Religious Studies

The Faculty
Julius Bailey
Karen Derris
Frances Grace
William B. Huntley
Lillian Larsen
John Walsh

The Major
The study of religious traditions explores the religious beliefs, actions, and cultural practices of individuals and communities across the world and throughout history. In the course of their studies, our students gain an inter-cultural literacy and an appreciation for the worldviews of other peoples and communities, as well as their own. Religious Studies courses approach the study of religion from a variety of disciplinary perspectives. Students are invited to critically consider the spiritual, historical, literary, ethical, doctrinal, contemplative and social dimensions of religious people and practice. Through engaging the study of religions in an academic context, we seek to generate respect for the religious lives of all traditions. While many students find the study of religion is important for reflecting upon their own religious identity, no particular religious position is privileged or assumed in any of our courses.

Learning outcomes for this program may be found at www.redlands.edu/BA-REL/learning-outcomes.

Bachelor of Arts

A major consists of ten courses and the senior capstone. The ten courses are to be fulfilled from the categories listed below.

One Introductory Course in Foundations of Religious Studies

Foundational courses provide students with a framework for understanding religious traditions and introduce students to the methods and approaches used to study religion. Please note: the courses listed below can be taken or the equivalent determined in consultation with a departmental advisor. 

REL 125 Introduction to World Religions (4 Credits)

By studying major religious traditions of the world, students will consider how religious traditions guide the way people live their lives in an ever increasingly diverse and religiously pluralistic world. Investigations will include both historical studies and the writings of religious traditions.

REL 131 American Religious History (4 Credits)

Exploration of religion in America from the pre-colonial era to the present. Emphases will vary, drawing from a variety of religious communities (including Puritan, Native American, Muslim, Buddhist, African American, Hindu, Evangelical, Catholic, and Neo-Pagan) and issues (such as civil rights, “cults,” church/state, gender, race, and ethnicity).

Two Courses in Cultures and Communities

Courses in Cultures and Communities introduce students to the diverse worlds in which religious communities have found—and continue to find—their form. Please note: the courses listed below can be taken or a topics course approved by departmental advisor. 

REL 126 Asian Religions in Southern California (3 Credits)

Exploration of the dynamic Asian religious landscape of Southern California. Focus upon the preservation and transformation of received traditions as religious communities develop in Southern California. Consideration of the religious lives and experiences of immigrant communities and converted practitioners of Buddhism, Hinduism, and Taoism. 
Offered as needed.

REL 145 Introduction to Islam (4 Credits)

This course introduces the foundational religious tenets that guide Islamic teaching and practice. Its aim is to provide students with a deeper understanding of the historical emergence and contemporary importance of Islamic thought, culture, legal systems, communal formation, and spiritual traditions.
Recommended: REL 125. 
Offered as needed. 
Numeric and Evaluation grade only. 

REL 165 Islam in America (4 Credits)

This course will provide a thorough historical understanding of the roots of Islam in America and the situation of contemporary American Muslims in a post 9/11 world.
Recommended: REL 125 or REL 131.
Offered as needed. 

REL 189 Religion and Popular Culture (3-4 Credits)

This course analyzes the interconnectedness of religion and popular culture and what it can tell us about the nature of religion in America.
Offered as needed.
Numeric and evaluation grade options.

REL 199 Cults and Sects: the History of New Religious Movements in America (4 Credits)

Offers an introduction to the variety of new religious movements. Examines the multiple ways these communities have been understood and what those constructions tell us about religion and identity. 
Offered as needed.

REL 202 History of Judaism (4 Credits)

This course will use primary and secondary texts and stories to deepen students’ understandings of the historical and cultural development of Judaism. Through close, critical reading, course lectures, and in-class discussions and presentations, students will undertake intensive historical analysis of Jewish faith and practice in ancient, medieval, and modern manifestations. 
Offered as needed.

REL 206 The 'Other' Jesus (4 Credits)

Study of biblical and extra-biblical recounting of the life and teachings of Jesus. Emphasis placed on reading ancient and contemporary life stories as critical resources for understanding emergent Christianity and the early Jewish/Christian world–in space and over time. 
Offered in alternate years.

REL 208 Global Christianities (4 Credits)

Through studying key figures, movements, and themes, students will learn about the origins, historical development, major controversies, and emergent trends that shape the Christian teaching and praxis. Attention will be given to social, political, economic, global, and cultural analysis. 
Offered in alternate years.

REL 232 Hinduism(s) (4 Credits)

Explores the many ways Hindu beliefs and practices shape and are shaped by the communities and individuals who live their lives, defined in infinitely variable ways, as adherents of Hindu traditions. 
Prerequisite: REL 125 recommended.

REL 233 Buddhisms (4 Credits)

Considers the variety of ways that Buddhists have engaged with the “three jewels” of Buddhism: the Buddha, the Dharma (the teaching), and the Sangha (the Buddhist community). Examination of doctrine, practice, and culture in different parts of the Buddhist world in a variety of historical periods. 
Numeric grade only.
Offered in alternate years

REL 245 Queer Religiosities (4 Credits)

Lesbian/gay issues have sparked major controversies in Christianity and Judaism. Debates are emerging in Islam and other religions. Topics include: religious acceptance versus demands to change, sacred text interpretations, ordination, marriage/civil unions, parenting, hate crimes, sexuality education, political rights. Focus is on lesbian/gay approaches and responses.

REL 251 Women, Sexuality, and Western Religion (4 Credits)

Consideration of a range of women’s roles in Western religions. Examination of tension between women’s subordination and liberation in Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. Sources include Christian and Hebrew bibles, church fathers and mothers, new views of women’s history and feminist analysis of religion, and contemporary goddess spirituality. 
Offered in alternate years.

REL 252 African-American Religion and Spirituality (4 Credits)

Intermediate-level lecture and discussion course, which is an examination of religious themes in African-American experience, including slavery, Black Church denominations (mainstream and Holiness), Black Nationhood and civil rights movements, Black Muslims, Black and Womanist (Black feminist) theologies, African religions in the Americas (Santeria and Voudoun), and new spiritual visions. 
Offered in alternate years.

REL 255 Gender in Islam (4 Credits)

This course offers comprehensive analysis of the factors that shape perceptions of Islamic women. To better understand the dynamic role of women in Islamic tradition, students will explore gendered space, the mystical dimensions of female Sufis, media portrayals of Muslim women, and engage debates about veiling, circumcision, education, and Islamophobia.
Recommended: REL 125. 
Offered as needed. 
Numeric and Evaluation grade only. 

REL 325 Japanese Religion and Arts (3 Credits)

This course will give students the opportunity to read about Japanese religions and art forms, then visit religious settings and museums. Meanwhile, we will be visiting Japanese schools and given the opportunity to teach Japanese children and university students by engaging in discussions.

REL 350 The History of Social Protest in America (4 Credits)

This course examines the influence of religion on the origins and development of the pan-ethnic civil rights movement in the U.S. from the 1950's to the 1970's by focusing on the African American, Mexican American/Chicano, and American Indian Movement (AIM) struggles.
Offered as needed.
Credit/no credit only. 

REL 351 Women, Sexuality, and Buddhist Traditions (4 Credits)

Exploration of the diverse roles and representations of women in multiple Buddhist traditions, past and present. Special attention is given to the historical agency of Buddhist women in shaping Buddhist traditions and in creating possibilities for various forms of participation in these institutions throughout the Buddhist world. 
Offered in alternate years.

REST 231 Native American Women and Gender Issues (4 Credits)

This course examines the role of Native American women in traditional societies. It also investigates issues of concern in modern society for Native American women. The course further includes an exploration of gender issues in Native American Societies, including so-called two-spirit, or other gendered people. 
Offered in alternate years.

REST 234 Race, Ethnicity, and Religion (4 Credits)

Examines ethnicity, race, and religion as constituents of personal and communal identity within a variety of religious traditions. 
Offered as needed.

REST 346 Native American Religions and Worldviews (4 Credits)

This course examines the varieties of Native American religions in their traditional setting and modern manifestations. For traditional Indian religions, the relationship between philosophy, land, and culture is explored. For modern-day practices, Indian Christian thought, the Native American church, and issues related to cultural survival are examined.

SOAN 233 Jewish Culture, Cooking and Community (3 Credits)

This course delves into Jewish culture, community, and cuisine, highlighting diversity and essential underpinnings of this ethnic minority. Interaction with the Jewish community, complemented by readings, films, cooking, and field trips, teaches students fundamentals of history, beliefs, and cultural practice.

SOAN 354 Jewish Identity (4 Credits)

Topics raised will include: Jewish religious and communal life; Jewish immigration, patterns of acculturation and assimilation; forms of anti-Semitism; religion and homo/sexuality; biracial identities and questions of cultural survival. Also incorporated: Jewish history, anti-Semitism, perspectives on Israel, and the Holocaust in an ongoing articulation of American Jewish identities. 
Prerequisite: SOAN 100, or SOAN 102, or SOAN 104; and junior standing plus two SOAN courses at the 200 level or above; or by permission. 
Offered as needed.

Two Courses in Texts and Contexts

Texts and Contexts courses invite students to engage in close and contextualized analysis of the textual traditions of a given religious tradition. Please note: the courses listed below can be taken or a topics course approved by departmental advisor. 

REL 241 Ancient/Biblical Hebrew (2 Credits)

Elementary Hebrew grammar and composition with emphasis on Biblical vocabulary and syntax. In this course, we will read, in Hebrew, the entire book of Ruth. This course will meet once a week for two consecutive semesters.

REL 242 Hellenistic Greek (2 Credits)

Hellenistic Greek grammar and composition with emphasis on using ancient pedagogical strategies to explore Classical, Hellenistic, Jewish, and Early Christian sources. This course meets once each week during both fall and spring terms. Students may register for one or both semesters. 
Offered in alternate years.

REL 265 The Prophet (4 Credits)

This course will provide a thorough and multifaceted examination of the Prophet of Islam, Muhammad. Students will examine the Prophet's historical life through multiple lenses from the classical period to modernity, and from the perspectives of communities that span the globe.
Recommended: REL 125 or REL 160.
Offered as needed. 
Credit/no credit only. 

REL 292 Sacred Life-stories in Asian Religious Traditions (4 Credits)

Sacred life-stories told in the form of biographies, hagiographies, or autobiographies offer their audiences—both historical and present-day readers—critical resources for understanding and interpreting religious worlds. Consists of a close reading of a broad range of life-stories from Buddhist, Hindu, and Chinese religious traditions. 
Offered in alternate years.

REL 307 Old Testament Literature: Hebrew Scriptures (4 Credits)

Close reading of selected books from Torah, prophets, and writings in English translation. The method is historical and literary with student compositions on a chapter in Genesis, a Biblical text about a woman, a psalm, and a book review of a modern feminist.

REL 308 Christian Scriptures (4 Credits)

Through situating canonical and extracanonical texts within their Jewish and Greco-Roman frame, this course engages the complex social, cultural and historical fabrics of the writings included in Christian Scripture. Close reading, informed by critical debate, invites students to explore contemporary manifestations of ancient teaching and practice–in space and over time.

REL 330 Buddhist Literary Imaginations (4 Credits)

Examines how Buddhism is imagined and constructed in literary texts within and outside of Buddhist traditions. Readings from both Buddhist literature and modern fiction from around the world about Buddhism are used in order to explore Buddhist social, ethical, and historical realities. 
Prerequisite: sophomore standing or by permission. 
Offered in alternate years.

REL 411 Masterpieces of Asian Literature (4 Credits)

Classics from Asian literature that treat religious themes such as the Dhammapada, the Ramayana, the Tale of Genji, and the Sound of the Wave. Major focus on Indian and Japanese literature. 
Offered as needed.

ENGL 118 Literature of the Bible (3-4 Credits)

Introduction to the Old and New Testaments. Survey of the contents of the Bible and a study of the various types of literature included. Though this is not a course in Biblical history or criticism, the creation of the canon and critical stances from which the Bible can be read are noted.

Two Courses in Religion and Ethics

Ethical teachings and practices are central to every religious tradition. The study of Religion and Ethics provides us with resources for addressing ethical crises in the world today. Please note: the courses listed below can be taken or a topics course approved by departmental advisor. 

REL 120 Religion and Ethics (4 Credits)

Exploration of religious ethics in relation to contemporary issues in politics, medicine, biology, and law.

REL 122 Religion and Ecology: Environmental Ethics (4 Credits)

Consideration of the environmental crisis from a religious perspective, and a search to understand why ecology is a problematic concern within religion. Evaluation of theological, philosophical, and sociological factors that shape the various religious responses to ecological concerns.

REL 250 Compassion (3-4 Credits)

Explores what it means to live a life of compassion through these lenses: 1) biographical models such as Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, The Dalai Lama, Mary Oliver, Viktor Frankl, and Mother Teresa; 2) the compassion teachings of the world’s religions; 3) the psychology of compassion ; 4) experiential investigation of compassion practices. 
Offered as needed. 
Numeric grade only.

REL 257 Science and Religion (4 Credits)

Exploration of differences as well as the intersections between the scientific and religious quests for ultimate truth. Emphasis will vary, including topics such as evolution and creationism, neuro-scientific experiments on religious experiences (e.g., love, forgiveness, altruism, healing, meditation), quantum mechanics, energy theories, Deep Ecology, human nature, and nature. Prerequisites: one course in religious studies and one course in science, or by permission. 
Offered as needed.

REL 323 Quest of the Mystic: The Inner Path (4 Credits)

Examines the intense inner quest and culminating spiritual realizations by mystics and sages found in every religion. The topic is explored through three lenses: 1) biographical study of representative mystics; 2) comparative analysis of the teachings about Self-Realization, Enlightenment, Divine Union, states of consciousness, and spiritual evolution; and 3) first-person investigation of contemplative methods recommended by the mystics under study. 
Offered as needed.

REL 358 Psychology and Religion (4 Credits)

Investigates the intersections of psychological theories, religious commitment and coping, differing views of human wholeness, cross-cultural approaches to healing and mental health, psyche/soma connection, spiritual process and addiction, peak experiences and the nature of consciousness. Explores the diversity of transpersonal psychologies found in the major world religions.  

REST 242 Southern California Indian Relationships with the Land (3 Credits)

This course examines Southern California Indian relations with the land in three ways: traditional societies are examined; the historical period from contact up to the modern era is explored; and modern issues of concern are addressed. This course emphasizes field trips and hands-on experiences.
Prerequisite: by permission of instructor. 

SOAN 232 Saints, Sects, and Society (4 Credits)

Religion plays a central role in all societies —and sociology helps us understand its role in the contemporary world. Why do certain types of people embrace religions, while others avoid them? Why has religion recently invaded politics? How is religion changing today? This course will explore these and other topics.
Offered alternate years.

Three Electives

Three additional courses selected from the list above or a semester abroad program chosen in consultation with an advisor in the Religious Studies Department. REL 450 (2 credits) may be taken twice to count for one of the elected courses, as may other 2-credit REL classes.

REL 450 Jameson Center Colloquia (2 Credits)

Students enrolled in this course will participate in all the Monday afternoon colloquia of the Jameson Center for the Study of Religion and Ethics. A faculty associate of the Jameson Center will supervise participation, including negotiation of a contract for each student’s responses to the colloquia. May be repeated for degree credit for a maximum of 8 credits. 
Credit/no credit only. 

Capstone Requirements

Two senior seminars:

REL 490 Senior Seminar (2 Credits)

The Senior Seminar is designed to allow students to synthesize their training in Religious Studies and to complete their capstone project. 
Prerequisite: Religious Studies major or minor or by permission.

REL 495 Senior Seminar (2 Credits)

The Senior Seminar is designed to allow students to synthesize their training in Religious Studies and to complete their capstone project. 
Prerequisite: Religious Studies major or minor or by permission.

Senior Religious Studies minors, Johnston seniors, and seniors from interdisciplinary programs may request permission to enroll in these seminars.

Capstone Project 
One of the following two capstone projects (specific guidelines and deadlines available for each option in the department office):
Senior Thesis/Project: Substantial research paper that offers an original and in-depth examination of a topic approved by the student’s advisor.
Internship: Reflective engagement in a meaningful off-campus site of service or ministry, approved by one’s advisor. Examples are a religious organization (church, temple, mosque, monastery), government agency, or non-profit organization. Students are encouraged to find a site that expands their learning related to an anticipated profession. The internship is meant to be in addition to the Community Service Learning Activity (CSAC) graduation requirement. Eighty hours are required, or the equivalent in consultation with one’s advisor.


The Minor
At least one must be taken from each of the categories below.

Introductory Course

Please note: students must take one of the courses listed below or the equivalent determined in consultation with a departmental advisor. 

REL 125 Introduction to World Religions (4 Credits)

By studying major religious traditions of the world, students will consider how religious traditions guide the way people live their lives in an ever increasingly diverse and religiously pluralistic world. Investigations will include both historical studies and the writings of religious traditions.

REL 131 American Religious History (4 Credits)

Exploration of religion in America from the pre-colonial era to the present. Emphases will vary, drawing from a variety of religious communities (including Puritan, Native American, Muslim, Buddhist, African American, Hindu, Evangelical, Catholic, and Neo-Pagan) and issues (such as civil rights, “cults,” church/state, gender, race, and ethnicity).

One Course in Cultures and Communities

Please note: students must take one of the courses listed below or a topics course approved by departmental advisor.

REL 126 Asian Religions in Southern California (3 Credits)

Exploration of the dynamic Asian religious landscape of Southern California. Focus upon the preservation and transformation of received traditions as religious communities develop in Southern California. Consideration of the religious lives and experiences of immigrant communities and converted practitioners of Buddhism, Hinduism, and Taoism. 
Offered as needed.

REL 145 Introduction to Islam (4 Credits)

This course introduces the foundational religious tenets that guide Islamic teaching and practice. Its aim is to provide students with a deeper understanding of the historical emergence and contemporary importance of Islamic thought, culture, legal systems, communal formation, and spiritual traditions.
Recommended: REL 125. 
Offered as needed. 
Numeric and Evaluation grade only. 

REL 165 Islam in America (4 Credits)

This course will provide a thorough historical understanding of the roots of Islam in America and the situation of contemporary American Muslims in a post 9/11 world.
Recommended: REL 125 or REL 131.
Offered as needed. 

REL 189 Religion and Popular Culture (3-4 Credits)

This course analyzes the interconnectedness of religion and popular culture and what it can tell us about the nature of religion in America.
Offered as needed.
Numeric and evaluation grade options.

REL 199 Cults and Sects: the History of New Religious Movements in America (4 Credits)

Offers an introduction to the variety of new religious movements. Examines the multiple ways these communities have been understood and what those constructions tell us about religion and identity. 
Offered as needed.

REL 202 History of Judaism (4 Credits)

This course will use primary and secondary texts and stories to deepen students’ understandings of the historical and cultural development of Judaism. Through close, critical reading, course lectures, and in-class discussions and presentations, students will undertake intensive historical analysis of Jewish faith and practice in ancient, medieval, and modern manifestations. 
Offered as needed.

REL 206 The 'Other' Jesus (4 Credits)

Study of biblical and extra-biblical recounting of the life and teachings of Jesus. Emphasis placed on reading ancient and contemporary life stories as critical resources for understanding emergent Christianity and the early Jewish/Christian world–in space and over time. 
Offered in alternate years.

REL 208 Global Christianities (4 Credits)

Through studying key figures, movements, and themes, students will learn about the origins, historical development, major controversies, and emergent trends that shape the Christian teaching and praxis. Attention will be given to social, political, economic, global, and cultural analysis. 
Offered in alternate years.

REL 232 Hinduism(s) (4 Credits)

Explores the many ways Hindu beliefs and practices shape and are shaped by the communities and individuals who live their lives, defined in infinitely variable ways, as adherents of Hindu traditions. 
Prerequisite: REL 125 recommended.

REL 233 Buddhisms (4 Credits)

Considers the variety of ways that Buddhists have engaged with the “three jewels” of Buddhism: the Buddha, the Dharma (the teaching), and the Sangha (the Buddhist community). Examination of doctrine, practice, and culture in different parts of the Buddhist world in a variety of historical periods. 
Numeric grade only.
Offered in alternate years

REL 245 Queer Religiosities (4 Credits)

Lesbian/gay issues have sparked major controversies in Christianity and Judaism. Debates are emerging in Islam and other religions. Topics include: religious acceptance versus demands to change, sacred text interpretations, ordination, marriage/civil unions, parenting, hate crimes, sexuality education, political rights. Focus is on lesbian/gay approaches and responses.

REL 251 Women, Sexuality, and Western Religion (4 Credits)

Consideration of a range of women’s roles in Western religions. Examination of tension between women’s subordination and liberation in Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. Sources include Christian and Hebrew bibles, church fathers and mothers, new views of women’s history and feminist analysis of religion, and contemporary goddess spirituality. 
Offered in alternate years.

REL 252 African-American Religion and Spirituality (4 Credits)

Intermediate-level lecture and discussion course, which is an examination of religious themes in African-American experience, including slavery, Black Church denominations (mainstream and Holiness), Black Nationhood and civil rights movements, Black Muslims, Black and Womanist (Black feminist) theologies, African religions in the Americas (Santeria and Voudoun), and new spiritual visions. 
Offered in alternate years.

REL 255 Gender in Islam (4 Credits)

This course offers comprehensive analysis of the factors that shape perceptions of Islamic women. To better understand the dynamic role of women in Islamic tradition, students will explore gendered space, the mystical dimensions of female Sufis, media portrayals of Muslim women, and engage debates about veiling, circumcision, education, and Islamophobia.
Recommended: REL 125. 
Offered as needed. 
Numeric and Evaluation grade only. 

REL 325 Japanese Religion and Arts (3 Credits)

This course will give students the opportunity to read about Japanese religions and art forms, then visit religious settings and museums. Meanwhile, we will be visiting Japanese schools and given the opportunity to teach Japanese children and university students by engaging in discussions.

REL 350 The History of Social Protest in America (4 Credits)

This course examines the influence of religion on the origins and development of the pan-ethnic civil rights movement in the U.S. from the 1950's to the 1970's by focusing on the African American, Mexican American/Chicano, and American Indian Movement (AIM) struggles.
Offered as needed.
Credit/no credit only. 

REL 351 Women, Sexuality, and Buddhist Traditions (4 Credits)

Exploration of the diverse roles and representations of women in multiple Buddhist traditions, past and present. Special attention is given to the historical agency of Buddhist women in shaping Buddhist traditions and in creating possibilities for various forms of participation in these institutions throughout the Buddhist world. 
Offered in alternate years.

REST 231 Native American Women and Gender Issues (4 Credits)

This course examines the role of Native American women in traditional societies. It also investigates issues of concern in modern society for Native American women. The course further includes an exploration of gender issues in Native American Societies, including so-called two-spirit, or other gendered people. 
Offered in alternate years.

REST 234 Race, Ethnicity, and Religion (4 Credits)

Examines ethnicity, race, and religion as constituents of personal and communal identity within a variety of religious traditions. 
Offered as needed.

REST 346 Native American Religions and Worldviews (4 Credits)

This course examines the varieties of Native American religions in their traditional setting and modern manifestations. For traditional Indian religions, the relationship between philosophy, land, and culture is explored. For modern-day practices, Indian Christian thought, the Native American church, and issues related to cultural survival are examined.

SOAN 233 Jewish Culture, Cooking and Community (3 Credits)

This course delves into Jewish culture, community, and cuisine, highlighting diversity and essential underpinnings of this ethnic minority. Interaction with the Jewish community, complemented by readings, films, cooking, and field trips, teaches students fundamentals of history, beliefs, and cultural practice.

SOAN 354 Jewish Identity (4 Credits)

Topics raised will include: Jewish religious and communal life; Jewish immigration, patterns of acculturation and assimilation; forms of anti-Semitism; religion and homo/sexuality; biracial identities and questions of cultural survival. Also incorporated: Jewish history, anti-Semitism, perspectives on Israel, and the Holocaust in an ongoing articulation of American Jewish identities. 
Prerequisite: SOAN 100, or SOAN 102, or SOAN 104; and junior standing plus two SOAN courses at the 200 level or above; or by permission. 
Offered as needed.

One Course in Texts and Contexts

REL 241 Ancient/Biblical Hebrew (2 Credits)

Elementary Hebrew grammar and composition with emphasis on Biblical vocabulary and syntax. In this course, we will read, in Hebrew, the entire book of Ruth. This course will meet once a week for two consecutive semesters.

REL 242 Hellenistic Greek (2 Credits)

Hellenistic Greek grammar and composition with emphasis on using ancient pedagogical strategies to explore Classical, Hellenistic, Jewish, and Early Christian sources. This course meets once each week during both fall and spring terms. Students may register for one or both semesters. 
Offered in alternate years.

REL 265 The Prophet (4 Credits)

This course will provide a thorough and multifaceted examination of the Prophet of Islam, Muhammad. Students will examine the Prophet's historical life through multiple lenses from the classical period to modernity, and from the perspectives of communities that span the globe.
Recommended: REL 125 or REL 160.
Offered as needed. 
Credit/no credit only. 

REL 292 Sacred Life-stories in Asian Religious Traditions (4 Credits)

Sacred life-stories told in the form of biographies, hagiographies, or autobiographies offer their audiences—both historical and present-day readers—critical resources for understanding and interpreting religious worlds. Consists of a close reading of a broad range of life-stories from Buddhist, Hindu, and Chinese religious traditions. 
Offered in alternate years.

REL 307 Old Testament Literature: Hebrew Scriptures (4 Credits)

Close reading of selected books from Torah, prophets, and writings in English translation. The method is historical and literary with student compositions on a chapter in Genesis, a Biblical text about a woman, a psalm, and a book review of a modern feminist.

REL 308 Christian Scriptures (4 Credits)

Through situating canonical and extracanonical texts within their Jewish and Greco-Roman frame, this course engages the complex social, cultural and historical fabrics of the writings included in Christian Scripture. Close reading, informed by critical debate, invites students to explore contemporary manifestations of ancient teaching and practice–in space and over time.

REL 330 Buddhist Literary Imaginations (4 Credits)

Examines how Buddhism is imagined and constructed in literary texts within and outside of Buddhist traditions. Readings from both Buddhist literature and modern fiction from around the world about Buddhism are used in order to explore Buddhist social, ethical, and historical realities. 
Prerequisite: sophomore standing or by permission. 
Offered in alternate years.

REL 411 Masterpieces of Asian Literature (4 Credits)

Classics from Asian literature that treat religious themes such as the Dhammapada, the Ramayana, the Tale of Genji, and the Sound of the Wave. Major focus on Indian and Japanese literature. 
Offered as needed.

ENGL 118 Literature of the Bible (3-4 Credits)

Introduction to the Old and New Testaments. Survey of the contents of the Bible and a study of the various types of literature included. Though this is not a course in Biblical history or criticism, the creation of the canon and critical stances from which the Bible can be read are noted.

One Course in Religions and Ethics

Please note: students must take one of the courses listed below or a topics course approved by departmental advisor.

REL 120 Religion and Ethics (4 Credits)

Exploration of religious ethics in relation to contemporary issues in politics, medicine, biology, and law.

REL 122 Religion and Ecology: Environmental Ethics (4 Credits)

Consideration of the environmental crisis from a religious perspective, and a search to understand why ecology is a problematic concern within religion. Evaluation of theological, philosophical, and sociological factors that shape the various religious responses to ecological concerns.

REL 250 Compassion (3-4 Credits)

Explores what it means to live a life of compassion through these lenses: 1) biographical models such as Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, The Dalai Lama, Mary Oliver, Viktor Frankl, and Mother Teresa; 2) the compassion teachings of the world’s religions; 3) the psychology of compassion ; 4) experiential investigation of compassion practices. 
Offered as needed. 
Numeric grade only.

REL 257 Science and Religion (4 Credits)

Exploration of differences as well as the intersections between the scientific and religious quests for ultimate truth. Emphasis will vary, including topics such as evolution and creationism, neuro-scientific experiments on religious experiences (e.g., love, forgiveness, altruism, healing, meditation), quantum mechanics, energy theories, Deep Ecology, human nature, and nature. Prerequisites: one course in religious studies and one course in science, or by permission. 
Offered as needed.

REL 323 Quest of the Mystic: The Inner Path (4 Credits)

Examines the intense inner quest and culminating spiritual realizations by mystics and sages found in every religion. The topic is explored through three lenses: 1) biographical study of representative mystics; 2) comparative analysis of the teachings about Self-Realization, Enlightenment, Divine Union, states of consciousness, and spiritual evolution; and 3) first-person investigation of contemplative methods recommended by the mystics under study. 
Offered as needed.

REL 358 Psychology and Religion (4 Credits)

Investigates the intersections of psychological theories, religious commitment and coping, differing views of human wholeness, cross-cultural approaches to healing and mental health, psyche/soma connection, spiritual process and addiction, peak experiences and the nature of consciousness. Explores the diversity of transpersonal psychologies found in the major world religions.  

REST 242 Southern California Indian Relationships with the Land (3 Credits)

This course examines Southern California Indian relations with the land in three ways: traditional societies are examined; the historical period from contact up to the modern era is explored; and modern issues of concern are addressed. This course emphasizes field trips and hands-on experiences.
Prerequisite: by permission of instructor. 

SOAN 232 Saints, Sects, and Society (4 Credits)

Religion plays a central role in all societies —and sociology helps us understand its role in the contemporary world. Why do certain types of people embrace religions, while others avoid them? Why has religion recently invaded politics? How is religion changing today? This course will explore these and other topics.
Offered alternate years.

Electives
Two additional courses in consultation with a departmental advisor. 2-credit courses such as REL 450 may be taken twice to count as an elective for the minor.

Study Abroad
Students majoring or minoring in Religious Studies will find it especially useful to complement the above courses by a semester of study abroad. Many institutions in Europe, Asia, and Australia have offerings in religious studies. Among the more valuable are the courses in Hebrew Scripture, Christian Scripture, and Islamic studies at the University of Edinburgh and the Oxford University. For Buddhism, consider the School for International Training (SIT) programs in Thailand; and, for Tibetan studies, the programs offered by SIT in India and Nepal.

Departmental Honors
Requirements:
• 3.45 cumulative GPA
• Highly motivated and accomplished Religious Studies major
• Submission of Honors Thesis Proposal by early October
• Formation of a Faculty Committee (three members) for the Honors Thesis who will have the opportunity to give feedback at timely intervals of the project
• Submission of draft of Honors Thesis by early February, public presentation of the Honors Thesis and final evaluation for granting honors by faculty committee

Course Descriptions (REL)

REL 120 Religion and Ethics (4 Credits)

Exploration of religious ethics in relation to contemporary issues in politics, medicine, biology, and law.

REL 122 Religion and Ecology: Environmental Ethics (4 Credits)

Consideration of the environmental crisis from a religious perspective, and a search to understand why ecology is a problematic concern within religion. Evaluation of theological, philosophical, and sociological factors that shape the various religious responses to ecological concerns.

REL 125 Introduction to World Religions (4 Credits)

By studying major religious traditions of the world, students will consider how religious traditions guide the way people live their lives in an ever increasingly diverse and religiously pluralistic world. Investigations will include both historical studies and the writings of religious traditions.

REL 126 Asian Religions in Southern California (3 Credits)

Exploration of the dynamic Asian religious landscape of Southern California. Focus upon the preservation and transformation of received traditions as religious communities develop in Southern California. Consideration of the religious lives and experiences of immigrant communities and converted practitioners of Buddhism, Hinduism, and Taoism. 
Offered as needed.

REL 131 American Religious History (4 Credits)

Exploration of religion in America from the pre-colonial era to the present. Emphases will vary, drawing from a variety of religious communities (including Puritan, Native American, Muslim, Buddhist, African American, Hindu, Evangelical, Catholic, and Neo-Pagan) and issues (such as civil rights, “cults,” church/state, gender, race, and ethnicity).

REL 145 Introduction to Islam (4 Credits)

This course introduces the foundational religious tenets that guide Islamic teaching and practice. Its aim is to provide students with a deeper understanding of the historical emergence and contemporary importance of Islamic thought, culture, legal systems, communal formation, and spiritual traditions.
Recommended: REL 125. 
Offered as needed. 
Numeric and Evaluation grade only. 

REL 160 Topics in Religion (1-4 Credits)

Topics of current interest in religious studies. Course content varies from term to term. May be repeated for degree credit given a different topic. 
Offered as needed.

REL 165 Islam in America (4 Credits)

This course will provide a thorough historical understanding of the roots of Islam in America and the situation of contemporary American Muslims in a post 9/11 world.
Recommended: REL 125 or REL 131.
Offered as needed. 

REL 189 Religion and Popular Culture (3-4 Credits)

This course analyzes the interconnectedness of religion and popular culture and what it can tell us about the nature of religion in America.
Offered as needed.
Numeric and evaluation grade options.

REL 190 Introduction to Africana Studies (4 Credits)

This course offers an introduction to Africana Studies. The class examines multidisciplinary approaches and perspectives on the African and African American experience in varied historical moments.
Offered as needed.

REL 199 Cults and Sects: the History of New Religious Movements in America (4 Credits)

Offers an introduction to the variety of new religious movements. Examines the multiple ways these communities have been understood and what those constructions tell us about religion and identity. 
Offered as needed.

REL 202 History of Judaism (4 Credits)

This course will use primary and secondary texts and stories to deepen students’ understandings of the historical and cultural development of Judaism. Through close, critical reading, course lectures, and in-class discussions and presentations, students will undertake intensive historical analysis of Jewish faith and practice in ancient, medieval, and modern manifestations. 
Offered as needed.

REL 206 The 'Other' Jesus (4 Credits)

Study of biblical and extra-biblical recounting of the life and teachings of Jesus. Emphasis placed on reading ancient and contemporary life stories as critical resources for understanding emergent Christianity and the early Jewish/Christian world–in space and over time. 
Offered in alternate years.

REL 208 Global Christianities (4 Credits)

Through studying key figures, movements, and themes, students will learn about the origins, historical development, major controversies, and emergent trends that shape the Christian teaching and praxis. Attention will be given to social, political, economic, global, and cultural analysis. 
Offered in alternate years.

REL 210 Introduction to Meditation (2 Credits)

This course, which is primarily experiential, introduces students to a range of meditation methods and contemplative practices. 
May be repeated for credit, maximum 8 credits.
Credit/no credit only. 

REL 225 Islam and the Media (4 Credits)

This course will analyze the ways in which Muslims and Islam are represented in social media, news, film, television, and YouTube. We will explore media outlets not only to understand representations of Islam, but the ways in which Americans gain or absorb religious knowledge.
Recommended: REL 125 World Religions.
Offered as needed.
Numeric, Evaluation, and Credit/No Credit grade options.

REL 226 Religions in Europe (3 Credits)

Designed as a travel course for May Term, this course journeys to European cities and deals with several religions found there. A daily journal is required, discussing readings done in preparation, interviews with locals, and visits to religious sites, museums and marketplaces.

REL 232 Hinduism(s) (4 Credits)

Explores the many ways Hindu beliefs and practices shape and are shaped by the communities and individuals who live their lives, defined in infinitely variable ways, as adherents of Hindu traditions. 
Prerequisite: REL 125 recommended.

REL 233 Buddhisms (4 Credits)

Considers the variety of ways that Buddhists have engaged with the “three jewels” of Buddhism: the Buddha, the Dharma (the teaching), and the Sangha (the Buddhist community). Examination of doctrine, practice, and culture in different parts of the Buddhist world in a variety of historical periods. 
Numeric grade only.
Offered in alternate years

REL 241 Ancient/Biblical Hebrew (2 Credits)

Elementary Hebrew grammar and composition with emphasis on Biblical vocabulary and syntax. In this course, we will read, in Hebrew, the entire book of Ruth. This course will meet once a week for two consecutive semesters.

REL 242 Hellenistic Greek (2 Credits)

Hellenistic Greek grammar and composition with emphasis on using ancient pedagogical strategies to explore Classical, Hellenistic, Jewish, and Early Christian sources. This course meets once each week during both fall and spring terms. Students may register for one or both semesters. 
Offered in alternate years.

REL 245 Queer Religiosities (4 Credits)

Lesbian/gay issues have sparked major controversies in Christianity and Judaism. Debates are emerging in Islam and other religions. Topics include: religious acceptance versus demands to change, sacred text interpretations, ordination, marriage/civil unions, parenting, hate crimes, sexuality education, political rights. Focus is on lesbian/gay approaches and responses.

REL 250 Compassion (3-4 Credits)

Explores what it means to live a life of compassion through these lenses: 1) biographical models such as Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, The Dalai Lama, Mary Oliver, Viktor Frankl, and Mother Teresa; 2) the compassion teachings of the world’s religions; 3) the psychology of compassion ; 4) experiential investigation of compassion practices. 
Offered as needed. 
Numeric grade only.

REL 251 Women, Sexuality, and Western Religion (4 Credits)

Consideration of a range of women’s roles in Western religions. Examination of tension between women’s subordination and liberation in Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. Sources include Christian and Hebrew bibles, church fathers and mothers, new views of women’s history and feminist analysis of religion, and contemporary goddess spirituality. 
Offered in alternate years.

REL 252 African-American Religion and Spirituality (4 Credits)

Intermediate-level lecture and discussion course, which is an examination of religious themes in African-American experience, including slavery, Black Church denominations (mainstream and Holiness), Black Nationhood and civil rights movements, Black Muslims, Black and Womanist (Black feminist) theologies, African religions in the Americas (Santeria and Voudoun), and new spiritual visions. 
Offered in alternate years.

REL 255 Gender in Islam (4 Credits)

This course offers comprehensive analysis of the factors that shape perceptions of Islamic women. To better understand the dynamic role of women in Islamic tradition, students will explore gendered space, the mystical dimensions of female Sufis, media portrayals of Muslim women, and engage debates about veiling, circumcision, education, and Islamophobia.
Recommended: REL 125. 
Offered as needed. 
Numeric and Evaluation grade only. 

REL 257 Science and Religion (4 Credits)

Exploration of differences as well as the intersections between the scientific and religious quests for ultimate truth. Emphasis will vary, including topics such as evolution and creationism, neuro-scientific experiments on religious experiences (e.g., love, forgiveness, altruism, healing, meditation), quantum mechanics, energy theories, Deep Ecology, human nature, and nature. Prerequisites: one course in religious studies and one course in science, or by permission. 
Offered as needed.

REL 260 Topics in Religion (1-4 Credits)

Topics of current interest in religious studies. Course content varies from term to term. May be repeated for degree credit given a different topic. 
Offered as needed.

REL 265 The Prophet (4 Credits)

This course will provide a thorough and multifaceted examination of the Prophet of Islam, Muhammad. Students will examine the Prophet's historical life through multiple lenses from the classical period to modernity, and from the perspectives of communities that span the globe.
Recommended: REL 125 or REL 160.
Offered as needed. 
Credit/no credit only. 

REL 290 Meditation: Intermediate Practicum (4 Credits)

Explore the effects of meditation through daily practice of specific techniques from various religious, spiritual, and secular frameworks. The techniques selected will vary according to instructor. Mindfulness, meditation and contemplative practices have been shown to foster wellbeing. This course is an opportunity to research the effects for yourself.

REL 292 Sacred Life-stories in Asian Religious Traditions (4 Credits)

Sacred life-stories told in the form of biographies, hagiographies, or autobiographies offer their audiences—both historical and present-day readers—critical resources for understanding and interpreting religious worlds. Consists of a close reading of a broad range of life-stories from Buddhist, Hindu, and Chinese religious traditions. 
Offered in alternate years.

REL 299 Research Methods (4 Credits)

This course examines varied research methods in the study of religion.
Offered as needed.

REL 307 Old Testament Literature: Hebrew Scriptures (4 Credits)

Close reading of selected books from Torah, prophets, and writings in English translation. The method is historical and literary with student compositions on a chapter in Genesis, a Biblical text about a woman, a psalm, and a book review of a modern feminist.

REL 308 Christian Scriptures (4 Credits)

Through situating canonical and extracanonical texts within their Jewish and Greco-Roman frame, this course engages the complex social, cultural and historical fabrics of the writings included in Christian Scripture. Close reading, informed by critical debate, invites students to explore contemporary manifestations of ancient teaching and practice–in space and over time.

REL 323 Quest of the Mystic: The Inner Path (4 Credits)

Examines the intense inner quest and culminating spiritual realizations by mystics and sages found in every religion. The topic is explored through three lenses: 1) biographical study of representative mystics; 2) comparative analysis of the teachings about Self-Realization, Enlightenment, Divine Union, states of consciousness, and spiritual evolution; and 3) first-person investigation of contemplative methods recommended by the mystics under study. 
Offered as needed.

REL 325 Japanese Religion and Arts (3 Credits)

This course will give students the opportunity to read about Japanese religions and art forms, then visit religious settings and museums. Meanwhile, we will be visiting Japanese schools and given the opportunity to teach Japanese children and university students by engaging in discussions.

REL 330 Buddhist Literary Imaginations (4 Credits)

Examines how Buddhism is imagined and constructed in literary texts within and outside of Buddhist traditions. Readings from both Buddhist literature and modern fiction from around the world about Buddhism are used in order to explore Buddhist social, ethical, and historical realities. 
Prerequisite: sophomore standing or by permission. 
Offered in alternate years.

REL 350 The History of Social Protest in America (4 Credits)

This course examines the influence of religion on the origins and development of the pan-ethnic civil rights movement in the U.S. from the 1950's to the 1970's by focusing on the African American, Mexican American/Chicano, and American Indian Movement (AIM) struggles.
Offered as needed.
Credit/no credit only. 

REL 351 Women, Sexuality, and Buddhist Traditions (4 Credits)

Exploration of the diverse roles and representations of women in multiple Buddhist traditions, past and present. Special attention is given to the historical agency of Buddhist women in shaping Buddhist traditions and in creating possibilities for various forms of participation in these institutions throughout the Buddhist world. 
Offered in alternate years.

REL 358 Psychology and Religion (4 Credits)

Investigates the intersections of psychological theories, religious commitment and coping, differing views of human wholeness, cross-cultural approaches to healing and mental health, psyche/soma connection, spiritual process and addiction, peak experiences and the nature of consciousness. Explores the diversity of transpersonal psychologies found in the major world religions.  

REL 411 Masterpieces of Asian Literature (4 Credits)

Classics from Asian literature that treat religious themes such as the Dhammapada, the Ramayana, the Tale of Genji, and the Sound of the Wave. Major focus on Indian and Japanese literature. 
Offered as needed.

REL 450 Jameson Center Colloquia (2 Credits)

Students enrolled in this course will participate in all the Monday afternoon colloquia of the Jameson Center for the Study of Religion and Ethics. A faculty associate of the Jameson Center will supervise participation, including negotiation of a contract for each student’s responses to the colloquia. May be repeated for degree credit for a maximum of 8 credits. 
Credit/no credit only. 

REL 490 Senior Seminar (2 Credits)

The Senior Seminar is designed to allow students to synthesize their training in Religious Studies and to complete their capstone project. 
Prerequisite: Religious Studies major or minor or by permission.

REL 495 Senior Seminar (2 Credits)

The Senior Seminar is designed to allow students to synthesize their training in Religious Studies and to complete their capstone project. 
Prerequisite: Religious Studies major or minor or by permission.