Religious Studies examines the way a person or community makes sense out of life (world views) and the way a person or community acts out and lives in a world view (practices). The study of religion includes (1) exploration of the nature and meaning of the religious dimensions of human experience; (2) study of the major traditions which remember and transmit religious experience and expressions; (3) encouragement of an inquisitive, analytical and open approach to multiple religious perspectives; and (4) exploration of the ethical frameworks in various religious perspectives. Many graduates of Alma’s Religious Studies program have continued their studies in graduate schools or seminaries. Others have entered church work, chaplaincies, teaching, social work agencies, personnel offices, communications, journalism, law and business or have volunteered for service in VISTA and the Peace Corps.
- Thirty-six credits in Religious Studies including REL 100 and 400.
- Remaining program of study will be constructed on an individual basis in consultation with members of the department.
- Foreign language study (either ancient or modern, depending on the student’s academic interests) is strongly encouraged for all majors.
- Twenty-four credits in Religious Studies including REL 100 and 400.
- Remaining program of study will be constructed on an individual basis in consultation with members of the Department.
Four credits from REL, with the exception of practicum or independent study courses, count towards the Distributive Requirements in the Humanities.
- REL100.Introduction to World Religions4 creditsAn introduction to the histories, major figures, sacred texts and belief systems of selected “world religions” such as Hinduism, Confucianism, Daoism, Judaism, Jainism, Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, and/or newer religious movements such as Mormonism or Baha’i Faith.
- REL101.Introduction to the Hebrew Bible4 creditsIntroduction to the Hebrew Bible from its origins to the Babylonian Exile (587-6 B.C.); focuses on history, literature and interpretation. Examination of assumptions and methodology.
- REL102.Introduction to the New Testament4 creditsIntroduction to the New Testament, its history, environment, literature and interpretation. Formative years of Judaism and growth of the Christian community.
- REL103.Vocation in Christian Traditions4 creditsExamination of history of Christian thought and traditions from early church through modern period. Analysis and interpretation of selected documents.
- REL130.Creation Stories and the Religious Traditions4 creditsExamination of diverse creation myths from many cultures and the role cosmologies play in forming a culture’s worldview.
- REL150.Good Life in World’s Religions4 creditsExamination of what constitutes a good life according to Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam and Christianity.
- REL180-*380.Topics in Religion4 credits
- REL181-*381.Topics in Biblical Study4 creditsTopics may include Torah, Paul’s Letters, Prophetic and Wisdom Literature, Synoptic Gospels, and/or Biblical Ethics and Social Problems. May be repeated for credit for distinct topics.
- REL202-*302.Women, Gender and Religion4 credits1 REL course or Permission for 300 levelThis course addresses questions about women in various religious traditions and examines the ways feminist theory interacts with the study and practice of religion. (Cross listed with PHL 202.)
- REL205-*305.Christianity4 credits1 REL course or Permission for 300 levelAn introduction to Christian thought and practice from the first century to the present. Course includes reading, discussion, and written analysis of a variety of primary and secondary texts; individual and group work; off-campus site visits; and/or academic service learning.
- REL206-*306.Reformation4 credits1 REL course or Permission for 300 levelAn examination of the theological debates surrounding the Protestant and Catholic Reformations of 16th century Europe. Includes reading, discussion, and written analysis of various primary and secondary texts.
- REL207-*307.Religion in America4 credits1 REL course or Permission for 300 levelExamination of history of religious thought and traditions in America. Analysis and interpretation of selected documents. Non-traditional forms of religion also included.
- REL210.Biblical Ethics and Community Service4 creditsExamines the Biblical ethic which underlies the religious understanding, worship and community service of Jewish and Christian religious communities. Opportunities to participate in community service agencies and programs.
- REL215-*315.Philosophy of Religion4 credits1 REL course or Permission for 300 levelExamination of classical and contemporary issues in the philosophy of religion such as arguments for and against the existence of God, religious language, the relation between faith and reason, the evidential value of religious claims, and the relationship between morality and religion. (Cross listed with PHL 215.)
- REL216-*316.Existentialism4 credits1 REL course or Permission for 300 levelExamination, evaluation and discussion of selected subjects — the individual, freedom, responsibility, anxiety, hope, death, meaning of life — as treated in various essays, short stories and dramas. Focus on analysis and interpretation of texts. (Cross listed with PHL 216.)
- REL217-*317.Eastern Philosophy and Religion4 credits1 REL course or Permission for 300 levelExploration of the major religious traditions and philosophical systems of the Far East: Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, and Taoism. History, thought and contemporary role of these non-Western religions and philosophies. (Cross listed with PHL 217.)
- REL219-*319.Judaism and Islam4 credits1 REL course or Permission for 300 levelAn examination of Judaism and Islamic thought and practice from the formative periods to the present, including contemporary debates. Includes reading, discussion, and written analysis of various primary and secondary texts.
- REL*220.Bible and Society4 creditsPermissionExplores how the social context (ethnic, economic, class, etc.) of faith communities shapes the study, understanding, and use of scripture in worship and impacts the values and daily lives. Emphasis on lectionary readings shared by Protestants and Roman Catholics, and the Hebrew scriptures. (Cross listed with SOA 221).
- REL220-*320.Creation and Cosmology4 credits1 REL course or Permission for 300 levelExamination of diverse creation myths from many cultures and the role cosmologies play in forming a culture’s worldview.
- REL225.Environmental Ethics4 creditsExamination of ideas of nature, relation of humans to nature and human responsibilities to, for and with nature from Western (inherited and current), alternative Western (deep-ecology, ecofeminism, Gaia) and Eastern perspectives. Focus on understanding various environmental ethical perspectives and their personal, social and environmental consequences.
- REL230-*330.Religion and Science4 credits1 REL course or Permission for 300 levelExamination of the relationship between religion and science through both historical and contemporary issues. (Cross listed with PHL 230.)
- REL240-*340.Jesus in Gospel and Film4 credits1 REL course or Permission for 300 levelAn introduction to the context, life, and teaching of Jesus of Nazareth through the media of film, primary texts (canonical and non-canonical gospels), and secondary texts in biblical criticism.
- REL250-*350.Christian Ethics4 credits1 REL course or Permission for 300 levelAn exploration of current Christian debates on ethical issues such as human reproduction, homosexuality, pacifism and just war, racism, nationalism, genetic engineering, and/or economic and environmental justice. Prior knowledge of Christian traditions is helpful but not required.
- REL280-*380.Special Topics in Religious Studies4 credits1 REL course or Permission for 300 levelSpecial topics in Religious Studies will be explored.
- REL281-*381.Special Topics in Biblical Studies4 credits1 REL course or Permission for 300 levelSpecial topics in Biblical Studies will be explored.
- REL299.Independent Study2-4 creditsPermission
- REL*385-*386.Practicum2-6 creditsPermission
- REL*399.Independent Study2-6 creditsPermissionIndividual study of particular subject in religion. Intensive acquaintance with selected part of the literature through planned program of reading.
- REL*400.Theory and Method in Religious Studies4 creditsREL 100Upper level seminar addresses current issues in the field of religious studies (such as postmodernism, postcolonialism, disability studies, and/or queer theory), approaching these issues with a variety of disciplinary methods (such as historical, theological, phenomenological, ethical, and/or anthropological). Required for, but not limited to, majors and minors in religious studies.
- REL*500.Senior Thesis4 creditsPermissionIndividual research culminating in preparation of major paper and departmental oral examination. Required for departmental honors.