/ Religion Department


Our classes help you understand the Christian faith and the role of religion in human society.

Religion department courses are an integral part of the college curriculum. Six credits in religion are required for graduation: a two-credit basic Studies in Religion course (REL 100) and one four-credit course (REL 220s, 240s, 260s or 280s).

Our majors and minors have a wide range of introductory and advanced courses from which to choose, from courses on the Pentateuch to world religions, from Christian ethics to the Gospels.

View full course descriptions in the catalog 

Special Topics (REL 100)

Catalog course REL 100 consists of multiple topics of focus that vary each semester. Current and/or forthcoming descriptions are listed below. To see course details, including dates, times and professors, please see the Registrar’s course schedule.

Religion section descriptions — Spring 2019

100.01 Earth and Ethics
Global warming, holes in the ozone layer, toxic wastes, oil spills, acid rain, drinking water contamination, overflowing landfills, topsoil erosion, species extinction, smog. The earth and its many inhabitants are in trouble, claim numerous professional earth-watchers. In this course we will ask these and other crucial questions. And we will learn how religious folk — Jews, Christians, Muslims and Buddhists — answer such questions. This course, in short, is an inquiry concerning earth and ethics.

100.02 Which Jesus?
Everyone seems to have a different opinion about Jesus. Where did these ideas about Jesus come from? Which one is the “real” Jesus? What do those around me and in society believe about Jesus? These are the questions we will address as we explore Jesus through the centuries and search for the Historical Jesus.

100.03 Faith and Food
Food is basic to human life. It therefore comes as no surprise that food is also deeply intertwined with religious belief and practice. In fact, one of the most central Christian practices, the Eucharist (or the Lord's Supper or Communion), involves eating. But although food is basic, decisions surrounding food in 21st century are not simple. Food is caught up in the most pressing moral issues of our time, including our environmental crises, globalization and poverty. This course will bring together the study of food in the Christian tradition with consideration of these and other ethical issues. We will probe the meaning of food in Christian thought and practice and ask about the implications of this tradition for socially concerned eaters today.

100.04 Fierce and Faithful Bible Women
Women in the Bible are often thought to be either "bad girls" (Eve, Delilah, Jezebel) or desperate to have children (Sarah, Rachel, Leah). There are many other biblical women that you never learned about in Sunday school. Some are victims of sexual violence. Some are warriors. Others are strong, courageous, compassionate and wise. This class will explore the "texts of terror," the "bad girls of the Bible" and the many other women who are both fierce and faithful.

100.05 Mystery of the Incarnation
This course is an introduction to Christology; it is a study of the person and work of Jesus Christ, the Word of God made flesh. Our starting point and norm of reasoning will be the New Testament, but we will also be guided by the conciliar teachings of the undivided Church (especially the councils of Nicaea and Chalcedon) as well as representative early, medieval and modern accounts of the mystery of Jesus Christ. By reflecting on Scripture and Tradition, we will attempt to answer Christ’s ever-relevant question to us, “Who do you say that I am” (Mark 8:29)?

Special Topics (Upper-Level Courses)

Several upper-level religion courses consist of multiple topics of focus that vary each semester. Current and/or forthcoming descriptions are listed below.

This is not a complete list of available religion classes. For a complete list of upcoming classes or to see course details, including dates, times and professors, please see the Registrar’s course schedule.


222.01 Introduction to Old Testament
See course description in the catalog.

222.02 Bible and Science
We will read the Bible texts at the heart of the issue, including creation narratives, the flood, moral laws, miracles and much more. We will explore the drama of the controversy and its history and politics. You will consider your own position within the context of possible options.

295.01 Grace
Christians are accustomed to speaking of salvation as a work of God’s grace. What is less commonly recognized, however, is that the theme of grace, or divine gift, permeates the whole of Christian theology. In this course, we will examine core Christian beliefs, from creation and salvation to Christian sacraments and ethics, and we will consider how the idea of God’s radical self-gift is at the heart of the Christian story.

295.02 Theology of the Human Person
This course, which serves as a gateway to the series of courses on the theme of disability in the Mellon Grand Challenges Initiative, is a theological exploration of what it means to be human. It begins from the conviction that we can only understand who we are in the light of Christ, true God and true man. By close study of Scripture and certain strands of the theological tradition, we will sketch a deeply Christian vision of the human person with which we will engage ancient and contemporary heresies and challenges. We will devote particular attention to the challenge of disability, especially profound intellectual disability, in order to deepen our understanding of the Christian vision of being human.

349.01 Recent American Religions
We will learn about the issues, ideas and authors of recent American religion; further develop skills in critical thinking and reading and discussion; develop skills of self-expression, both written and oral; develop the ability to research and write a major paper; and prepare for graduate school, seminary, ministry and/or life. Students will be able to choose a research topic in line with their interests.

389.01 Business and Religion Seminar
We will study the role of religion in shaping business strategy, products and culture. Using studies on corporate strategy, public leadership, company culture, global business and social responsibility, this course will explore theories and practices at the intersection of business and religion. We will discuss reflections on business from a variety of religions. This course will prepare students for careers in nonprofit and for-profit sectors.

420.01 God and Violence in the Bible
The Bible presents us with a multitude of characterizations of God, from God the creator, to Yahweh, the warrior deity of the Canaanite conquest, to Jesus of Nazareth who urges all to love their enemies.  We will unpack the history of God with a focus on violence in the Bible, the moral challenges this presents, and the challenges of interpreting Scripture.