Catalog 2022-2023

Philosophy and Religious Studies

Teaching Faculty

Professors Ablondi (chair), Campolo, Gorvine, and Williamson
Associate Professor Dow
Assistant Professor Corey

Description

The Philosophy and Religious Studies Department offers a Philosophy major and minor and a Religious Studies major and minor. The Philosophy and Religious Studies Department also supports the Steel Center for the Study of Religion and Philosophy.

The Philosophy program engages with big questions concerning existence, knowledge, and values. What does it mean to lead a fulfilled life as a whole person? What is the nature of reality? What makes one the same person over time? What are the relations between persons, souls, minds, and bodies? What are the basic questions we ask about our own existence and the meaning of life? What counts as knowledge? Are there different kinds of knowing? What are the sources of knowledge? Is beauty in the eye of the beholder? What are the sources of beauty? What's the relationship between beauty and the good? What is the right thing to do? What makes someone a good person? What are the sources of moral goodness? What are the grounds of human rights? What is justice and how do we bring about just communities?

The Philosophy program approaches these questions through a variety of methodologies. We engage the history of philosophy, because our questions and conversations are inevitably situated in accounts in intellectual history. Students receive rigorous training in argumentation, critical thinking, logic, and analysis of thought and language in order to develop standards of clarity and precision for reflective judgment. Philosophy majors are encouraged to think systematically, making interdisciplinary connections with the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences. Philosophy students are encouraged to become engaged learners by reading, writing, discussing, and reflecting on history, arguments, and interdisciplinary connections. The Philosophy major is ideal for multiple professional pursuits, including law, journalism, publishing, advertising, public relations, and non-profit management.

Religious Studies represents an essential ingredient of a liberal arts education by encouraging sustained reflection on what it is to be human. The Religious Studies program combines critical analysis with sympathetic imagination, allowing us to understand more fully not only the 'data' of vast, diverse and influential religious traditions, but also the human beings who participate in them. Toward these ends, the Religious Studies program utilizes a tremendous breadth of conceptual tools to foster understanding of religion in all its richness, drawing from anthropology, archeology, history, literature, psychology, philosophy, politics, sociology and theology. Our courses reflect an abiding commitment to the study of the traditions that have indelibly shaped our own local context, as well as an active engagement with a broad range of the world's religions that presently constitute our global environment.

At Hendrix, students pursue their interests in religion through varied activities including textual studies, field work, international travel, one-on-one interviews, film studies, artistic projects and service learning. Students of religion think deeply about matters of the utmost concern, including the purpose of life, the nature of reality, and our relationships with others. They develop skills of careful reading and clear writing as they wrestle with these fundamental questions, as well as a greater appreciation of their own assumptions, a respect for others, and a firm basis for constructively contributing to solutions for the problems of our time.

Students find that the Hendrix Philosophy and Religious Studies Department cultivates an intellectual environment that is open, friendly, and welcoming. The department is located in Ellis Hall, in which we encourage an atmosphere of intellectual wonder and thoughtful inquiry. Students benefit from close contact with professors who are active scholars and committed teachers, animated by their love of philosophy, religious studies, and the liberal arts. Scholars in the Philosophy and Religious Studies Department have connections with Classics, Study of the Mind, Environmental Studies, the Miller Center, Social Justice, and the Steel Center for the Study of Religion and Philosophy, which aims to identify, clarify, and contribute to the understanding of the emerging religious and philosophical issues of our time.

Major in Philosophy

11 courses distributed as follows

  • PHIL 205 Critical Reasoning
              or
    PHIL 245 Introduction to Logic
  • PHIL 285 Ancient Philosophy
  • PHIL 302  Early Modern Philosophy
  • PHIL 306  Late Modern Philosophy
  • PHIL 487 Senior Seminar
              or 
    PHIL 497 Senior Thesis
  • 1 ethics course from the following: 
              PHIL 206 B1 Special Focus: Ethics in the Face of Poverty
              PHIL 215 Ethics and Society
              PHIL 225 Ethics and Medicine
              PHIL 316  Environmental Ethics
              PHIL 330 Ethical Theory
  • 5 other philosophy courses
  • At least 6 of the 11 courses must be at or above the 300-level 

NOTE: Topics not covered in courses described below are available to majors through individually arranged independent studies.

Major in Religious Studies

10 courses distributed as follows:

  • RELI 111 Asian Religions
  • RELI 113 Judaism, Christianity, & Islam 
  • RELI 209 What is Religion? 
  • RELI 497  Senior Colloquium
  • 6 elective courses in religious studies selected in consultation with the major advisor to insure both breadth and depth.
  • 3 of the elective courses must be 300-level or above

Senior Capstone Experience

Philosophy

At the end of the junior year, students choose between PHIL 487  Senior Seminar  and PHIL 497  Senior Thesis  . The latter option is for students who seek and receive approval by the department for a significant undergraduate research project.

 

Religious Studies

The Senior Capstone Experience for the religious studies major consists of an engaged learning project that is completed as part of RELI 497 Senior Colloquium .  This engaged learning project may be either theoretical or applied in nature, depending on the student's preferences.  For example, students might choose to write a research paper, organize a service project in the community, create a blog or website on a topic of public interest, or write a curriculum for a local school or religious community, etc. The capstone project grade is determined by the course professor in consultation with the members of the religious studies department.  The project grade also contributes a portion of the overall grade in RELI 497.

Minor in Philosophy

6 courses distributed as follows:

  • PHIL 285   Ancient Philosophy 
  • PHIL 302    Early Modern Philosophy
  • PHIL 306   Late Modern Philosophy
  • 3 other philosophy courses, at least one of which must be 300-level or above.

Minor in Religious Studies

6 religious studies courses, including 2 at the 300-400 level.

Program Course Listings

The courses for this program are organized into the following categories:

Philosophy Courses

PHIL 111

How Do We Know?

This course explores questions about the nature and purposes of human knowledge, such as: Are there different kinds of knowing? What are the sources of knowing? What counts as knowing? What are the relationships between knowledge and truth, knowledge and beliefs, knowledge and skill, knowledge and reality? How can we justify what we know? Students have the opportunity to read and discuss key philosophical texts on these and related topics. Open to first-year students only.

Values, Beliefs and Ethics VA
PHIL 112

What is Beauty?

This course explores questions about the nature of beauty, such as: Is beauty in the eye of the beholder? Are there different kinds of beauty? What are the sources of beauty? What are the relationships between beauty and art, beauty and nature, beauty and pleasure, beauty and goodness? Students have the opportunity to read and discuss key philosophical texts on these and related topics. Open to first-year students only.

Values, Beliefs and Ethics VA
PHIL 113

How Should We Live?

This course explores questions about the nature of morality such as: What is the right thing to do? What makes someone a good person? What are the sources of moral goodness? What are the relationships between morality and pleasure, morality and duty, morality and evil, morality and politics, morality and non-human creatures and natural features? Students have the opportunity to read and discuss key philosophical texts on these and related topics. Open to first-year students only.

Values, Beliefs and Ethics VA
PHIL 114

What is Real?

This course explores the nature of reality, such as: What is real, what exists, and how do we determine that? What kinds of things are real and unreal? What role do different disciplines play in investigating reality? What are the relationships between reality and fiction, reality and morality, reality and knowledge, reality and existence, reality and perception? Students have the opportunity to read and discuss key philosophical texts on these and related topics. Open to first-year students only.

Values, Beliefs and Ethics VA
PHIL 200

Special Focus

Selected studies of major philosophers or philosophical concerns. This course can be repeated for additional credits as long as the section topics are different. Recent offerings include Civil Discourse, Poverty Studies, Native American Philosophy, Mark Twain, Persons Over Time, and Scottish Philosophy. Please consult the online course schedule for current offerings of this course.

Values, Beliefs and Ethics VA
PHIL 205

Critical Reasoning

An investigation into the varieties of reasoning, with concentration on the comprehension, evaluation, and construction of arguments. By analyzing examples of reasoning drawn from everyday life, the media, and different academic disciplines, students develop the skills and vocabulary required to articulate how reasoning works and to make reasoning an effective tool for gaining knowledge and participating in public discourse.

PHIL 206

Special Focus

Selected studies of major philosophers or philosophical concerns. This course can be repeated for additional credits as long as the section topics are different. Recent offerings include Civil Discourse, Poverty Studies, Native American Philosophy, Mark Twain, Persons Over Time, and Scottish Philosophy. Please consult the online course schedule for current offerings of this course.

Values, Beliefs and Ethics VA
PHIL 215

Ethics and Society

The philosophical analysis and evaluation of selected controversies related to the use of law and political systems to create and sustain just social conditions. The typical sort of issues studied would be poverty and world hunger, racism, the death penalty, civil disobedience, and conflicts over the protection of fundamental rights such as freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and privacy.

Values, Beliefs and Ethics VA
PHIL 225

Ethics and Medicine

The philosophical analysis and evaluation of selected controversies related to the practice of medicine. The typical sort of issues to be studied are abortion, termination of treatment, physician-assisted suicide, the use of reproductive and genetic technologies, and the just allocation of limited medical resources.

Values, Beliefs and Ethics VA
PHIL 235

Philosophy of Cognitive Science

The philosophy of cognitive science is an interdisciplinary field in which arguments, theories and methods from the intersection of philosophy and the cognitive sciences are used to reflect about aspects of the mind, including rationality, perception, actions, thoughts, and language. Students study, analyze, and evaluate six theories of representation—logic, rules, concepts, analogies, images, and connections—and three mental architectures—computational, connectionist, and dynamical. Students explore contemporary philosophical research and philosophical perspectives on interdisciplinary debates about the emotions, consciousness, embodiment, agency, and the social.

Social and Behavioral Analysis SB
Values, Beliefs and Ethics VA
PHIL 240

Existentialism

An introductory study of existentialism through readings in literature and philosophy. Typically with selections from Kierkegaard and Nietzsche to Heidegger, Sartre, and Jaspers. The modern predicament of the human being is examined and possible solutions sought.

Values, Beliefs and Ethics VA
PHIL 245

Logic

Emphasis upon the development of a symbolic system for sentential logic. Critical analysis and reasoning skills are practiced. Some aspects of traditional and informal logic receive brief treatment.

PHIL 280

Free Will, Agents and Intentions

Is freedom compatible with a world of cause and effect? Does freedom exist or is the conscious will an illusion? Students study, analyze, and evaluate philosophical arguments concerning freedom of the will, its relationship to moral responsibility, the nature of agency and action, philosophical accounts of intentions, and the relationship between rationality, reasons, and causes of action. Students explore contemporary philosophical research on questions concerning moral psychology, debates about the effectiveness of the conscious will, and debates about the awareness of our own agency.

Values, Beliefs and Ethics VA
Writing Level 2 W2
PHIL 285

Ancient Philosophy

Study of ancient Western philosophers and philosophical systems. Subjects may include the Presocratics, Plato, Aristotle, the Stoics, and Neo-Platonism. Cross-listed as CLAS 285.

Values, Beliefs and Ethics VA
PHIL 302

Early Modern Philosophy

Study of philosophers and philosophical systems of the Enlightenment: Rationalism, Empiricism, and Kant.

Values, Beliefs and Ethics VA
PHIL 306

Late Modern Philosophy

Study of the intellectual history of the late modern period (late 18th century through the late 19th century) including the study of primary texts written by a selection of the following thinkers: Kant, Hegel, Marx, and Nietzsche. Throughout the course we focus on the themes of agency, the self, and the social, tracing the emergence of German Idealism, critiques of idealism, and the origins of post-modernism. Other possible topics include: metaphysics, epistemology, aesthetics, ethics, and social and political thought of the late modern period.

Values, Beliefs and Ethics VA
Writing Level 2 W2
PHIL 308

Environmental Philosophy

Environmental philosophy is the study of the natural environment and humans' place within the natural world. What do we mean when we talk about nature? How do we understand the ways that humans are a part of and interact with the natural world? What are the worldviews, beliefs, desires, and interests that guide humans as they interact with the non-human natural world? Topics might include: philosophy of nature, philosophy of environmental sciences, philosophy of technology, philosophies of environmental value, the aesthetic appreciation of natural environments, or introductory environmental ethics.

Values, Beliefs and Ethics VA
Writing Level 2 W2
PHIL 310

Feminist Thought

Study of women’s experience under patriarchy and of the philosophical, theological, and social criticisms arising therefrom.

Values, Beliefs and Ethics VA
PHIL 316

Environmental Ethics

Environmental Ethics is the study of the values of the non-human natural world, our obligations to care for nature, and debates about possible practical solutions to our environmental problems. Is the value of nature intrinsic or instrumental, ecological or anthropocentric, holistic or individual? What obligations do humans have to non-human nature? Who counts in environmental ethics (animals, plants, or ecosystems)? What ethical values are involved in caring for the natural world? What aspects of human practices might be changed to address environmental problems? Topics might include any of the following: animal rights, climate change, conservation, agriculture, wilderness, or environmental activism.

Values, Beliefs and Ethics VA
Writing Level 2 W2
PHIL 318

Stoics, Skeptics, and Epicureans

A philosophical exploration of these three post-Platonic traditions in ancient philosophy. Prerequisite: A previous course in philosophy or classics, or consent of instructor

A previous course in philosophy or classics, or consent of instructor
Values, Beliefs and Ethics VA
PHIL 330

Ethical Theory

The course focuses upon understanding and comparing theories about what principles should guide human action, what kind of living constitutes the truly good life, and in what sense judgments regarding moral value have "objective" answers.

Values, Beliefs and Ethics VA
PHIL 332

Concepts of God

What is God like? Should God be understood as a person or a force? How is God related to the world? This course surveys primarily Western thinkers from the times of the biblical writers, through Plato, Aristotle and early Jewish and Christian sources to the development of modern atheism and beyond it to contemporary understandings of God. Issues such as evil, human responsibility and prayer are discussed in relation to divine power and knowledge. Cross-listed as RELI 332.

Values, Beliefs and Ethics VA
PHIL 350

Philosophy of Science

Philosophical issues related to science and the scientific method with readings from Hempel, Popper, Kuhn, and others.

Values, Beliefs and Ethics VA
PHIL 360

Social and Political Philosophy

Study and evaluation of the major philosophical theories and controversies shaping our contemporary political debates over such issues as the nature of social and economic justice, the meaning of equality, the limits of individual freedom, the sources of political obligation, and the characteristics of a well-ordered society.

Values, Beliefs and Ethics VA
PHIL 370

Philosophy of Religion

The study of philosophical issues and questions related to religious belief, language, and worldview, with particular attention to classical and/or contemporary arguments regarding the relationship of faith and reason. Topics may include arguments of existence of God, the problem of evil, the nature and epistemic value of religious experience, and the implications of pluralism for rational religious commitment. Cross-listed as RELI 370.

Values, Beliefs and Ethics VA
PHIL 380

Theories of Reality

Metaphysics is concerned with the most general questions about the foundations of existence. What is the nature of being? What are the basic objects of reality? Is the nature of properties and relations different from the way we talk and think about them? Are there necessary truths? What are space and time? What makes persons, minds, bodies identical with themselves over time? What is the nature of causation? Are human beings free? Is the task of metaphysics descriptive or is metaphysics a revisionary science, explaining and predicting the grounds of existence?

Values, Beliefs and Ethics VA
Writing Level 2 W2
PHIL 385

Theories of Knowledge

Epistemology is the philosophical inquiry into the nature, conditions and extent of knowledge. Are dreams, hallucinations, and illusions threats to our knowledge? Is all knowledge based in our senses or can we have knowledge independent of experience, like propositions in math or logic? Is justified true belief sufficient for knowledge? Does knowledge shift with context? Is knowledge internal or external to a subject’s perspective? Does epistemology involve inquiry into the justification of our beliefs or into the natural origins of our beliefs? Students study knowledge in at least one particular case—perception, action, memory, inference, or testimony.

Values, Beliefs and Ethics VA
Writing Level 2 W2
PHIL 389

Aesthetics & Contemporary Art

An introduction to aesthetics as a theoretical discipline in its own right, a discipline concerned with the nature of representation and thus with beauty and art. The course focuses in particular on issues of aesthetics and visual representation; the relationship between visual arts, literature, and other art forms; the efficacy of aesthetic theory as a mode of reading and interpreatation. The class explores these issues in relation to specific works of visual art, film, and literature. Cross-listed as ARTH 389.

Literary Studies LS
Values, Beliefs and Ethics VA
Writing Level 2 W2
PHIL 390

Philosophy of Mind

What is the nature of the mental and how does it relate to the physical body and physical bodies in general? Is the mark of the mental intentionality, or “aboutness”? What is the nature of representational content of our mental states? Are the contents of our mental states determined by facts internal to the individual or facts external to the individual in the physical world? What is the nature of consciousness and self-consciousness? Students discuss a special topic from the following: perception, action, emotion, memory, thought, language, consciousness, or self-consciousness.

Values, Beliefs and Ethics VA
Writing Level 2 W2
PHIL 395

Special Topics in Philosophy

A topics course in philosophy. This course can be repeated for additional credits as long as the section topics are different. Check the online course schedule for information about the topics currently scheduled to be taught.

Values, Beliefs and Ethics VA
PHIL 425

Neurophilosophy

Neurophilosophy is the study of foundational assumptions of neuroscientific theory and practice through the lens of arguments about mechanism, causation, and intervention with particular emphasis on the philosophy of science. Students study, analyze, and evaluate philosophical arguments concerning reductive accounts of perception, action and consciousness, accounts of representation and processes in neuroscience, foundational assumptions of brain-imaging technologies, and debates about functions and structures in the brain. Students also reflect upon how findings in neuroscience appertain to traditional philosophical questions concerning mental causation, morality, language, consciousness, selfhood, freedom, moral responsibility, and the existence of souls and God.

Social and Behavioral Analysis SB
Values, Beliefs and Ethics VA
Writing Level 2 W2
PHIL 487

Senior Seminar

An advanced seminar in philosophy for senior majors in philosophy. Topics are chosen by the faculty members teaching the seminar. This course may be taken by senior philosophy majors in lieu of the senior thesis.

Values, Beliefs and Ethics VA
PHIL 490

Topics

A topics course in philosophy studying selected major philosophers or philosophical concerns. This course can be repeated for additional credits as long as the section topics are different. Recent topics include Poverty Studies, New Philosophy of Science, Spinoza, Ethics and Commerce, Philosophy of Psychology and Early Medieval Philosophy. Please consult the online course schedule for current offerings of this course.

Writing Level 2 W2
PHIL 497

Senior Thesis

Students in consultation with a professor research, write, and defend a substantial paper on a topic of their choosing. Open only to philosophy majors in the senior year.

Undergraduate Research UR
Writing Level 2 W2
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Religious Studies Courses

RELI 110

The World's Religions: An Intro

This course introduces students to the teachings, practices, spiritualities, and histories of many world religions. The religions include Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, Sikhism, Jainism, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and indigenous traditions. Since this course introduces Asian religions in an abbreviated way, students who take this course may also take RELI 111 Introduction to Asian Religions.

Values, Beliefs and Ethics VA
RELI 111

Asian Religions

This course introduces a variety of religious traditions rooted in South, Central and East Asia. The course explores narrative and philosophical texts, ritual practices, religious experiences, social relationships, historical developments, and other aspects of religious life in Asia past and present.

Values, Beliefs and Ethics VA
RELI 113

Judaism, Christianity, & Islam

An introduction to Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, surveying the historical development, belief systems, practices, and sacred texts of each tradition, both independently and in relation to one another.

Values, Beliefs and Ethics VA
RELI 123

Introduction to Hebrew Bible (OT)

An introduction to the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament), employing the methodologies of academic biblical scholarship. Attention is given to the major texts, characters, and themes of the Hebrew Bible, with consideration of both the literary character of the text and its relationship to the historical context of ancient Israel.

Historical Perspectives HP
Literary Studies LS
RELI 124

Intro to the New Testament

This course is an introduction to the New Testament, employing the methodologies of academic biblical scholarship. Attention is given to the major texts, characters, and themes of the New Testament, with consideration of both the literary character of the text and its relationship to the historical context of early Christianity. Some attention is also given to the noncanonical texts of early Christianity, including the Gnostic Gospels.

Historical Perspectives HP
Literary Studies LS
RELI 209

What is Religion?

What is religion, and what makes something “religious”? This course examines the possible ways in which this category may be understood and applied, as well as what may be at stake when we classify phenomena in this way. Students will explore various approaches to the study of religious phenomena and ideas as expressed in forms ranging from historical scriptures, narratives, and practice traditions to contemporary examples of believing, behaving, and belonging found in popular culture.

Values, Beliefs and Ethics VA
RELI 218

Buddhist Contemplation

Central to the Buddha's teachings was a presentation of meditation practices designed to calm the mind and evoke insight into the nature of reality. Over time, Buddhist contemplative culture has come to encompass a variety of techniques, such as breathing meditation, cultivation of mindfulness, altruism, compassion, visualization, and recovering innate intelligence. This course introduces how Buddhist meditative states have been linked to doctrine and practice in different historical and cultural contexts. It invites students to participate experientially in an investigation of methods associcated with different Buddhist contemplative traditions, many of which have been researched and adapted for a variety of uses in contemporary secular society.

Values, Beliefs and Ethics VA
RELI 223

Hindu Texts and Traditions

This course is designed as an introduction to the myriad forms of South Asian religious expression designated as “Hinduism.” The course surveys Hinduism’s historical roots and developments, philosophical and ritual innovations, social and ethical ideals, and influential works of literature, relying on both primary and secondary sources. The latter part of the course centers on issues of ongoing relevance to modern-day tradition, analyzing, for example, Hindu understandings of religious art and worship, influential works of modern Indian fiction, and current scholarship on contemporary issues and communities.

Values, Beliefs and Ethics VA
RELI 226

Genesis and Its Interpreters

The biblical book of Genesis contains some of the foundational stories of the Jewish, Christian, and Muslim traditions, all of which trace their lineage back to the figure of Abraham / Ibrahim. This course engages in an in-depth study of the book of Genesis in relation to its original context in the ancient Near East, to its later reception in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, and to its adaption in contemporary popular culture.

Literary Studies LS
Values, Beliefs and Ethics VA
RELI 227

Skeptics in Scripture: Eccl & Job

Even within the Bible itself, we find people struggling with the apparent meaninglessness of life, the injustice of the world, and the triumph of evil over good. This course examines two of the most profoundly skeptical voices in the Hebrew Bible—the books of Ecclesiastes and Job. Students consider the relationship of each text to the issues of its own day, as well as examining how they have been received, reflected, and reinterpreted in contemporary art, film, literature, and music.

Literary Studies LS
Values, Beliefs and Ethics VA
RELI 228

The Gospels as Literature

Students engage in close readings of the four New Testament Gospels. While some attention is given to historical context, the focus is on the Gospels as literature and the role of the reader in the production of meaning.

Literary Studies LS
RELI 235

Leadership in a Multi-Faith World

This course equips students to work effectively in religiously diverse environments. It is intended not only for future religious leaders, but for anyone interested in business, politics, nonprofit work, or any type of public involvement in a religiously pluralistic society. Drawing on academic resources as well as the expertise of local interfaith leaders, the course provides students with the skills, knowledge, and attitudes necessary to build understanding, appreciation, and collaboration among people with diverse religious, spiritual, and nonreligious ways of life. Recommended: RELI 110 is recommended but not required

RELI 110 is recommended but not required
Values, Beliefs and Ethics VA
RELI 238

Tibetan Religion and Culture

This course is a survey of religious life in the “Land of Snow,” with particular attention paid to Tibetan Buddhism and its role in shaping religion and culture throughout the Himalayas. In addition to surveying the foundations of Buddhist thought, this course will examine the history of Tibetan Buddhism and its role in shaping Tibetan religious and political institutions. It will also explore sources on contemporary religious culture among ethnic Tibetan communities.

Values, Beliefs and Ethics VA
RELI 270

Ecotheology:Reli, Animals & Earth

In the twentieth and twenty-first centuries an important form of religious thinking is emerging called ecotheology. It involves exploring how spirituality is connected with an appreciation of the earth and its many forms of life and how the earth needs to be protected from excessive exploitation. There are Christian versions of ecotheology, Jewish versions, Buddhist versions, and many others, including feminist versions called ecofeminism. This course looks at a wide variety of forms of ecotheology. A component of the course focuses on human relations to animals, with attention to the animal rights movement and constructive religious responses to it.

Values, Beliefs and Ethics VA
RELI 280

Topics in Religion

This course engages students in understanding the complexity of religion through a topic chosen from among the areas of world religions, biblical studies, Christianity, religion and culture, and philosophy of religion and theology. This course can be repeated for additional credits as long as the section topics are different. Check the online course schedule for information about the topics currently scheduled to be taught.

Values, Beliefs and Ethics VA
RELI 309

Yoga: Past and Present

What is yoga, and what, if anything, does the practice that some 16 million Americans perform in studios and gyms, spas and ashrams have to do with the religions of India? This course surveys a variety of recent scholarship on the cultural history of yoga in the context of ancient Indian traditions, and also looks at colonial era and contemporary innovations that have contributed to the mass cultural phenomenon that might arguably be called India's greatest cultural export. Readings include early and medieval texts typically associated with yoga, such as the Bhagavad Gita, Patanjali's Yoga Sutras and later tantric material, and we also consider the work of early cultural ambassadors, major modern interpreters and contemporary advocates.

Values, Beliefs and Ethics VA
RELI 327

Race, Gender,Empire & the Bible

The course explores contemporary methods in biblical interpretation such as feminist criticism, postcolonial criticism, critical race theory, and queer theory. While some attention is given to scholarly works employing these theories and methods, the focus of the course is on students developing their own interpretive abilities. The specific biblical texts considered varies by semester. Prerequisite: RELI 123 or RELI 124 recommended

RELI 123 or RELI 124 recommended
Literary Studies LS
Writing Level 2 W2
RELI 331

Revelation and Resistance

This course examines the New Testament book of Revelation as a call to for resistance to Empire in both its historical context and today. Attention is given to both the literary and historical contexts of Revelation within the early Christianity of the Roman Empire. More contemporary interpretations of Revelation are considered, including popular “End Times” prophecies, among others. The course requires engaged learning outside of the classroom, exploring what “resistance to Empire” may mean in Conway, Little Rock, and beyond.

Literary Studies LS
Values, Beliefs and Ethics VA
RELI 332

Concepts of God

What is God like? Should God be understood as a person or a force? How is God related to the world? This course surveys primarily Western thinkers from the times of the biblical writers, through Plato, Aristotle and early Jewish and Christian sources to the development of modern atheism and beyond it to contemporary understandings of God. Issues such as evil, human responsibility and prayer are discussed in relation to divine power and knowledge. Cross-listed as PHIL 332.

Values, Beliefs and Ethics VA
RELI 334

Extraordinary Buddhist Lives

What makes for an extraordinary life from a Buddhist perspective? How do literary works portray the lives of highly accomplished Buddhists? Beginning with the Buddha, this course explores the life-narratives of ideal monks, masters and meditators, examining the religious values, literary practices and cultural dynamics evident in religious biographies over the centuries. We also consider the veneration of living Buddhist “saints” past and present, with a view to how such exemplary people function in the lives of those who revere them.

Literary Studies LS
Values, Beliefs and Ethics VA
Writing Level 2 W2
RELI 335

Shamans & Spirits

What does the idea of the shaman tell us about indigenous peoples, their religious identities, and their cultural practices? Who or what are spirits, and how do they function amidst ordinary life and in times of crisis, illness, and healing? And how do people who "shamanize" understand and represent themselves in the present context? In addressing these questions, this course examines various ways in which anthopologists, historians of religion and others - including native people themselves - have attempted to articulate and interpret the dimensions of global indigenous culture deemed "shamanic." In the process, the course considers contemporary perspectives on the value and problems associated with comparative studies, ethnographic representation, and intercultural communication; examines ethical and philosophical issues in light of cross-cultural (mis)understandings of healing modalities; and discusses contemporary shamanism as an aspect of popular culture.

Values, Beliefs and Ethics VA
Writing Level 2 W2
RELI 370

Philosophy of Religion

The study of philosophical issues and questions related to religious belief, language, and worldview, with particular attention to classical and/or contemporary arguments regarding the relationship of faith and reason. Topics may include arguments of existence of God, the problem of evil, the nature and epistemic value of religious experience, and the implications of pluralism for rational religious commitment. Cross-listed as PHIL 370. Prerequisite: a previous course in philosophy or consent of instructor

a previous course in philosophy or consent of instructor
Values, Beliefs and Ethics VA
RELI 380

Topics in Religion

Intensive analysis of important topics in theological, historical, and biblical studies. Topics will be determined in light of student interest and faculty expertise. The following examples suggest some of the kinds of topics likely to be considered: Religion Behind the Iron Curtain; Death and Dying; Religious Responses to the Holocaust; Cultic Phenomena in Contemporary America; Religion, War, and Peace; Whitehead's Philosophy and Its Religious Relevance; Religion and Atheism. Prerequisite: Junior standing and two courses in religion, or instructor's consent.

Junior standing and two courses in religion, or instructor's consent.
RELI 497

Senior Colloquium-WII

The course covers three areas. (1) Intellectual Autobiography: Students reflect on what they have learned from coursework, Odysseys, internships, and co-curricular activities. (2) Career Readiness/ Professional Development: via class assignments and working with Career Services students identify competencies and understand how they are ready for employment or further education. (3) Research Project: Students design and carry out an independent engaged learning project. Prerequisite: Senior standing and a declared major in Religious Studies.

Senior standing and a declared major in Religious Studies.
Writing Level 2 W2
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Question about the Catalog?