions.

RELG 101. Introduction to the Old Testament 3 sem hrs

A study of the text of the Old Testament in its historical and cultural context. The story of Israel is traced from its formation as a people through the rise of the monarchy, exile, and return. The complex web of traditions that shaped Israel’s identity is analyzed, and the historical, literary, and theological dimensions of the texts are explored. Prerequisites: None.

RELG 108. Introduction to the New Testament 3 sem hrs

A study of first-century Christian literature in its historical and cultural contexts. The course will focus on the historical Jesus, Paul’s epistles, and the Jewish framework of early Christian faith and practice in Hellenic-Roman culture. Prerequisites: None.

RELG 150. Religion and Religions 3 sem hrs

What is religion? How do we make sense of religions in all of their diversity and all of their complexity? This course exposes students to an array of theories about religion, including sociological, anthropological, psychological, and phenomenological. It also engages the issues that arise in comparing traditions through a consideration of such issues as ritual, community, and sacred texts. Prerequisites: None.

RELG 200. Topics in the History of Christian Thought 3 sem hrs

Introduction to the history of Christian thought, from the missionary work of Paul to the development of basic church teachings in figures like Augustine, Anselm, Aquinas, and Julian of Norwich; the Reformation (Luther, Calvin, others) through to developments in the modern period, and the variety of Christian responses to contemporary culture. This course may focus on a particular theme or time period. Students may repeat this course for credit by permission of department chair. Prerequisites: None.

RELG 207. Ethics: Philosophical and Religious 3 sem hrs

(Cross-listed as PHIL 207) This course will examine some of the moral problems we face in our lives and will consider a variety of ways of thinking about how to understand them. Beginning with an overview of some of the main theoretical approaches in ethical thought in the Western philosophical tradition, the class will then consider specific  issues, which may include: sexual ethics, violence and peace, economic justice, environmental ethics, business ethics, race, gender, etc. No prerequisites.

RELG 210G. Judaism and Islam 3 sem hrs

A study of the origins, history, rituals, sacred writings, beliefs, practices, and modern developments among Jews and Muslims. Special attention is given to understanding similarities and differences between Judaism, Christianity, and Islam as monotheistic traditions which all trace their roots to Abraham. Prerequisites: None. This course meets the Human Societies general education requirement.

RELG 213. Philosophy of Religion 3 sem hrs

(Cross-listed as PHIL 213) Can the existence of God be proven? Is religion rational? Do we have free will? Is there life after death? Can religious experience be verified? This is an introduction to the basic problems and issues that constitute contemporary philosophy of religion. In addition to a basic survey of the field, this course will focus on a particular issue, such as rationality and religion, religious pluralism, proofs for the existence of God, or the problem of evil. Prerequisites: None.

RELG 220. Women and Religion 3 sem hrs

This course explores the religious lives of women across cultures and religious traditions. Course readings include: writings by women religious leaders and lay participants as well as essays about women in a variety of religious contexts. Attention is paid to the uniqueness and diversity of women’s experience within religious traditions, including the experience of oppression but also of empowerment. This course meets the cross-cultural requirement of the religious studies major.

RELG 244. Religion and Politics 3 sem hrs

(Cross-listed as POLS 244) The “secularization” thesis prevailed among the social scientists during the 1950s and 1960s. This thesis assumed that under the influence of industrialization, urbanization, and modernization, religion will become less important in the public and the private spheres. The emergence of highly politicized religious movements have posed a severe challenge to the secularization thesis. In this course, we will explore the relationship between religion and politics by examining contemporary movements such as the Christian Right in the U.S., Hindu fundamentalism in India, and political Islam in the Middle East and South Asia.

RELG 250. Special Topics 1–3 sem hrs

RELG 300. Philosophy and Religions of Asia 3 sem hrs

(Cross-listed as PHIL 300) An introduction to the origins, histories, thought, practices, and developments of the great religions and philosophies of Asia. The course will study some of the following: Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Shintoism, Taoism, Zoroastrianism, Jainism, and Sikhism. Eastern philosophies will be explored in religious and cultural contexts. This course is intended primarily for students in their junior and senior years. May be repeated for credit with permission of the instructor.

RELG 310. Environmental Ethics 3 sem hrs

(Cross-listed as PHIL 310) An examination of ecological problems caused by human activities and possible solutions, starting with a rethinking of the relationship between human beings and nature. From different perspectives, the course will investigate various interrelated issues ranging from ethical to metaphysical, including: Do we have an obligation to natural objects? If there should be an environmental ethic, what kind of ethic should it be? Students will have opportunities to develop and express their own views on these issues. This course is intended primarily for students in their sophomore, junior, and senior years.

RELG 312. Religion in America 3 sem hrs

(Cross-listed as HIST 312) The story of American religious history is an important narrative about our country’s identity. Recent work in the field has focused on what has been left out of the old stories and how we might better account for the experiences of women, of minorities, and of those groups who challenge the dominate theologies and practices. This course covers the colonial period through to contemporary developments, including secularization, New Age movements and the flourishing of the world’s religious traditions within an American context. Students will be exposed to some of the recent work in the field that explores the various ways to tell the story of American religious history. Course topics will vary from year to year. Possible topics include: Christianity in America, African-American religious history, new religious movements and utopian experiments, women in American religious history or the world’s religions in America. This course is intended primarily for students in their sophomore, junior, and senior years. May be repeated for credit with permission of the instructor.

RELG 316. Existentialism 3 sem hrs.

(Cross listed as PHIL316.) An overview of issues and claims associated with existentialism, a cultural phenomenon touching upon and influenced by diverse fields of interests. The course necessarily is interdisciplinary, examining existential influences on literature and religious thought, as well as philosophy. Readings are from a number of contributors to the tradition, including Kierkegaard, Dostoevsky, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Tillich, Sartre, Camus. The course also employs narrative film. (Sophomore standing or above.)

RELG 320. Individualized Study 1–3 sem hrs

Directed research and writing in an area of special interest to the student. May be repeated for credit.

RELG 350. Contemporary Issues in Religious Studies 1–3 sem hrs

This course examines a contemporary issue in the study of religion and draws upon recent scholarship in the field.

RELG 450. Senior Project 1–3 sem hrs

A thorough examination of a topic in religion and the composition of an extended essay involving in-depth research and analysis and/or synthesis under the individualized direction of a faculty member, or in a seminar. Open only to senior majors.