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.
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
Religion and Popular CultureWhen 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
Spring 2013 Classes
RELST 160 (several sections): Intro to Religion in Culture
RELST 299X (Marchal; 2 sections): Sex and the Bible
• MWF 1:00-1:50, 2:00-2:50
RELST 390 (Ritzinger): Karma—new topic, new faculty member
• TR 3:30-4:45
RELST 450 (Agnew): Religion, Philanthropy and Pluralism
• TR 9:30-10:45
Spring 2013 Descriptions
Sex and the Bible
What does the Bible say about sex? Or about marriage, polygamy, prostitution, or even celibacy? Is sex in all of these? If so, which kinds of sex (and which kinds of marriage)? This course will consider all of these questions and many more; and the answers are sure to surprise you.
RELS 299X: Sex and the Bible - Dr. Marchal
Karma is one of the most central doctrines of Buddhism and by far the most viral. From coffee shop tip jars to My Name is Earl, the concept has become familiar to many. But what is karma? How does it work? What does it mean to live in a karmic universe? This course will examine these questions through a consideration of Buddhist history, doctrine, ritual, ethics, and narrative.
RELS 390: Karma - Dr. Ritzinger
Religion, Philanthropy and Pluralism
Religious traditions seek to promote human welfare, but interpret this in a variety of ways. What resources do traditions offer for reflecting on welfare and responding to need? What challenges arise for religious giving, and philanthropy more broadly, in light of principles of justice and the fact of cultural diversity? This course examines these questions as they take shape in the United States and in select international contexts. The focus is on Western religious and philosophical approaches to the practice of charity, philanthropy, and social obligation. The course will enable students to think about their own relationship to philanthropy as a vital source for social change. There are no prerequisites for this course.
RELS 450: Religion, Philanthropy and Pluralism - Dr. Agnew
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