Please note that not every course listed is offered each year and students should consult STU Self Service for current course offerings.


I. Introductory Course

RELG-1006. Introduction to Religious Studies

A thematic, issues-oriented introduction to the study of religions. Some of the themes and issues explored may include social crisis and renewal, authority and power, sexual diversity, conflict and peace, evil and suffering, death and after death, food and music, among others. By means of these themes, students develop an active appreciation of diverse religious traditions and gain the tools to think critically about them.

II The Second Level: The Tools

RELG-2423. Introduction to Ritual Studies II

A continuation of the inquiry begun in Introductory Ritual Studies I.

II. Intermediate and Advanced Courses | 1. Multi-Religious Courses

RELG-2133. Religion and Ecology (ENVS 2133)

Many religious traditions display a variety of stances towards the environmental crisis, ranging from indifference to reform. Through critical and comparative study, this course explores religious approaches to ecology in a variety of traditions. Topics may include environmental stewardship, deep ecology, ecoliberation, ecofeminism and ethnic indigenous ecology.

RELG-2163. Contemporary Perspectives on Science and Religion

This course examines the recent debates over the relation between science and religion. The last five years of the 20th Century have seen a resurgence of interest in this relation. This has been sparked by developments in the sciences, particularly in physics and genetics, as well as by a newly-emerging understanding of what science is. The central questions include whether science and religion are compatible and whether recent developments in the sciences give new answers to eligious and theological questions. Readings will represent all sides of these debates.

RELG-2173. Religion, Conflict and Peacebuilding

Throughout the world, most religious traditions are involved both in legitimating violence and in building peace. This course critically and comparatively explores the roles of religious leaders, symbols, discourses and actions in conflict-prone settings. Topics may be related to identity-based conflict, genocide, post-conflict reform and reconciliation.

RELG-2183. Religion and Politics

Religious traditions and actors mobilize and in turn are mobilized by political movements at international, national, and community-based levels. Within a multi religious and comparative framework, this course explores the way in which religious and political identities, actors and systems interact on issues related, for instance, to religiously-based political parties, democratization movements, nationalism, fundamentalism and the politics of resistance.

RELG-2193. New Religious Movements: Cults in the New Age

New religious movements often challenge the values and vision of mainstream religious traditions. This course is a collaborative inquiry into the historical and cultural contexts, self-understanding and practices of such new religious movements as the Church of Scientology, the Branch Davidians, the International Society for Krisha Consciousness, Euro-Indians, and the Vineyard Renewal.

RELG-2233. Women and Religion (WSGS)

The course aims to study how i) women in history and in modern times respond to socio-cultural restrictions and their attempts to create spiritual and social alternatives, ii) how notions of asceticism and sexuality are utilized as liberating and prescriptive modes. It will examine feminist critiques to classical, medieval, and current texts and thinkers. We will closely look at the assumptions that guide both classical texts and modern critiques.

RELG-2273. Death and Dying

This course explores a wide range of topics in the area of death and dying. As a fundamental issue for human beings, these phenomena require investigation from a variety of perspectives. The course considers aspects of death and dying that are religious, philosophical, psychological, and sociological in nature. Further, the course is concerned with both practical and theoretical issues that arise from the relationship between aging, and death and dying.

RELG-2283. Religion and Art

Focusing primarily on the Western religious traditions, this course will examine the art and architecture of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam in historical context. Themes to be studied may include: the image of the Divine, iconoclasm, shrines and pilgrimages, patronage, the appropriation of sacred space, sacred music, performance art, and food.

RELG-2293. Religion and Sexuality (WSGS)

An examination of the understanding of the nature of human sexuality with specific reference to religious and theological frameworks. Issues studied may include sexuality as foundational in personal dignity and integrity, marriage, relationality, communication, the commodification of sexuality, systematic abuses and neglect of sexuality.

RELG-2683. Sp. Top: Religions and Climate Change

Alongside other pressing issues such as deforestation, bio-diversity loss and water scarcity, climate change is generating a wide range of global and national responses. These responses are not just scientific, economic or political, but also cultural, religious and spiritual. The purpose of this course is to explore the increasing range and complexity of diverse religious responses to climate change across a variety of traditions (indigenous, hindu, buddhist, christian, muslim, or neo-pagan, among other options). Much of the analysis within and across traditions seeks to account for patterns of indifference, skepticism, and engagement on this issue. Related to organizational networks, values, symbols and texts, the multi-religious engagement in mitigating the drivers while adapting to the impacts of climate change provides the primary focus of this course.

RELG-3233. LGBTQ2S+ with/out Religion(s) (WSGS)

This course explores how queer sexual identities and religious identities dynamically and diversely intersect each other. Multi-religious in scope, this course examines how transgender as well as LGB people continue to question, resist, leave, identify with, or even struggle to reform religion(s) and adapt their spiritualities. This course takes into account historical and contemporary religious trends that align both with heterosexist negativity as well as affirmative support for queer sexual diversities.

RELG-3513. Bioethics

This course explores the basic approaches and issues related to the field of bioethics. A specific emphasis on contemporary medical practice will provide the context for ethical reflection.

RELG-3573. Religion and Social Ethics

The study of the relationships which shape the nature of human interaction informed by or oriented towards values and specific goals. The role of religious beliefs and communities in analyzing and responding to economic, social, and political problems will be examined.

RELG-3593. Moral Development

An examination of the processes and elements through which persons develop a critical perspective and appreciation of the role of value in their lives and in the social order. This course requires students to have completed previous work in ethics.

RELG-3953. Portrayals of Jihad and Crusade: History, Memory and Film (HIST)

This course considers the diverse ways in which modern global audiences have come to understand histories of religious violence. Our focus will be on academic and popular interpretations of so-called jihad or crusade conflicts from the Middle Ages to the present. Print, electronic and film sources will be examined, reflecting a wide range of often conflicting viewpoints as they have evolved over time.

RELG-4163. Independent Study

A course of independent study under the supervision of the Religious Studies Department. Students will normally collaborate on a description of the study project with the staff member or members who will guide the independent study. This description must be approved by the Department Chair and submitted to the registrar for his records.

II. Intermediate and Advanced Courses | 2. Tradition-Specific Courses

RELG-2253. Islam in an Age of Globalization

In their responses to modernity, Muslims have variously chosen: a return to traditionalism; a reinterpretation of Islam; secular responses separating religion and state; or some combination of the above. This course examines these responses to modernity in their cultural contexts. Themes will include: issues of gender; notions of democracy in Islam; Muslims living in the West; the rise of fundamentalisms; the globalization of Sufi orders.

RELG-2353. Introduction to the Qur'an

The Qur'an is understood by Muslims to be the direct word of God as revealed to the Prophet Muhammad. This 7th-century Arabic text continues to serve as a guidance for all Muslims. This course will examine the role of the Qur'an in the Islamic world: its history, methods and differences of interpretation. It will further explore the significance and impact of the written word in art and architecture.

RELG-2433. Christianity and Ecology

The many diverse traditions within Christianity display a wide and conflicting range of positions related to ecological issues and the environmental crisis. Through critical and comparative study, this course will explore the response of diverse Christian traditions to ecological issues such as climate change, water security, biodiversity, deforestation and environmental activism. The range of responses display, among others, themes of environmental stewardship, deep ecology, ecojustice, ecofeminism and indifferentism.

RELG-2513. Foundations of Christian Ethics

An examination of the theoretical base and the significance of Christian ethics with an analysis of some of its central aspects such as the foundational role of love, critical thought and engagement, conscience and responsibility, and understanding contemporary dilemmas.

RELG-2553. History of the Islamic World to the Ottoman Empire (HIST)

This course provides a basic introduction to Islamic societies in their formative centuries. We will explore how the Muslim umma first emerged, developed and ultimately established itself as a unifying yet far from monolithic ideal, linking different peoples across the globe. Our focus will be on comprehension of historical experiences and relations between peoples rather than on detailed analysis of religious beliefs.

RELG-2613. Basic Issues in Theology

An introduction to the basic precepts, methods, and resources of theology. An examination of challenges to theology will provide an understanding of the present state of theological concerns.

RELG-3073. Islam I

This course will introduce students to the basic beliefs and practices of global Islam, beginning with the life of the Prophet Muhammad and the revelation of the Qur'an. The course will include overviews of Islamic history, knowledge, and spirituality. Special attention will be paid to the study of Islam in its cultural contexts: Middle Eastern, African, Asian, European, and North American, among others.

RELG-3223. The Medieval Church (HIST)

This course deals with the history of the Church from the time of Gregory the Great in the sixth century to the end of the fifteenth century. For the most part, we will deal with the Western Church, although there will be some treatment of the relations that existed with the East. The theme that will run throughout the course is that of the interaction between the Church and the society of this period.

RELG-3323. Book of Isaiah

This course will study the book of Isaiah as an example of prophetic literature. It will treat such questions as the authorship, dating, unity, background, and theology of the book. Particular passages will be singled out for more detailed study.

RELG-3343. Gospel of John

This course will study the gospel of John as one of the four canonical gospels. It will treat such questions as authorship, dating, background, sources, and theology of the gospel. Particular passages will be singled out for more detailed study.

RELG-3413. God in Western Thought (PHIL)

A survey, through lectures, readings, and discussion, of Western philosophical speculation regarding the divine. Themes: theism and atheism in classical antiquity; demonstrations of God's existence in medieval philosophy; the effect on religious belief of empiricism, idealism, Marxism, and existentialism. Prerequisite: PHIL 1013 and 1023, or permission of the instructor.

RELG-3433. Religions of Tibet, China and Japan

We shall investigate what scholars are saying about the religious traditions of China and Japan: Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, Shinto, and the popular religions.

RELG-3453. Religious Traditions of India I

An inquiry into the religious traditions of India, including Hinduism in its many varieties, early Buddhism, and Jainism.

RELG-3533. Islam in the West (Art & Arch. in NYC)

This course examines the physical presence of Islam in New York City. Students will tour the mosques of New York, visit collections of Islamic art and manuscripts, observe ritual music and dance, and taste food from around the Muslim world. Themes will include spiritual Islamic art, Islam in the West, and North American Muslims today. The goal of the course is to provide students with material objects that will enrich their understanding of culture.

RELG-3553. Islamic Ethics and Spirituality

This course will look at the various forms of Islamic spirituality, as expressed by individuals and organized orders. It will explore the symbolic path of the mystic and how it coalesced with popular piety and sainthood. It will also look at the ethical systems of rational mystics who combined theology, philosophy, and mysticism.

RELG-3653. Women and Christianity (WSGS)

Women's rights, gender sensitivities, and feminist movements both inside and outside the churches have inspired lively and complex debates within contemporary Christian theologies. By deconstructing, revising and rebuilding basic issues in theology on the basis of women's experiences and gender analysis, a substantial range of feminist theologies has emerged. This course will explore theological themes and interests central to the diversity of feminist theologies.

RELG-4173. Independent Study

A course of independent study under the supervision of the Religious Studies Department. Students will normally collaborate on a description of the study project with the staff member or members who will guide the independent study. This description must be approved by the Department Chair and submitted to the registrar for his records.

III The Third Level: The Streams | 2nd: Roman Catholic Traditions

RELG-3353. Christian Liturgy and Sacramental Life

All world religions strive to sustain and intensify the lives of their followers through rituals which put them in contact with the purifying and nourishing power of the sacred. The Christian religion does this primarily in the rituals of Baptism and Eucharist. This course will attempt to examine this ritual process in terms of an evolutionary understanding of reality.

RELG-3373. Jesus the Christ as Understood Throughout History

After reviewing the interpretations of Jesus Christ in the councils of the early Church and in the works of the reformers of the sixteenth century, the course will focus on the Christian interpretations of Jesus as found in the contemporary authors such as Rahner, Schillebeeckx, MacQuarrie, and Pannenberg.

III The Third Level: The Streams | 3rd: World’s Religions

III. Specialized Courses | 1. Tools Courses

RELG-2243. Texts & Contexts

This course will explore the interaction between text and context of several writings deemed to be sacred, whether traditional or not, from a variety of religious traditions. Attention will also be paid to the particular situations and conditions in which these texts are created and received.

RELG-2313. Introduction to the Hebrew Bible

This course will provide an introduction to the study of the Hebrew Bible, commonly referred to by Christians as the Old Testament. A first chapter will provide an overview of the history of Israel from the early centuries of the second millennium B.C. to the end of the first century A.D. A second chapter will look at the various canonical collections of scriptural books accepted by the Samaritans, the Palestinian Jews, the Jews of the Diaspora and Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant Christians.

RELG-2333. Introduction to the New Testament

This course will investigate the history of the growth of the New Testament Canon of twenty seven books and then study two major categories of New Testament books: the Gospels and the Pauline Corpus. Several special questions including the Synoptic Question, the relationship between John and the Synoptics and the authenticity of the Pauline Corpus will be briefly introduced.

RELG-2413. Ritual Studies

An inquiry into some of the issues in the study of rituals by means of a close investigation of selected religious rites and more secular examples of ritualizing. Examples might include Hindu pilgrimage, Christian liturgy in its many forms, Shinto festivals, rites of passage from childhood to adulthood (Bar Mitzvah in Judaism, sacred thread ceremony in Hinduism, the Isanaklesh Gotal of Apache girls), Taoist death rites, and contemporary behaviour at sporting events and music concerts.

III. Specialized Courses | 2. Research Methodology Courses

RELG-2003. Exploring History Critical Approaches to Historical Methods and Theories

This mandatory course for History Majors and Honours students provides an introduction to the discipline of History. The course examines a variety of historiographical and methodological approaches to History, as well as the history of History. It encourages students to re-examine their assumptions about History, but it will also help students develop their basic historical research and writing skills. Exploring History provides a foundation for upper-year History courses and students are strongly encouraged to take it before their third year. Prerequisite: At least 6 credit hours in History courses at St. Thomas University.

RELG-2013. Social Research Methods (SOCI)

An introduction to the main research techniques used in sociology. The course will include practical experience in research design, methods of data collection, sampling procedures, and analysis of data.

RELG-3053. Qualitative Research Methods (GERO) (HMRT) (PSYC) (SOCI)

This course is intended for third-year Honours students who are considering using qualitative analysis in the research for their Honours thesis. It will address theoretical foundations of qualitative analysis, research ethics for qualitative researchers, and provide hands-on experience in developing a research question and collecting and analyzing data using basic qualitative techniques including observation, in-depth interviewing, and unobtrusive measures.

III. Specialized Courses|3. Multidisciplinary Courses

RELG-2223. Psychology of Religion

The examination of religious experience drawing from the classic approaches to psychology such as William James, Sigmund Freud, and Carl Jung, and their contemporary interpreters.

RELG-3423. Reason and Religion (PHIL)

A survey of issues and authors, both classical and contemporary, in the philosophy of religion. Consideration will be given to the following: defining religion, religious experience and faith, the problem of evil, the meaning of religious language, the question of life beyond death. Prerequisite: PHIL 1013 and 1023, or permission of the instructor.

III. Specialized Courses | 4. Majors and Honours Required Seminars

RELG-4023. Scope and Methods

An in-depth analysis of selected issues in Religious Studies, focusing on the distinctive concerns of the discipline and the furthering of research skills appropriate to it. The course fosters reflection on the variety of methods used in Religious Studies, mindful of the need of senior students to integrate their four years of learning in the discipline. Honours students are normally required to take this course in their third year, Majors students in their fourth year, of full-time study.

RELG-4033. Honours Thesis Proposal Seminar

Designed for students who are considering advanced study, this course will consider a variety of research strategies in the field of Religious Studies. The final project will be an Honours thesis proposal. Normally taken in the second semester of a student's third year, this course is required for continuation into the Honours programme.

RELG-4066. Honours Thesis

The student will select an advisor from the Department members before the end of the second semester in his or her third year of studies. The student, in consultation with his or her advisor, will submit a thesis proposal which must be approved by the Department by the end of the student's third year of studies. The thesis is written in the fourth year of studies.

V Cross-Listed Courses: Western Christian Traditions

RELG-3213. The Early Church

This course deals with the beginnings and early development of the Christian Church up to the end of the sixth century and the time of Gregory the Great. During this period, we will examine such things as the early spreading of the Church to the West, the relations between the Church and the Roman Empire, and then the relations with the Germanic Kingdoms. An effort will be made to point out the impact that these different cultures had on the developing Church. We will also examine the emergence of institutions such as the papacy and monasticism. In the course of this semester, there will also be a brief look at doctrinal and liturgical developments in the Early Church.