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Religious Studies

Religious Studies

FOR INFORMATION contact
George P. Alcser, M.A.
Madame Cadillac Building, MC 350
Direct: (313) 927-1351
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

PROGRAMS OFFERED
Bachelor of Arts, Major in Religious Studies (B.A.)
Religious Studies Minor
See also Sacred Music

FACULTY
George P. Alcser, M.A.
Mary Ellen McClanaghan, Ph.D.
   (Professor Emerita)
Anneliese Sinnott, OP, Ph.D.
   (Adjunct Associate Professor)
Rev. Loren Scribner, Ph.D.
   (Adjunct Associate Professor)
Rev. Michael Nabors, D. Min.
   (Adjunct Associate Professor)

Religious Studies Overview

POTENTIAL CAREERS
Advocacy • Chaplaincy • Church Ministry • Community Service • Consultancy • Counseling • Religious Education
• Religious Journalism • Research • Teaching

GENERAL INFORMATION
The Department of Religious Studies offers an undergraduate program that explores the religious dimension in human life and the role of religion in human affairs. Our study is both historical and contemporary, in that we seek to understand religion today, in all Its variety, as an outgrowth of its past context. Our study is both comparative and critical, in that we seek to understand the actual impact of religion on society.

The academic study of religion is integral to a liberal education. It provides you with an opportunity to discover the breadth of religious experience, sharpen your appreciation of diversity in human culture, and probe questions of human values.

While we emphasize the Christian context, with particular attention to the Catholic tradition, we encourage you to explore, understand, and appreciate the variety of faiths and religious communities.

SPECIFIC INFORMATION
Majors in art, child development, dance, education, history, music, psychology and social work find religious studies professionally enhancing. In fact, many students choose a double major, combining religious studies with another area to achieve their educational goals.

In addition to standard courses, you may wish to benefit from individualized directed study, independent study, field education, service learning, study abroad, and co-op learning. Students with appropriate professional experi­ence may receive limited credit for their prior experiential learning. Cumulative average of 3.0 (B) or better in the major or minor courses is required.

CAREER INFORMATION
Religious studies is an excellent foundation for a career in an education-related field, or in human services.

A concentration in religious studies is most often required for professional careers in church ministry, e.g. counsel­ing, youth ministry, social outreach, teaching, and worship.

Your studies will also prepare you for positions of lead­ership in education, health care, religious journalism, publishing and other community services.

You may wish to pursue graduate studies in pasto­ral ministry, religious education, religious studies or theology to qualify for positions in higher education, research, and consulting.

 

Religious Studies Course Descriptions

RS 150 Religion in the World                                                                             3 hours
General Education option. Prerequisite: None; Term I, II, Summer.
Exploration of religious practices as pervasive phe­nomena that have influenced human life and continue to play a significant role in all societies of the world.

RS 225A Development of Christianity: Beginnings to the Reformation       3 hours
Prerequisite: None.
Introductory overview of the history of the Christian church, with emphasis on the historical continuity and the cultural diversity of the Christian movement. Chris­tianity from the beginning through the period preceding the Reformation.

RS 225B Development of Christianity: Reformation to the Present              3 hours
Prerequisite: None.
Historical overview of the Christian movement from the upheaval of the Reformation, through the development of various Christian denominations, the worldwide spread of Christianity and the rise of the ecumenical movement, to present-day forms of Christian identity.

RS 150 Religion in the World                                                                             3 hours
General Education option. Prerequisite: None; Term I, II, Summer.
Exploration of religious practices as pervasive phe­nomena that have influenced human life and continue to play a significant role in all societies of the world.

RS 225A Development of Christianity: Beginnings to the Reformation        3 hours
Prerequisite: None.
Introductory overview of the history of the Christian church, with emphasis on the historical continuity and the cultural diversity of the Christian movement. Chris­tianity from the beginning through the period preceding the Reformation.

RS 225B Development of Christianity: Reformation to the Present              3 hours
Prerequisite: None.
Historical overview of the Christian movement from the upheaval of the Reformation, through the development of various Christian denominations, the worldwide spread of Christianity and the rise of the ecumenical movement, to present-day forms of Christian identity.

RS 226 Black Religion in the Americas                                                             3 hours
General Education option. Prerequisite: None. Term: annually
Historical overview of Black religious traditions in the modern West, with special attention to the USA and em­phasis on the emergence of Baptist, Methodist and Pentecostal traditions and the development of black forms of expression. Social movements such as the Haitian Revolution, slave revolts and the Civil War, the Civil Rights and Black Power movements, the formation of the Black Muslims, Black Theology, and African struggles for independence.

RS 227    Religion in America                                                                            3 hours
General Education option. Prerequisite: none; Term: annually
Historical study of the development of various religious traditions in the United States, with emphasis on the major traditions of Christianity. Topics include the French, Spanish and English Catholic influence; the Puritans; the religious backgrounds of the founders; smaller churches and sects; the revival movement; the separation of church and state; civil religion; Pentecostalism; contemporary religious pluralism.

RS 228 Catholicism in the United States                                                          3 hours
Prerequisite: None
Historical survey of Roman Catholicism in the United States from the colonial period to the present. The course includes an introduction to the beliefs and practices of the Catholic tradition, with special emphasis on both the cultural and theological diversity within the tradition. The relationship of Roman Catholicism to other denominations and faith communities.

RS 230 Introduction to the Hebrew Scriptures                                                3 hours
Prerequisite: None; Term: alternate years.
Survey of sacred literature commonly called the Old Testament by Christians. Selected readings from the Law, the Prophets, and the Writings introduce students to the cultural and historical background of the texts, as well as to their rich religious meaning.

RS 240 Introduction to the Christian Scriptures                                              3 hours
Prerequisite: None; Term: alternate years.
Survey of sacred literature commonly called the New Testament by Christians. Analysis of selected readings emphasizes diverse literary and theological themes and styles. Study of the cultural and historical influences on the texts leads to an appreciation of the diversity of sources and traditions.

RS 241 Christian Scriptures: Synoptic Gospels                                               3 hours
Prerequisite: None.
An introductory study of the general biblical sources and traditions behind the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke. With emphasis on the texts of Matthew and Mark, we seek a literary and theological understanding and explore the relationship among these three gospels commonly known as the synoptic problem.

RS 242 Christian Scriptures: The Writings of Luke                                          3 hours
Prerequisite: None.
An introductory study of general biblical sources and traditions seeking a literary and theological understanding of the Gospel according to Luke and of the Acts of the Apostles.

RS 243 Christian Scriptures: Revelation and the Writings of John                3 hours
Prerequisite: None.
An introductory study of general biblical sources and traditions seeking a literary and theological understanding of the five works considered Johannine. Special attention is given to the apocalyptic literature and its symbolism.

RS 250 Jesus the Christ                                                                                      3 hours
Prerequisite: None; Term: annually.
Theological and historical analysis of the interpretation of Jesus of Nazareth as the Christ of faith, ranging from his contemporaries to the present.

RS 265 Worship in the African-American Tradition                                          3 hours
Prerequisite: none.|
Study of various art forms and ritual expressions that arise out of the Black diaspora. Historical analysis of slave worship, the emergence of distinctive call-response and preaching styles, the emphasis on percussion and rhythm, and the continuous effort to relate worship to the world of work, the fight for freedom, and the struggle to survive.

RS 291 Independent Study                                                                                 1-3 hours
Prerequisites: ENG 108, LS 105, permission of the instructor, by arrangement with department.
Focused study of student-selected topic in consultation with instructor.

RS 310 Christianity and Atheism                                                                        3 hours
Prerequisites: ENG 108, LS 105.
Examination of classical and modern forms of faith and unbelief; attitudes, circumstances, and reasons that sup­port Christian faith, agnosticism, or atheism.

RS 326 African-American Religious Thought                                                    3 hours
Prerequisites: ENG 108, LS 105; Term: alternate years.
A historical overview of the sources and development of African-American religious thought, including the distinc­tive features, most original insights, and significant contemporary themes and concerns of Black Theology.

RS 330 Religion and Science at the Frontiers                                                   3 hours
Prerequisites: ENG 108, LS 105; recommended: 1 science/lab course‚ 1 RS course; Fee: yes
This multi-disciplinary course examines the past and present relationships between religion and the sciences. Topics include: models and paradigms; creation; evolution; consciousness; freedom; purpose; values. You will ex­plore seeming conflicts and contradictions‚ seek possible resolutions‚ and discover how both religion and science‚ though distinctive‚ may complement one another.

RS 360 Christianity, Ecumenism, and Inter-Religious Encounter                   3 hours
Prerequisites: ENG 108, LS 105
Investigation into the origins and distinctive features of various Christian denominations, including the movement toward unity, recent efforts toward cooperation among various church communities, and the new horizon of dialog and mutual learning with other world religions. Writing intensive course.

RS 367 Religion and Politics in the 21st Century                                             3 hours
Prerequisites: Introductory course(s) in social science and religious studies; ENG 108, LS 105
With an initial focus on the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and its changing application over the last few decades, this course explores the relationships between religion and politics in the USA as well as in other cultures and societies.

RS 375 Native American Spirituality                                                                  3 hours
Prerequisites: ENG 108, LS 105.
In this course, you will explore how Native people were able to blend Christianity and their Native beliefs into something that represents both belief systems. You will study some of the ceremonies and ancient creation sto­ries that contributed to the spiritual and intellectual growth of the Americas. You will learn how the Native American concepts of respect for everything in nature, with harmony as the ultimate goal, are expressed in everyday life.

RS 380 Religion and Society                                                                               3 hours
Prerequisites: ENG 108, LS 105.
Focus on the theological bases of social ethics, how social ethics is articulated in sacred writings, and on the moral dimensions of controversial issues and the decision-making process. Writing intensive course.

RS 381 Problems in Christian Social Ethics                                                      1-6 hours
Prerequisites: ENG 108, LS 105
Study of selected issues and problems in the context of Christian ethical convictions. Topics vary. A maximum of six credits may be earned in combination of different modules.

RS 384 Faith and Human Development                                                              3 hours
Prerequisites: ENG 108, PSY 205.
Investigation of the process of faith development as it integrates with the psychological, moral and cognitive stages of development within each person. Each stage of the life cycle is examined with implications of this devel­opmental process for religious education. Writing intensive course.

RS 386 Religious Education and Ministry: Field Experience                           1-9 hours            
Prerequisites: ENG 108, LS 105, by arrangement with the department.
Specialized projects and/or in-service experience in religious education and ministry.

RS 395 Directed Study                                                                                         1-3 hours
Prerequisites: ENG 108, LS 105, permission of the instructor.
Directed study of a topic in an area of the student’s choice.

RS 491 Independent Study                                                                                  1-3 hours
Prerequisites: Permission of the instructor, by arrangement with the department.
In-depth advanced research on student-selected topic in consultation with instructor.

RS 496 Senior Research Project                                                                         3-4 hours
Prerequisites: Religious Studies major; by arrangement with the department; completion of 21 credit hours in religious studies, including all other major requirements.
Advanced investigation of a significant issue in Religious Studies. Formal presentation of findings to students and faculty. May be done departmentally or interdepartmentally.

Bachelor of Arts, Religious Studies Major (B.A.)

The Bachelor of Arts with a major in religious studies requires a minimum of 30 credit hours in religious stud­ies and completion of the following components:

A. General Education Requirements

See page 48.

B. Required Religious Studies Courses

RS 150            Religion in the World

RS 250            Jesus the Christ

RS 384            Faith and Human Development

RS 496            Senior Research Project

One course from among:

RS 310            Christianity and Atheism

RS 326            African-American Religious Thought

RS 360            Christian Diversity, Ecumenism, and

                           Inter- Religious Encounter

One course from among:

RS 230            Introduction to the Hebrew Scriptures

RS 240            Introduction to the Christian Scriptures

RS 241            Christian Scriptures: Synoptic Gospels

RS 242            Christian Scriptures: The Writings of Luke

RS 243            Christian Scriptures: Revelation and the Writings of John

Select courses totaling at least 12 credit hours from the following. At least six credit hours must be at the 300 level or above.

RS 225A         Development of Christianity: Beginnings to the Reformation

RS 225B         Development of Christianity: Reformation to the Present

RS 226            Black Religion in the Americas

RS 227            Religion in America

RS 228            Catholicism in the United States

RS 230            Introduction to the Hebrew Scriptures

RS 240            Introduction to the Christian Scriptures

RS 241            Christian Scriptures: Synoptic Gospels

RS 242            Christian Scriptures: The Writings of Luke

RS 243            Christian Scriptures: Revelation and the Writings of John

RS 265            Worship in the African-American Tradition

RS 291            Independent Study

RS 310            Christianity and Atheism

RS 326            African-American Religious Thought

RS 330            Religion and Science at the Frontiers

RS 360            Christian Diversity, Ecumenism, and Inter-Religious Encounter

RS 367            Religion and Politics in the 21st Century

RS 380            Religion and Society

RS 381            Problems in Christian Social Ethics

RS 386            Religious Education and Ministry: Field     Experience  

RS 395            Directed Study

RS 491            Independent Study

C. Minor

D. Electives

Religious Studies Minor

The minor in religious studies requires 20 credit hours in religious studies, including:

A. Required Courses:

RS 150            Religion in the World

RS 250            Jesus the Christ

B. One course from among:

RS 310            Christianity and Atheism

RS 326            African-American Religious Thought  

RS 360            Christian Diversity, Ecumenism, and Inter-Religious Encounter

C. One course from among:

RS 230            Introduction to the Hebrew Scriptures

RS 240            Introduction to the Christian Scriptures

RS 241            Christian Scriptures: Synoptic Gospels

RS 242            Christian Scriptures: The Writings of Luke

RS 243            Christian Scriptures: Revelation and the Writings of John

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