Religious Studies / Center for Religious Understanding

Varner Hall, Room 217
371 Varner Drive
Rochester , MI 48309-4485
(location map)
(248) 370-2154

Course Descriptions & General Education

The following is a listing of Religious Studies courses with brief content descriptions.  Six classes satisfy university general educations requirements, two of which also fulfill the writing intensive mandate.  For specific special topic offerings in a given semester, consult the schedule of classes link within the Academics tab on the OU website.
Course Descriptions

REL 1100 - Introduction To Religion

Critical, comparative study of the human religious experience, as well as an examination of various methodological approaches employed by academic disciplines in the study of religion.

 

REL 1150 - Introduction to Islam

Pre-Islamic Arabia, Muhammad and early Islamic history; the Qur’an and basic beliefs, practices and law; the Islamic Caliphate; Islam in the modern world and Muslims in America; women in Islam and other contemporary issues. Satisfies the university general education requirement in the global perspective knowledge exploration area. Satisfies the university general education requirement for a writing intensive course in general education. Prerequisite for writing intensive: completion of the university writing foundation requirement.

 

REL 1200 - Introduction to Judaism

Religious beliefs, practices and philosophies embedded within the major historical experiences (Biblical and Diasporic) of Jewish people including main institutional branches of Judaism, central characteristics of Jewish culture, and their relationship with non-Jewish groups and societies. Satisfies the university general education requirement in the global perspective knowledge exploration area. Satisfies the university general education requirement for a writing intensive course in general education. Prerequisite for writing intensive: completion of the university writing foundation requirement.

 

REL 1250 - Introduction to Christianity

Key ideas, major concepts, and peculiar language of the Christian religious experience. Focus on history of Christianity, creeds and doctrines of various denominations, Christianity’s cultural influences, and Christian ethical systems. Satisfies the university general education requirement in the global perspective knowledge exploration area.

 

REL 1850 - World Religious Traditions

Examines the core teachings and practices of the world’s major religious traditions, including Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Chinese religions. Emphasis is on terminology developed within each tradition, identification of human problems that each attempts to solve, and the insights and problematic issues that arise from these attempts. Satisfies the university general education requirement in the global perspective knowledge exploration area.

 

REL 2100 - Basic Religious Writings

Explores the various roles played by core texts within both Western and Eastern religious traditions. Basic texts from these traditions are analyzed and compared, revealing the essential approaches to religious life contained in each.

 

REL 3100 - Islamic Ethics

Major principles and theories of Islamic ethics. Application of these ideas to issues of deforestation, global warming, sustainability, women’s rights, abortion and cloning. Comparisons with other philosophical and religious theories.

 

REL 3110 - Christian Ethics

Study of the dialogue between philosophical ethics and the Christian tradition. Ethical models of Christian tradition from late Jewish moral theory through the Greeks, Romans, and into the present. Christian perspectives on contemporary moral problems and social issues.

 

*AN 3123 - Magic, Witchcraft and Religion

Prerequisite(s): AN AN 1111.

  

REL 3130 - Islam in the Modern World

Exploration of political, social, cultural, and religious developments in a diverse array of Muslim societies in the contemporary world. Examination of interaction between Western notions of modernity and Islam. Analysis of Western influence on Muslim societies and Muslim responses to the West. Topical issues include women’s rights, democracy, and the rise of radical groups.

 

REL 3140 - Religion in the Modern World

Focuses on key issues of religious life in the modern world. Examples of topics include the role of women in religious leadership, the relation of science and religion, religious fundamentalism, and religiously motivated acts of terrorism. Satisfies the university general education requirement in the knowledge applications integration area. Prerequisite for knowledge applications: completion of the general education requirement in the social science or the global perspective knowledge exploration area, not both.

 

*PHL 3150 - Philosophy of Religion

Prerequisite(s): one course in philosophy or religious studies or permission of instructor.

 

*PHL 3155 - Philosophies and Religions of Asia

Prerequisite(s): one philosophy course or junior standing.

 

REL 3410 - American Religious Experience

Study of a variety of religious traditions (e.g., Buddhist, Catholic, Hindu, Islamic, Native American, Protestant) as these are understood and lived by followers within the modern pluralistic society of North America. Also focuses on secularity, “NRM’s” (New Religious Movements), and the emergence of American-born spiritual communities of faith.

 

REL 3420 - Jewish History

Survey of Jewish history from its foundation to more modern periods, including such topics as the Jewish Patriarchs, Jewish kingdoms, Jews in the Roman Empire, Jews in the Medieval Period, and Jewish experiences in Europe and the United States.

 

*SOC 3420 - Sociology of Religion

Prerequisite(s): SOC 1000 or SOC 2200.

 

REL 3430 - The Jewish Experience in American Life

History of Jews as an American minority group, a dissenting non-Christian religious group, an immigrant and ethnic group, and a cultural group. Emphasis on themes of assimilation and conflict, as well as contributions to American society.

 

REL 3440 - The Holocaust

Examines events and contributing factors culminating in the Holocaust. Specific topics include history of anti-Semitism in Europe, rise of Nazism in Germany, Nazi Jewish policies, Jewish life under Nazism, design and execution of the death camps, world response, and the meaning of the Holocaust.

 

REL 3450 - Islam in America

Examination of the history, development, and challenges facing the Muslim community in the United States. Emphasis on the diversity of this community and its role in the greater Detroit area.

 

*ENG 3650 - The Bible as Literature

Satisfies the university general education requirement in the literature knowledge exploration area.

Prerequisite(s): WRT 1060 with a grade of 2.0 or C or Better and junior standing.

 

REL 3700 - The Book of Genesis

Examination of the major themes in the Book of Genesis, including creation, relationship between people and God, and human nature. Course will incorporate archaeology, rabbinic and Christian commentary, and literary analysis.

 

REL 3710 - Written Traditions of Judaism

Examination of Jewish sacred texts and their development in Jewish history. Texts include the Hebrew Bible, Talmuds, early mystical works, devotional texts from medieval Europe, and the Kabbalah. Texts are in English translation. A significant emphasis is placed on reading and the meaning of these texts.

 

REL 3720- Concepts of God and Man in Judaism

Examination of how ideas of God and humans’ relationship to God are presented in Jewish religious texts and how they have evolved over time. Important issues include the nature of God, free will, sin, repentance, and the question of evil.

Prerequisite(s): REL 1100 or REL 1200 recommended.

 

REL 3730 - Early Christian Spirituality

Social, historical and textual study of how Christianity as a new religion developed a unique spirituality enabling followers to approach their God using insights from Paul the Apostle, the Gospels, St. Augustine, and others.

 

REL 3750 - Science and Religion

Examines the relationship between religion and modern science from an historical and contemporary perspective. Scientific descriptions of reality are compared and contrasted with contemporary expressions of religious belief. Satisfies the university general education requirement in the knowledge applications integration area. Prerequisite for knowledge applications: completion of the general education requirement in the natural science and technology knowledge exploration area.

 

REL 3900 - Special Topics in Religious Studies

Topics in history, literature, culture and philosophy of different religious traditions. May be repeated for additional credit under different subtitle.

 

REL 4920 - Directed Readings in the Religious Studies

Individual study of topic(s) not covered in available courses. May be repeated for additional credit.

Prerequisite(s): REL 1100 and REL 2100 and permission of concentration coordinator.

 

REL 4950 - Religious Community Project Internship

Field placement in an approved religious community project. Field notes, regular consultation with the program director, and an analytical paper of the experience are part of the requirements.

Prerequisite(s): minor or concentration in religious studies and permission of program director.

  * Satisfies Religious Studies requirements.  Formerly cross listed with Religious Studies courses.

Gen Ed Course Descriptions

Six courses in Religious Studies currently fulfill university general education requirements:

  • REL 1150
  • REL 1200
  • REL 1250
  • REL 1850
  • REL 3140
  • REL 3750

 

Two courses in Religious Studies currently fulfill university writing intensive requirements:

  • REL 1150
  • REL 1200

 

COURSE DESCRIPTIONS

 

REL 1150 - Introduction to Islam

Pre-Islamic Arabia, Muhammad and early Islamic history; the Qur’an and basic beliefs, practices and law; the Islamic Caliphate; Islam in the modern world and Muslims in America; women in Islam and other contemporary issues. Satisfies the university general education requirement in the global perspective knowledge exploration area. Satisfies the university general education requirement for a writing intensive course in general education. Prerequisite for writing intensive: completion of the university writing foundation requirement.

 

REL 1200 - Introduction to Judaism

Religious beliefs, practices and philosophies embedded within the major historical experiences (Biblical and Diasporic) of Jewish people including main institutional branches of Judaism, central characteristics of Jewish culture, and their relationship with non-Jewish groups and societies. Satisfies the university general education requirement in the global perspective knowledge exploration area. Satisfies the university general education requirement for a writing intensive course in general education. Prerequisite for writing intensive: completion of the university writing foundation requirement.

 

REL 1250 - Introduction to Christianity

Key ideas, major concepts, and peculiar language of the Christian religious experience. Focus on history of Christianity, creeds and doctrines of various denominations, Christianity’s cultural influences, and Christian ethical systems. Satisfies the university general education requirement in the global perspective knowledge exploration area.

REL 1850 - World Religious Traditions

Examines the core teachings and practices of the world’s major religious traditions, including Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Chinese religions. Emphasis is on terminology developed within each tradition, identification of human problems that each attempts to solve, and the insights and problematic issues that arise from these attempts. Satisfies the university general education requirement in the global perspective knowledge exploration area.

 

REL 3130 - Islam in the Modern World

Exploration of political, social, cultural, and religious developments in a diverse array of Muslim societies in the contemporary world. Examination of interaction between Western notions of modernity and Islam. Analysis of Western influence on Muslim societies and Muslim responses to the West. Topical issues include women’s rights, democracy, and the rise of radical groups. 

 

REL 3750 - Science and Religion

Examines the relationship between religion and modern science from an historical and contemporary perspective. Scientific descriptions of reality are compared and contrasted with contemporary expressions of religious belief. Satisfies the university general education requirement in the knowledge applications integration area. Prerequisite for knowledge applications: completion of the general education requirement in the natural science and technology knowledge exploration area.

 

Religious Studies
Cross-Listed Courses

Religious Studies offers some courses cross-listed with other academic units of the University.  Students may use such courses to fulfill requirements for Religious Studies or for the companion department.  Such partner departments include: Anthropology, English, History, Philosophy, Political Science, and Sociology.

 

 Cross-listed Courses for Fall 2021:

REL 3140 / LBS 5904 - Religion in the Modern World

                                     Randall Engle: MWF 10:40 AM - 11:47 AM  MSC 104

REL 3750 / LBS 5904 - Science and Religion

                                    Charles Mabee:  WEB  ONLINE

REL 3900 / LBS 5904 - ST: Hindu Spirituality

                                    Shalini  Jayaprakash: WEB  ONLINE

REL 3900 / LBS 5904 - ST: Intro to Buddhist Tradition

                                    Kevin Hickey:  WEB  ONLINE

REL 3900 / LBS 5904 - ST: Japanese Religions

                                    William Londo:  TR 3:00 PM - 4:47 PM

REL 3900 / LBS 5904 - ST: Muslim Personal Law

                                    Aly Lela:  WEB  ONLINE

Cross-listed Courses for Winter 2022:

REL 3140 / LBS 5902 - Religion in the Modern World

                                      Randall Engle: MWF 10:40 AM - 11:47 AM   MSC 101

REL 3140 / LBS 5902 - Religion in the Modern World

                                      Charles Mabee: WEB  ONLINE

REL 3700 / LBS 5902:  The Book of Genesis

                                      Joseph Klein:  TR 10:00 AM - 11:47 AM   

REL 3750 / LBS 5902 - Science and Religion

                                     Charles Mabee:  WEB  ONLINE

REL 3900 / LBS 5902 - ST: Buddhism,Gender,Sexuality

                                     Kevin Hickey: WEB  ONLINE

REL 3900 LBS 5902 - ST: East Asian Religions

                                    William Londo:  TR 3:00 PM - 4:47 PM

REL 3900 / LBS 5902 - ST: Hindu Spirituality

                                   Shalini Jayaprakash:  WEB  ONLINE