Course Schedule

Courses in Religious Studies address many dimensions and functions of religion within the world’s cultures. Among these are scriptures, ritual practices, beliefs, symbols, and ethics. Our courses also use multiple approaches (e.g., anthropology, cultural studies, history, sociology, hermeneutics, and critical theories of interpretation) to examine the dynamic relationships between religion and other social, economic, and political structures. Our courses foster a critical understanding of religious traditions, issues, questions, and values while cultivating awareness of religion’s multifaceted influence on societies and promoting appreciation for the diversity of practices and beliefs in modern and premodern societies.

Spring 2014 Classes

RELS 160 (several sections): Intro to Religion in Culture

RELS 201 (Brackett; 2 sections): Religion and Popular Culture

• MWF 1:00-1:50 and 2:00-2:50

RELS 210 (Agnew, 2 sections): Religion, Morality, and Public Debate

• TR 9:30-10:45 and 11:00-12:15

RELS 250 (Segroves): Introduction to Biblical Interpretation

• MWF 3:00-3:50

RELS 290 (Brackett): Topics in Asian Religions: Introducing "Hinduism"

• MWF 11:00-11:50 

RELS 380 (Agnew): Religion and Ethics: Religion, Nonviolence, and War

• TR 2:00-3:15 

Spring 2014 Descriptions

Religion and Popular Culture 

When and how do mundane practices of popular culture (e.g. sports, film, social media, video games, music, television, etc.) become religious or religious-like behaviors? How are ‘traditional religions’ engaging popular culture, and how does that alter ‘religion’? This course critically examines these and other intersections between religion and popular culture.

UCC Tier 2: W + R (no prerequisites)

RELS 201: Religion and Popular Culture - Dr. Brackett

Religion, Morality, and Public Debate

Is religion necessarily linked to morality, if so in what ways, and how are both related to law? This course will examine these questions with attention to the theme of “life”—beginnings, endings, and views on the good life. We will examine select topics (abortion, care for the sick and dying, care for strangers and for the environment), seeking to understand the role of religious traditions in framing the issues and arguments at the heart of public debates in America. Sources will be drawn primarily from Judaism, Christianity, and contemporary social thought.

UCC Tier-2: W + R (no prerequisites)

RELS 210: Religion, Morality, and Public Debate - Dr. Agnew

Introduction to Biblical Interpretation

This course is an introduction to biblical studies and biblical interpretation as an academic discipline. We will examine selected portions of the Bible—the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible and the New Testament– in order to analyze different types of writings/genres using various interpretative methods/approaches, such as historical, literary, rhetorical, and feminist criticism. We will consider the historical and social setting of the biblical texts in relation to the ancient Near East and the Greco–Roman Empire. Along the way, we will look at how the Bible has been interpreted in the modern era and how it has been used/appropriated in relation to social and political issues such as slavery and gender. No previous knowledge of the Bible is required or presumed.

UCC Tier-2, I + R (no prerequisites)

RELS 250: Introduction to Biblical Interpretation - Dr. Segroves

Topics in Asian Religions: Introducing "Hinduism" 

Many people assume that “belief” helps make sense of a religious tradition, but belief has serious limitations when studying religion. Asking what Hindus do, for example, is far more relevant for engaging in a study of Hindu traditions. In this course, we study “the life of Hinduism” in a variety of social, political, historical, artistic, personal, and cultural contexts.

UCC Tier-2, I + R (no prerequisites) 

RELS 290: Topics in Asian Religions: Introducing "Hinduism" - Dr. Brackett

Religion and Ethics: Religion, Nonviolence and War 

Religious traditions aspire to peace but within each there are diverse interpretations of how to attain this. What resources do traditions offer for addressing conflict nonviolently, and under what conditions is violence seen as justified? This course examines these questions in relationship to national and international conflicts in the 20th and 21st centuries. The course focuses on Western religious traditions of nonviolence and “just war,” but will also consider the influence in the West of modern Asian exemplars of nonviolence, including Mohandas Gandhi.

RELS 380: Religion and Ethics: Religion, Nonviolence and War - Dr. Agnew  

 

Fall 2013 Classes

RELS 160 (several sections): Intro to Religion in Culture

RELS 201 (Brackett; 2 sections): Religion and Popular Culture

• TR 9:30-10:45 and 11:00-12:15

RELS 210 (Agnew, 2 sections): Religion, Morality, and Public Debate

• MWF 1:00-1:50 and 2:00-2:50

RELS 280 (Agnew): Religion, Diversity, and American Life

• MWF 10:00-10:50

RELS 470 (Brackett): Ethnography of Religion

• TR 2:00-3:15

Fall 2013 Descriptions

Religion and Popular Culture

When and how do mundane practices of popular culture (e.g. sports, film, social media, video games, music, television, etc.) become religious or religious-like behaviors? How are ‘traditional religions’ engaging popular culture, and how does that alter ‘religion’? This course critically examines these and other intersections between religion and popular culture.

UCC Tier 2: W + R (no prerequisites)

RELS 201: Religion and Popular Culture - Dr. Brackett

Religion, Morality, and Public Debate

Is religion necessarily linked to morality, if so in what ways, and how are both related to law? This course will examine these questions with attention to the theme of “life”—beginnings, endings, and views on the good life. We will examine select topics (abortion, care for the sick and dying, care for strangers and for the environment), seeking to understand the role of religious traditions in framing the issues and arguments at the heart of public debates in America. Sources will be drawn primarily from Judaism, Christianity, and contemporary social thought.

UCC Tier-2: W + R (no prerequisites) 

RELS 210: Religion, Morality, and Public Debate - Dr. Agnew  

Religion, Diversity, and American Life 

Over 200 years ago, Thomas Jefferson wrote about a “wall of separation” between Church and State, but religious traditions and principles continue to play an important role in Americans’ reflections on pressing social and political issues. This course explores three such issues: the relationship between diversity and democracy, competing arguments in support of war and nonviolence, and the gap between wealth and poverty. The course explores a range of perspectives on these issues from within and across religious (and secular) traditions in America.

UCC Tier-2: R (no prerequisites) 

RELS 280: Religion, Diversity, and American Life - Dr. Agnew  

Ethnography of Religion

What can you learn about religion in Muncie by studying longhaired, naked, dope-smoking, ash-smeared, Hindu renouncers? Or, what about a female Muslim healer? A better question: what can’t you learn about religion in Muncie through looking at radically different religious worlds? These are but two lenses through which to ask, “What is religion, anyway?” “How do these ‘strange worlds’ help us make sense of religious practices in Muncie?” In this class you get to examine religious diversity in Muncie through fieldwork, add new materials to the course website, and learn more about yourself than you ever imagined. And, you do not need any background in Religious Studies to take this course!

RELS 470: Ethnography of Religion - Dr. Brackett  

Philosophy and Religious Studies
North Quad 204
Ball State University
Muncie, IN 47306

Hours: 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday (Summer Hours: 7:30 a.m.-4 p.m. weekdays)
Phone: 765-285-1244
Fax: 765-285-1245
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