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Philosophy Courses

PHIL 101: Introduction to Philosophy
1 course credit

How do we know what we know? Who are we? What is real? Do people have free will? Is there
absolute knowledge or only contingent knowledge? Many issues that we deal with in daily life
are ultimately philosophical issues. The word philosophy is from the Greek for “love of wisdom,”
but what is wisdom? Reading a selection of texts from the history of Western philosophy and
from world philosophy, the class will consider these and other questions, while we work to
perfect the art of “slow reading” and to value open-ended questions as much as or more than
certain answers.

PHIL 201: Critical Thinking: Introduction to Logic
1 course credit

This course will be an introduction to the art of reasoning. We will practice analyzing arguments
in advertising, the media, in selections from philosophical and literary texts, and in our own
conversations as we explore deductive reasoning, inductive reasoning, and fallacies.

PHIL 205: Classical and Medieval Philosophy
1 course credit

This course will offer a survey of some of the primary texts of ancient Greek and medieval
philosophy in their cultural contexts. After considering Greek philosophy, we will trace some
of its impact on the development of medieval philosophy. We will study the influence of
the Arab-Muslim scholarship of medieval Spain both for its role in preserving, translating,
and expanding on Greek texts and for its foundational role in the development of European
culture.

PHIL 207: Ethics: Philosophical and Religious (Cross-listed as RELG 207) 
1 course credit

This course will examine some of the moral problems we face in our lives and will consider a variety of ways of thinking about how to understand them as well as how we talk about them in dialogue. Beginning with an overview of some of the main theoretical approaches in ethical thought in the Western philosophical tradition, the class will then consider specific issues, which may include: sexual ethics, violence and peace, economic justice, environmental ethics, business ethics, race, gender, etc.

PHIL 211: Philosophy of Education (Cross-listed as EDST 235) 
1 course credit

An introduction to some of the philosophical foundations of education in order to consider the purposes of education for student, teacher, family, and society and some strategies for reaching educational goals. Students will consider how those philosophical foundations apply to educational practices of students and teachers and will ask what constitutes effective teaching and learning for both students and teachers. The class will explore how philosophies of education both shape and reflect societal values and will examine how those philosophies of education, put into practice, shape students and teachers, either to support and/or to challenge societal norms. This course is designed for students entering the teaching profession.

Prerequisite: Sophomore standing or above.

PHIL 213: Philosophy of Religion (Cross-listed as RELG 213) 
1 course credit

Can the existence of God be proven? Is religion rational? Do we have free will? Is there life after death? Can religious experience be verified? This is an introduction to the basic problems and issues that constitute contemporary philosophy of religion.

PHIL 215: Philosophy of Art
1 course credit

An examination of perennial questions concerning beauty in works of art and nature, the
attribution of value, the relation of aesthetic judgment and imagination to cognition and
moral duty, and the impact of these matters on inquiries in related disciplines (i.e., linguistics,
psychoanalysis, and religious studies). This course fulfills the Beauty and Meaning in Works of
Art requirement.

Prerequisite: Sophomore standing or above or permission of the instructor.

PHIL 217 Peace: Philosophical and Religious Approaches (Cross-listed as RELG 217)
1.0 course credit

This course examines a topic, movement or figure pertaining to philosophical and religious approaches to issues of peace and justice. Examples might include: Martin Luther King Jr., the philosophy of nonviolence, religious conceptions of peace, etc.

PHIL 218: Peace with Justice(Cross-listed as RELG 218)
1.0 course credit

This course is an introduction to the interdisciplinary field of peace and justice studies. Peace is not the mere absence of war but includes the redress of the kinds of structural violence (imperialism, racism, sexism, economic disparities, environmental degradation, etc.) that lead to conflict. Students will study a problem related to violence or injustice, analyze that problem critically, and engage in moral imagination as they develop strategies to address the problem.

PHIL 225: Philosophy and Feminism (Cross-listed as WOST 225)
1 course credit

This course will offer an introduction to some of the questions that shape feminist philosophy. What connections are there between feminist philosophy and feminist writing in other disciplines and feminist movements inside and outside the academy? The class will assume the importance of diverse women’s voices. Reading theoretical, literary, and experimental texts which challenge the distinction between theory and literature, the class will focus on how an awareness of the intersections of race, class, sexuality, gender, ability, and ethnicity is vital for disciplinary and interdisciplinary study in feminist philosophy. This course is required for the Women’s Studies Minor.

Prerequisites: WOST 201 for WOST 225 students. For Phil 225 students, sophomore standing or above or permission of the instructor.

PHIL 250: Special Topics
1 course credit

PHIL 300: Philosophy and Religions of Asia (Cross-listed as RELG 300) 
1 course credit

An introduction to the origins, histories, thought, practices, and developments of the great religions and philosophies of Asia. The course will study some of the following: Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Shintoism, Taoism, Zoroastrianism, Jainism, and Sikhism. Eastern philosophies will be explored in religious and cultural contexts. May be repeated for credit with permission of the instructor.

Prerequisites: Junior or Senior standing or permission of the instructor.

PHIL 307: Modern Philosophy
1 course credit

This course will trace the development of European modernity, from its beginnings in the
Renaissance through the Reformation and Scientific Revolution and into the eighteenth and
nineteenth centuries. We will look especially at how the rise of modernity, as expressed by the
Rationalists, the Empiricists and through the Kantian turn, shaped European views of nature,
science, mind, body, spirit/faith, and the nature of human beings. The emphasis will be on
understanding modern philosophical works in their historical context. Recognizing that how
we conceptualize ourselves and our world is shaped by our cultural moments, we will also
consider challenges to modern European conceptions of people and our planet. This course is
designed for students with some experience in philosophy and assumes some familiarity with the
discipline. Prior completion of Phil 101, Phil 201, Phil 205, or Phil 207 is highly recommended.

Prerequisites: Sophomore standing or above or permission of the instructor.

PHIL 310: Environmental Ethics (Cross-listed as RELG 310) 
1 course credit

An examination of ecological problems caused by human
activities and possible solutions, starting with a rethinking of the relationship between
human beings and nature. From different perspectives the course will investigate various
interrelated issues ranging from ethical to metaphysical, including: Do we have an obligation
to natural objects? If there should be an environmental ethic, what kind of ethic should it
be? Students will have opportunities to develop and express their own views on these issues.
This course is intended primarily for students in their sophomore, junior, and senior years.

Prerequisites: Sophomore standing or above or permission of the instructor.

PHIL 311: Contemporary Philosophy
1 course credit

This course will explore some of the directions philosophy has taken from late modernity to the
present. Starting with a review of the eighteenth-century philosopher, Immanuel Kant, we will
outline the defining features of modernity and some of the cracks in those foundations. Although
quintessentially modern, Kant also paved the way for contemporary critiques of modernity on
one hand and for contemporary attempts to defend and maintain modernity on the other. We
will briefly consider the divergent paths contemporary philosophy has taken since Kant—the
so-called Analytic and Continental paths—and we’ll ask ourselves if the two are really as separate
as they sometimes seem. Finally, we’ll ask ourselves if there is a way to move from modernity’s
self-assurance that the world can be understood with absolute certainty to contemporary views
that the world may be beyond our grasp and that different cultures (broadly defined) have
different foundations for understanding in a world of contingencies. This course is designed for
students with some experience in philosophy and assumes some familiarity with the discipline.
Prior completion of PHIL 101, PHIL 201, PHIL 207, PHIL 305, or PHIL 307 is highly
recommended.

Prerequisites: Sophomore standing or above or permission of the instructor.

PHIL 316: Existentialism (Cross listed as RELG 316) 
1 course credit.

An overview of issues and claims associated with existentialism, a cultural phenomenon touching upon and influenced by diverse fields of interests. The course necessarily is interdisciplinary, examining existential influences on literature and religious thought, as well as philosophy. Readings are from a number of contributors to the tradition, including Kierkegaard, Dostoevsky, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Tillich, Sartre, Camus.

Prerequisites: Sophomore standing or above or permission of the instructor.

PHIL 320: Individualized Study
1 course credit

Directed research and writing in an area of special interest to the student. May be repeated for
credit.

Prerequisites: Permission of the instructor.

PHIL 350: Topics in the History of Philosophy
1 course credit

This course will examine a particular figure, period, or theme in the history of philosophy,
in a more focused manner than a survey course will allow. Emphasis will be placed on the
significance of these ideas for contemporary debates and perspectives.

Prerequisite: Sophomore standing or higher or permission of the instructor.

PHIL 411: Political Philosophy from Plato to the Present (Cross-listed as POLS 411) 
1 course credit

A historical survey and philosophical analysis of political theory from ancient Greece to the present. Includes works by Plato, Aristotle, Machiavelli, Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Marx, and Mill.

PHIL 450: Senior Research
.25-1 course credit

Research semester, during which the students conduct research in preparation for their senior
theses in philosophy. By the end of this semester, students will have read broadly in the relevant
scholarship to generate and then focus a topic for the senior thesis.

PHIL 452: Senior Project
.25-1 course credit

The student thoroughly examines a topic in philosophy and composes an extended essay
involving in-depth research and analysis and/or synthesis under the individualized direction of
a faculty member, or in a seminar. The thesis option culminates in a public presentation of the
student’s work.

Religious Studies Courses

RELG 100: Introduction to World Religions 
1 course credit

This course offers a brief introduction to the world’s major religious traditions, including the
Indian traditions of Hinduism and Buddhism, the Chinese religions of Confucianism and
Taoism, and the “religions of Abraham” – Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. The course will
also encourage students to reflect on the category of “religion” in general and to consider the
complexities of comparing traditions.

RELG 101: Introduction to the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament)
1 course credit

A study of the text of the Hebrew Bible in its historical and cultural context. The story of Israel
is traced from its formation as a people through the rise of the monarchy, exile, and return. The
complex web of traditions that shaped Israel’s identity is analyzed, and the historical, literary,
and theological dimensions of the texts are explored.

RELG 108: Introduction to the New Testament
1 course credit

A study of first-century Christian literature in its historical and cultural contexts. The course will
focus on the historical Jesus, Paul’s epistles, and the Jewish framework of early Christian faith
and practice in Hellenic-Roman culture.

RELG 200: Topics in the History of Christian Thought
1 course credit

Introduction to the history of Christian thought, from the missionary work of Paul to the
development of basic church teachings in figures like Augustine, Anselm, Aquinas, and Julian
of Norwich; the Reformation (Luther, Calvin, others) through to developments in the modern
period, and the variety of Christian responses to contemporary culture. This course may focus
on a particular theme or time period. Students may repeat this course for credit by permission of
department chair.

RELG 207: Ethics: Philosophical and Religious (Cross-listed as PHIL 207) 
1 course credit

This course will examine some of the moral problems we face in our lives and will consider a variety of ways of thinking about how to understand them as well as how to talk about them in dialogue. Beginning with an overview of some of the main theoretical approaches in ethical thought in the Western philosophical tradition, the class will then consider specific issues, which may include: sexual ethics, violence and peace, economic justice, environmental ethics, business ethics, race, gender, etc.

RELG 210G: Judaism and Islam
1 course credit

A study of the origins, history, rituals, sacred writings, beliefs, practices, and modern
developments among Jews and Muslims. Special attention is given to understanding similarities
and differences between Judaism, Christianity, and Islam as monotheistic traditions which all
trace their roots to Abraham.

RELG 213: Philosophy of Religion (Cross-listed as PHIL 213) 
1 course credit

Can the existence of God be proven? Is religion rational? Do we have free will? Is there life after death? Can religious experience be verified? This is an introduction to the basic problems and issues that constitute contemporary philosophy of religion.

RELG 217: Peace: Philosophical and Religious Approaches(Cross-listed as PHIL 217)
1.0 course credit

This course examines a topic, movement or figure pertaining to philosophical and religious approaches to issues of peace and justice. Examples might include: Martin Luther King Jr., the philosophy of nonviolence, religious conceptions of peace, etc.

RELG 218: Peace with Justice(Cross-listed as PHIL 218)
1.0 course credit

This course is an introduction to the interdisciplinary field of peace and justice studies. Peace is not the mere absence of war but includes the redress of the kinds of structural violence (imperialism, racism, sexism, economic disparities, environmental degradation, etc.) that lead to conflict. Students will study a problem related to violence or injustice, analyze that problem critically, and engage in moral imagination as they develop strategies to address the problem.

RELG 220: Women and Religion
1 course credit

This course explores the religious lives of women across cultures and religious traditions. Course
readings include: writings by women religious leaders and lay participants as well as essays about
women in a variety of religious contexts. Attention is paid to the uniqueness and diversity of
women’s experience within religious traditions, including the experience of oppression but also of
empowerment.

RELG 244: Religion and Politics (Cross-listed as POLS 244) 
1 course credit

The “secularization” thesis prevailed among the social scientists during the 1950s and 1960s. This thesis assumed that under the influence of industrialization, urbanization, and modernization, religion will become less important in the public and the private spheres. The emergence of highly politicized religious movements have posed a severe challenge to the secularization thesis. In this course, we will explore the relationship between religion and politics by examining contemporary movements such as the Christian Right in the U.S., Hindu fundamentalism in India, and political Islam in the Middle East and South Asia.

RELG 250: Special Topics
1 course credit

RELG 260: Cultures of the Middle East (Cross-listed as Anth 260) 
1 course credit

Provides background information about historical developments in the regions, reviews the role of Islam, and examines contemporary everyday/popular cultures.

RELG 300: Philosophy and Religions of Asia (Cross-listed as PHIL 300) 
1 course credit

An introduction to the origins, histories, thought, practices, and developments of the great religions and philosophies of Asia. The course will study some of the following: Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Shintoism, Taoism, Zoroastrianism, Jainism, and Sikhism. Eastern philosophies will be explored in religious and cultural contexts. May be repeated for credit with permission of the instructor.

Prerequisites: Junior or Senior standing or permission of the instructor.

RELG 310: Environmental Ethics (Cross-listed as PHIL 310) 
1 course credit

An examination of ecological problems caused by human activities and possible solutions, starting with a rethinking of the relationship between human beings and nature. From different perspectives the course will investigate various interrelated issues ranging from ethical to metaphysical, including: Do we have an obligation to natural objects? If there should be an environmental ethic, what kind of ethic should it be? Students will have opportunities to develop and express their own views on these issues. This course is intended primarily for students in their sophomore, junior, and senior years.

Prerequisites: Sophomore standing or above or permission of the instructor.

RELG 312: Religion in America (Cross-listed as HIST 312) 
1 course credit

The story of American religious history is an important narrative
about our country’s identity. Recent work in the field has focused on what has been left out of
the old stories and how we might better account for the experiences of women, of minorities,
and of those groups who challenge the dominate theologies and practices. This course covers
the colonial period through to contemporary developments, including secularization, New Age
movements and the flourishing of the world’s religious traditions within an American context.
Students will be exposed to some of the recent work in the field that explores the various ways
to tell the story of American religious history. Course topics will vary from year to year. Possible
topics include: Christianity in America, African-American religious history, new religious
movements and utopian experiments, women in American religious history or the world’s
religions in America. May be repeated for credit with permission of the instructor.

Prerequisites: Sophomore standing or above or permission of the instructor.

RELG 313: Modern Christian Theology
1 course credit.

A more intensive study of Christian Theology after the Enlightenment. The course may focus
on a particular time period, a particular thinker or school of thought, or a particular theme.
Students may repeat this course for credit by permission of the instructor. ,
but Junior standing and/or completion of RELG 200 or RELG 213 is recommended.

RELG 316: Existentialism (Cross listed as PHIL316)
1 course credit.

An overview of issues and claims associated with existentialism, a
cultural phenomenon touching upon and influenced by diverse fields of interests. The course
necessarily is interdisciplinary, examining existential influences on literature and religious
thought, as well as philosophy. Readings are from a number of contributors to the tradition,
including Kierkegaard, Dostoevsky, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Tillich, Sartre, Camus.

Prerequisites: Sophomore standing or above or permission of the instructor.

RELG 320: Individualized Study
1 course credit

Directed research and writing in an area of special interest to the student. May be repeated for
credit.

Prerequisites: Permission of the instructor.

RELG 350: Topics in Religious Studies
1 course credit

This course will examine a topic, figure, period or theme in Religious Studies in a more focused
manner than a survey course will allow. Emphasis will be placed on the significance of these
ideas for contemporary debates and perspectives.

Prerequisite: Sophomore standing or higher or permission of the instructor.

RELG 450: Senior Research
.25-1 course credit

Research semester, during which the students conduct research in preparation for their senior
theses in religious studies. By the end of this semester, students will have read broadly in the
relevant scholarship to generate and then focus a topic for the senior thesis.

RELG 452: Senior Project
.25-1 course credit

The student thoroughly examines a topic in religious studies and composes an extended essay involving in-depth research and analysis and/or synthesis under the individualized direction of a faculty member, or in a seminar. The thesis option culminates in a public presentation of the student’s work.

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