Religious Studies Course Offerings

Please see the section on "Course Description Symbols and Terms" in the University Catalog for an explanation of course description terminology and symbols, the course numbering system, and course credit units. All courses are lecture and discussion and employ letter grading unless otherwise stated. Some prerequisites may be waived with faculty permission. Many syllabi are available on the Chico Web.

Judaism, Christianity, Islam
3.0 Fa/Spr

This course is a comparative introduction to the three major Western monotheistic religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. The emphasis is on viewing basic questions of origin, community formation, religious identity, scripture, and theology across all three faiths in comparative perspective. By the end of the course, students are able to appreciate why Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are viewed as siblings of a single "Abrahamic" family and why they are called "Western" religious traditions. This is an approved General Education course. (008129)

Bible Controversies
3.0 Fa/Spr

This course considers the disputes over the interpretation of the Bible in Western culture. Did Moses and the prophets write the Hebrew Bible? Was the Bible intended as scripture, myth, or history? Why were books left out of the Bible? What are the differences between Jewish, Roman Catholic, and Protestant approaches to the Bible? In addition to examining books of the Bible in their original context, this course considers the Bible's role in ancient and contemporary disputes over the Sabbath, heaven and hell, the resurrection, the law, circumcision, divorce, the Trinity, salvation, slavery, polygamy, abortion, homosexuality, and feminism. This is an approved General Education course. (008131)

Asian Religions
3.0 Fa/Spr

An introduction to the religions of the East: Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, Confucianism, and Taoism. This is an approved General Education course. This is an approved Global Cultures course. (008128)

Introduction to Religion
3.0 Fa/Spr

What is religion? How do we recognize it? Are there functions religions characteristically serve or questions they characteristically ask? Are there characteristic answers? Are there secular religions? How do various cultures approach the category of "religion"? This course explores diverse religious beliefs and practices in light of classic and contemporary analyses from several disciplinary fields. This is an approved General Education course. (008130)

Special Topics
1.0-3.0 Inquire

Special topics offered for 1.0-3.0 units. (008134)

Islam
3.0 Fa/Spr

An introduction to Islam as a religious and cultural system. Topics include pre-Islamic Arabia, the Prophet Muhammad and the first Muslims, the Qur'an and shari'a, basic ritual practices, mysticism, theology and philosophy, Shi'ism, the visual and musical arts, women, modernism, "fundamentalism," and Islam in the USA. This is an approved General Education course. This is an approved Global Cultures course. This course is also offered as HIST 261, and MEST 261. (004515)

Judaism
3.0 Fa/Spr

History of Judaism from biblical to modern times. A study of the literature, faith, and events that shaped Jewish life. This is an approved General Education course. This is an approved US Diversity course. This course is also offered as MJIS 204. (005860)

History of the Jewish Peoples
3.0 Fall

Traces the historical development of a variety of Jewish sects, denominations, and cultures found in the Middle East, northern Africa, Europe, and North America from antiquity to modernity, with special emphasis on contemporary Jewish communities in the United States. Rituals, beliefs, and textual traditions that relate to the history of Judaism are surveyed, and the phenomenon of secular Judiasm is explored. This is an approved General Education course. This is an approved US Diversity course. This course is also offered as MJIS 205. (020675)

Christianity
3.0 Fa/Spr

An introduction to the basic features of the Christian worldview through an analysis of its historical, ritual, doctrinal, ethical, and social-institutional dimensions. Special attention will be given to the diverse expressions of Christianity in different times and places and to christianity's impact on human history, society, and culture. This is an approved General Education course. (008145)

Chinese Religions
3.0 Inquire

An exploration of the religious dimension of Chinese culture, with special attention to such figures as Lao Tzu, Confucius, and Mencius. (008175)

Japanese Religions
3.0 Inquire

A discussion of the role of religions in Japanese culture and society, with special attention to Buddhism, Confucianism, Shintoism, folk religion, and contemporary religious movements in Japan. (008174)

Hinduism
3.0 Fall

A survey of Hinduism from its origins to the modern day, including philosophy, literature, popular temple worship, the role of feminine power, and modern fundamentalist and communal movements. This is an approved General Education course. This is an approved Global Cultures course. (008181)

Buddhism
3.0 Fa/Spr

A discussion of the roots and transformation of the Buddhist teachings in India, China, Japan, and Tibet. Special emphasis will be given to major trends and problems in contemporary Buddhism. This is an approved General Education course. This is an approved Global Cultures course. (008180)

Dying, Death, and Afterlife
3.0 Fa/Spr

A study of the religious, ethical, spiritual, psychological, and socio-cultural dimensions of dying, death, and afterlife. Reading and discussion of issues surrounding dying (dying as one's last career, patient-centered approaches, spirit/body relationships); death (definitions, religious meanings, ritual practices); and afterlife (religious conceptions, relation to the human quest for meaning). This is an approved General Education course. (004443)

CS Lewis and JRR Tolkien: Theology and Myth
3.0 Inquire

This course explores mythology and fiction through an analysis of the fantasy and science fiction works of C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. Do Judaism and Christianity have a mythology comparable to that of other cultures? What do the works of Lewis and Tolkien tell us about our own time and the issues our civilization faces? Topics include the nature and origin of evil, the seductions of technology and control, the place of the earth in the cosmos, the purpose and origin of humankind and the universe, and the nature of God in the face of evil. (008156)

Library Research Methods in Religious Studies
1.0 Spring

An introduction to the tools used in doing research, writing papers, and preparing presentations in religious studies. Topics include sources of information, using the library's electronic tools to gather information, assessing internet resources, citation formats, copyright laws, and ethical standards in research and writing. Formerly RELS 481. (008198)

Greek Myth and Ritual
3.0 Inquire

An introduction to Greek mythology and its ancient Near Eastern parallels. The course focuses on the analysis of ancient Greek art and literature (including epic, hymns, lyric poetry, tragedy, and historiography). Topics explored include dying and rising gods, athletics and warfare, hospitality and gift exchange, initiation rituals and the afterlife, and the sex and gender roles of men and women. In addition, students consider Roman, Jewish, and Christian approaches to Greek myth and explore the impact of myth on modern art and film. Formerly RELS 104. (008135)

Muhammad and the Qur'an
3.0 Inquire

This course introduces students to the sacred scripture and prophet of Islam. Students study the biography of Muhammad (570-632) and the text of the Qur'an by situating it within the context of Muhammad's life and career. By the end of the course, students are able to appreciate how devout Muslims view Muhammad and the Qur'an, as well as ask critical questions raised by modern scholars of religion. This course is also offered as MEST 302. (020263)

Hebrew Bible
3.0 Inquire

An introduction to the Hebrew Bible (also known as the Old Testament of Christianity and the Tanakh of Judaism) in English translation. Readings from the Pentateuch, the prophetic books, and the hagiographa. The course emphasizes the analysis of the biblical books in their ancient Near Eastern contexts, the documentary hypothesis, Israelite history and religion, the formation of the biblical canon, and early Jewish and Christian scriptural interpretation. This course is also offered as MJIS 303. (005858)

Judaism in America
3.0 Inquire

An exploration of the forces influencing, and the important events in, the emergence of Judaism in America. Attention is given to issues of community identity and the interaction of Judaism with the larger culture in the context of society and politics in America. This course is also offered as MJIS 304. (005859)

Rabbinic Judaism: Talmud/Midrash
3.0 Spring

An introduction to the thought, texts, and culture of Rabbinic Judaism in the first through sixth centuries. Students become familiar with the historical and cultural background of classical Rabbinic society, from its origins in the Pharisaic movement in Palestine (Eretz Israel) to its pinnacle in the academies of Sassanid Babylonia. This course explores the oral-literary tradition that produced the Talmud and Midrash while allowing students to experience the dialectical style of study associated with Rabbinic culture. This course is also offered as MJIS 305. (020503)

New Testament
3.0 Inquire

This course covers the books of the Christian New Testament in the context of ancient Judaism and the world of the ancient Mediterranean. Who wrote the gospels and the epistles? Is there anti-Jewish prejudice in the New Testament? This class explores how Jesus was depicted, inquires whether the new Testament promotes or opposes Gnosticism, explains why the Christian apocrypha are not accepted as scripture, and also considers the relationship between the early Christian movement and ancient Greek mystery religions, the Dead Sea Scroll sect, Hellenistic Judaism, and Enoch traditions. (008141)

Altruism: Theory and Practice
3.0 Fall

Prerequisites: Enrolling students must be in good standing in the Honors in GE Program. Open only to students working on Theme H: Honors

Ethics has traditionally been characterized as a process of bridging the gap between how we are and how we would ideally be. One example of a moral ideal is love of neighbor. Because we labor under the pull of self-interest, loving one's neighbor is not common. In the light of this truism, examples of altruism cry out for explanation. Is there even such a thing as an "altruistic" behavior? If genuine altruism does exist, what motivates it? This course explores answers to these questions by looking at philosophical, biological, economic and sociological accounts of selfless behavior. This is an approved General Education course. This course is also offered as PSYC 318H, and PHIL 318H. (020767)

Religion in America
3.0 Fall

An introduction to the variety of religious expressions in the history of the United States. The course explores the impact of religion on American society and examines how religion has shaped and been shaped by American ideals, values, and institutions. Topics include the interplay of European and indigenous religious traditions, religious freedom, the historical roots of religious trends such as pluralism and fundamentalism, and the contributions of ethnic minorities to the contemporary religious landscape. This course is also offered as AMST 322. (000405)

Religion and America's Ethnic Minorities
3.0 Fa/Spr

An exploration of the religions which inform America's ethnic minorities. The historical, cultural, and social experiences and values of Native American, Hispanic American, African American, Pacific Islander, and Asian American ethnic minority groups will be examined. This is an approved General Education course. This is an approved US Diversity course. This course is also offered as MCGS 324. (005643)

Worldviews of American Indians
3.0 Inquire

A description and analysis of selected American Indian religions and philosophies of American Indian peoples of North America. The course emphasizes the Indians' spiritual relationship with nature as depicted in ceremonies, music, literature, and oral traditions. This is an approved US Diversity course. This course is also offered as AIST 325. (000384)

Center for Applied and Professional Ethics (CAPE) Forum
1.0 Fa/Spr

An introduction to current ethical issues facing individuals, institutions, and society. Students attend regularly scheduled CAPE forums, symposia, and seminars and do appropriate reading and writing in conjunction with sessions. This course is also offered as PHIL 331. (007236)

World Religions and Global Issues
3.0 Fa/Spr

An introduction to major religions of the contemporary world with particular emphasis on their relationship to pressing global issues, including economics and poverty, environmental issues, war and peace, and human rights. The course explores a number of religious traditions that are closely identified with specific ethnic groups in this country. This is an approved General Education course. (008190)

Ethics and Environmental Sciences
3.0 Inquire

Discussion of the ethical issues that arise in the environmental sciences. Emphasis placed on examination of kinds of ethical dilemmas facing environmental scientists and policy makers, on development of tools for analyzing and resolving such dilemmas, and on views that have influenced attitudes about the environment and environmental ethics. Attention given to religious, philosophical, historical, and cultural origins of moral values and various approaches to moral deliberation and moral reasoning. This course is also offered as PHIL 334. (007272)

Religion, Ethics, and Medicine
3.0 Inquire

Exploration of the way that religious perspectives and values inform the practice of medicine and delivery of health care. Topics include interpretations of suffering, moral values, assisted suicide and euthanasia, genetic technologies and human experimetation, justice and health care, and HIV disease. (008164)

Wealth, Power, and Justice
3.0 Spring

What is the proper attitude toward wealth and poverty? Do the rich have an obligation to help the poor? How should we balance a commitment to human equality and to individual liberty? How are we to determine whether a society's distribution of wealth and power is just or unjust? What methods constitute legitimate means of achieving social change? This course explores alternative religious perspectives on these and other ethical questions that arise in connection with contemporary social, political, and economic life. This is an approved General Education course. (008167)

The Problem of Evil
3.0 Inquire

How are people to overcome the despair and suffering that characterizes human existence? This course examines the responses of several Western (Christianity, Judaism) and Asian (Buddhism, Taoism) religious traditions to the following sorts of issues: the nature of transcendence and self-transformation; free will and the justification of religious experience and belief; and the overcoming of despair and/or the self as a condition of religious commitment. (008151)

Ethical Conflicts and Religious Values
3.0 Fa/Spr

What role does religion play in contemporary debates about ethics and morality in modern pluralistic societies? Topics may include abortion, capital punishment, assisted suicide, war and peace, environmental destruction, sex, and world hunger and poverty, as well as the conflicts between secular and religious world views. This is an approved General Education course. (008158)

Cross-Cultural Environmental Ethics
3.0 Fa/Spr

A cross-cultural and historical investigation of the ways that religious and secular worldviews and ethics influence attitudes, behaviors, and policies toward the environment. Attention is given to biblical, Native American, Confucian, Taoist, and feminist perspectives on nature. Topics include an analysis of the modern consumer lifestyle and its impact on the environment, the value of wilderness, mainstream and radical environmentalism, and contemporary policy issues. This is an approved General Education course. (008159)

Jesus, Buddha, and Marx:
A Study in Comparative Ethics
3.0 Fall

This course explores how Christians, Buddhists, and Marxists have sought to answer questions about the nature and goals of human life and about the methods of individual and social transformation. Attention will be given to the diversity of ethical perspectives in the traditions on such topics as the human good, the ideal society, political and economic life, war and peace, the family, the meaning of freedom, and the nature of salvation. (008165)

End of the World
3.0 Fa/Spr

This course introduces students to the ways in which historic and contemporary religious communities interpret catastrophes and how religious worlds explain and provide humans with tools to cope with catastrophes and with making meaning out of suffering and death. Focus is on visions of the end of the world (apocalypticism, environmental destruction), interpreting the meaning of disasters (natural, human-induced), and personal and global annihilation (epidemics, nuclear destruction). This is an approved General Education course. (008166)

Religion in American Public Schools
3.0 Fa/Spr

An introduction to the major world religions and an analysis of legal, intellectual, and educational issues that arise in connection with the study of religions in American public schools. (008168)

Religion and Film
3.0 Spring

An examination of the representation of religious concerns and meaning in modern film. Utilizing resources developed in religious traditions and in the field of religious studies, the course examines themes central to the human condition, such as selfhood, religious conviction, despair, redemption, and race and ethnicity. (008149)

Mysticism: East and West
3.0 Spring

A comparative study of mysticism from both historical and thematic perspectives. Major figures and traditions (including Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) will be reviewed, as well as current theoretical debates in the study of mysticism. (008185)

Religion and Sexuality
3.0 Fa/Spr

A cross-cultural study of the ways religious world views, institutions, and rituals shape views of human sexuality. Topics include sacred sexuality; religious asceticism; the regulation of reproductive sexuality; religious perspectives on homosexuality; the role of religion in constructing gender identity and the special ritual role of "third" genders in some cultural communities; and critiques of religious perspectives on sexuality from feminist and queer communities. (020224)

Women and Religion
3.0 Fa/Spr

Analysis of the images, roles, and experiences of women in world religions in historical and contemporary contexts. This is an approved General Education course. This course is also offered as WMST 375. (008152)

Sociology of Religion
3.0 Inquire

This course explores the impact of religion on the individual and society and surveys the major developments in the field. This includes interactive relationships between religion and other social institutions, and debates on controversial issues. This course is also offered as SOCI 327. (008184)

Reading in Religious Studies
1.0-3.0 Fa/Spr

Prerequisites: Faculty permission.

This course is a special topic offered for 1.0-3.0 units. You must register directly with a supervising faculty member. You may take this course more than once for a maximum of 3.0 units. (008192)

Contemporary Religious Thought
3.0 Inquire

See description under RELS 491. You may take this course more than once for a maximum of 6.0 units. (008160)

Special Topics
1.0-3.0 Inquire

Special topics offered for 1.0-3.0 units. (008196)

History of Christian Thought
3.0 Inquire

Survey of major themes in Christian theology from the 2nd century to the present. Emphasis is on important figures and the circumstances under which major Christian doctrines, traditions, and ideas emerged and developed. Topics include the identity of Jesus, the Trinity, sin and salvation, and the nature of the church. (008143)

Feminist Theology
3.0 Inquire

Prerequisites: RELS 375 or WMST 375.

A study of the development of feminist theology in Christian, Jewish, and other religious traditions over the past 30 years. Examines feminist theological analysis of religious symbols, texts, rituals, beliefs, and practices in the U.S. and international contexts. This course is also offered as WMST 475. (008199)

Theories and Criticisms of Religion
3.0 Spring

Prerequisites: RELS 100 or RELS 110 or faculty permission.

A study of the history, theories, and methods of religious studies as a scholarly and academic discipline, with emphasis on the biographical and historical contexts of significant contributors to the discipline and their classic works. Topics include secular vs. religious approaches to the study of religion and the contrast between religious insiders' and outsiders' perspectives; alternative theories of the origins and functions of religion; and debates over whether religion is a positive or a negative influence in the lives of individuals and social groups. (008191)

Seminar in Religious Studies
3.0 Fa/Spr

Prerequisites: ENGL 130 (or its equivalent) with a grade of C- or higher; concurrent enrollment or prior completion of RELS 281 and RELS 480.

Readings and research on selected topics in religious studies. Content varies. You may take this course more than once for a maximum of 6.0 units. This is a writing proficiency, WP, course; a grade of C- or better certifies writing proficiency for majors. (008200)

Internship in Religious Studies
1.0-3.0 Fa/Spr

Prerequisites: Faculty permission.

Enrollment will be determined by permission of the Department of Religious Studies. You may take this course more than once for a maximum of 15.0 units. Credit/no credit grading only. (008208)

Contemporary Religious Thought
3.0 Inquire

RELS 392 and RELS 491: Selected topics in contemporary religious thought. Content varies. You may take this course more than once for a maximum of 6.0 units. (008161)

Tutorial in Religious Studies
3.0 Fa/Spr

Prerequisites: ENGL 130 (or its equivalent) with a grade of C- or higher, faculty permission.

This course is an independent study offered for 1.0-3.0 units. You must register directly with a supervising faculty member. Individually directed projects in religious studies. This is a writing proficiency, WP, course; a grade of C- or better certifies writing proficiency for majors. (008209)

Special Topics
1.0-3.0 Inquire

Special topics offered for 1.0-3.0 units. (008210)

Senior Honors Research Paper
3.0 Fa/Spr

Prerequisites: ENGL 130 (or its equivalent) with a grade of C- or higher, RELS 480 (may be taken concurrently).

To provide students accepted for "Honors in the Major" an opportunity to prepare and write a research paper on topics germane to their interests developed during the first three years of work in religious studies. Research and writing will be done under supervision of a staff advisor for a total of 6 units in two semesters. You may take this course more than once for a maximum of 6.0 units. This is a writing proficiency, WP, course; a grade of C- or better certifies writing proficiency for majors. (008212)