Fall 2021 Courses

REL 100. Intro to Religious Ethics.

TR 4-5:15pm. Summerfield 506. Lindsey, William. GTA: TBD. Cap: 59.

In this class we will learn how religious values are used to make ethical judgments, but we will also ask if and how those judgments influence practices or the behavior of people in their everyday lives. What causes a disjunction between norms and behavior? What is the tension between different values when deciding how to act? What about differences of opinion between and even within different religious traditions? What happens when societal expectations conflict with religious values or vice versa? Or when ethical reasoning leads to two different conclusions about how to act? Using specific cases, such as human rights, environmental and sexual ethics, race and violence students will learn how ethical reasoning unfolds in different religious traditions, what values support that reasoning and what happens in society when those values compete. LEC.

REL/JWSH 107 Jews, Christians, Muslims.

ONLINE. 8/23/21-10/15/21. Instructor: James Woodington. GTA: TBD. Cap 65.

A basic introduction to the major religious traditions of the Near East, Europe, and the Americas, with an emphasis on their development through the modern period and their expressions in contemporary life. Not open to students who have taken JWSH 109 or REL 109. (Same as JWSH 107.) LEC.

REL 137. Religious Ethics and Moral Decisions.

ONLINE. 10/25/21-12/17/21. Instructor: Jackie Brinton. GTA: TBD. Cap: 65.

When faced with ethical dilemmas how do we decide what is the right course of action? In what ways are our decisions affected by religious ideas about morality? In this class we examine the ethical problems we encounter every day in light of the solutions offered from various religious traditions. Cases to be examined include issues of life and death, war and peace, sexual morals, torture, the treatment of animals and the environment. LEC.

REL 171/AMS 290. Religion in American Society. 3 hours.

TR 11-12:15. Lindley 317. Instructor: Rachel Schwaller. GTA: TBD. Cap: 85.

A broad introduction to religion in American culture. This class emphasizes the well-established religions with large followings (viz. Judaism, Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, and Protestantism). Some attention is also given to other religions active in America. Other topics covered include the relationship of church and state, religion in ethnic and racial minority groups, and women and religion. Not open to students who have taken REL 172. (Same as AMS 290.) LEC.

REL 177 First Year Seminar: Religion and the Environment

TR 1-2:15pm. Smith 208. Zahn, Molly. Cap: 28.

In today’s American society, environmentalists and religious people are often portrayed as opponents: environmental activists sometimes blame religion for getting in the way of change, while some prominent religious leaders portray environmentalists as godless radicals. Yet many people see their religious convictions and their commitment to protecting the environment as closely connected. This seminar cuts through the heated rhetoric to ask what role religion plays in how humans respond to the natural world. Does religion tend to alienate people from the environment, or foster a sense of superiority over other beings, as some environmentalists claim? Or does religion promote connection to the environment and foster an ethic of responsibility, as many people of faith have argued? The answer, of course, is “both”! In this class we will examine the variety of ways religious and environmental attitudes intersect, studying the writings of famous environmental and religious thinkers such as John Muir and Pope Francis, among others. We will also explore the idea of “the sacred” in the natural world: What does it mean to consider nature to be sacred? How have such ideas been expressed across different religious traditions?

A limited-enrollment, seminar course for first-time freshmen, addressing current issues in Religious Studies. Course is designed to meet the critical thinking learning outcome of the KU Core. First-Year Seminar topics are coordinated and approved by the Office of First-Year Experience. Prerequisite: First-time freshman status. LEC.

REL/JWSH 323 Jewish World of Jesus.

TR 11-12:15pm. Smith 208. Zahn, Molly. Cap: 28.

An introduction to the figure of Jesus in his ancient Jewish context. What was Jewish life like in Jesus’s time? What did the early Jesus movement share with other forms of Judaism, and how did it differ? Evidence from the New Testament, the Dead Sea Scrolls, and other textual and archaeological sources will be used to explore the first-century Jewish society of which both Jesus and the first Christians were a part. (Same as JWSH 323.) LEC.

REL 350/AAAS 349 Islam.

ONLINE. 8/23/21-10/15/21. Brinton, Jackie. GTA: TBD. Cap of 65.

Islam's Origins, the prophet Muhammed, the Holy Koran, religious symbols and moral mandates, and historical developments. (Same as AAAS 349.) LEC.

REL 510/EALC 431/REL 847 Religion in Korea/Religion, Society, and Social Change.

TR 2:30-3:45pm. Smith 208. Lindsey, William. Cap of 28.

Survey of religious thought and practice in Korea from the Three Kingdoms period to the present. Prerequisite: REL 106/EALC 105; EALC 104; or permission of instructor. LEC. / This seminar explores issues regarding the social dimensions of religiosity/lived religion, ranging from aspects of religious institutionalization, authority, and normativity to alternative religiosities and alterity.


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