Theology & Religious Studies Course Offerings
RELS 117 Theological Foundations – GS1 C-TF
This course will introduce students to the principal elements of Christian theology, particularly in the Catholic tradition, including biblical studies, historical and systematic theology, and ethics. It will address foundational theological questions, including: What does it mean to study God, and why do we do it? What sources are available for the investigation of God and how do we evaluate these sources? What images and metaphors have been and continue to be used for God? What implications does belief in God have on ethical behavior and the building of communities?
RELS 200 / CLAS 200 Augustine and the Classical World
This course will survey the life and times of Augustine of Hippo (A.D. 354-430), one of the great thinkers of the Western world. With more than 100 books, 200 letters and 500 sermons, he left a lasting impact on Western philosophy, religion and culture. He is seen as a major influence in shaping the theology of Western Christianity. The goal of this course is to understand how the classical heritage of Greece and Rome influenced Augustine’s thinking and in turn his impact on the late Roman world. By reading some of Augustine’s writings (in English translation) and those of modern scholars, we will attempt to understand how the synthesis produced by Augustine is both a final flowering of classical civilization itself and a cornerstone of the Christian civilization of the Middle Ages that was to come.
RELS 201 The Bible Yesterday and Today – GS1 C-CI
The Bible plays a greater role in American culture than in any other Western society, a fact demonstrated from the current debates surrounding the teaching of evolution in public schools or the legalization of same-sex marriage. This course explores the following questions: What are the historical reasons for the Bible’s present influence? What were the social, political, literary and religious beliefs of the biblical authors? How has the biblical text been interpreted by both Jews and Christians for the past 2,000 years, and how have these interpretations influenced modern beliefs about the Bible?
RELS 209 Doctrine of God
In its most basic sense, theology is talk about God. This course investigates the Christian tradition’s “God talk” by exploring the historical development of doctrines of God as well as engaging contemporary images and concepts of God, giving attention to currents of feminist, liberationist, process, and post-modernist understandings of God.
RELS 221 / AMER 221 Religion in America – GS 6 C-DD
Examines the historical development of religious movements in America, both mainstream and peripheral groups, and analyzes the religious perceptions by which Americans have viewed themselves as a nation and culture, including a contemporary assessment.
RELS 242 Liturgy and the Sacraments
This course examines the nature of the liturgy and the sacraments as the forum in which the church expresses and forms its identity and mission in the world. The course examines the historical evolution of the seven traditional sacraments as well as the other major rites of the church. Finally, the course explores the implications of the reformed liturgy for Christian life and ministry in the contemporary world. Alternate years.
RELS 255 / PHIL 250 Philosophy of Religion – C-WT
This course examines the rational assessment of religious beliefs and concepts and arguments used in their support. The course considers contemporary challenges to belief in God and the responses to these challenges.
RELS 260 / CLAS 260 Early Christian Monasticism
This course traces Christian monasticism from its rise in the deserts of Egypt and Syria to its spread throughout the Roman Empire and beyond, specifically to Ireland. In the Christian and non-Christian contexts, concepts of asceticism and holiness prevalent in various cultures of antiquity, and monasticism’s relationship to the wider Church and society, will be examined. Early monasticism exerted a powerful influence on the development of medieval Christian culture in both the Latin West and Byzantine Greek East, and continues to be an important factor in models of asceticism and holiness in many parts of the modern world.
RELS 265 / PHIL 265 Asian Philosophy and Religion – C-BB
Formerly RELS 342 / PHIL 342. A study of the major philosophical and religious traditions of South and East Asia. The course emphasizes the Hindu and Buddhist traditions. The ethical, metaphysical, and epistemological aspects of each major tradition are covered. Spring semester.
RELS 268 / WMGS 268 Sexuality, Intimacy and God
This course explores the meaning and significance of sexuality and sex for human fulfillment. It examines the ethics of intimate and sexual relationships in light of Christian theological and scriptural traditions as well as reason (including social and scientific sources) and contemporary human experience. Specific topics under examination include “hookup culture” on contemporary college campuses; the social construction of gender and sexual expression; unmarried sexuality; same-sex relations; contraception; abortion; and sexual violence. Students engage various theological, philosophical, natural and social science sources, including: imagery in the popular media, traditional Roman Catholic teaching, “revisionist” theological perspectives, and feminist insights regarding the body, sex, and human relationships more generally.
RELS 280 Introducing Christian Traditions
This course examines the history of Christianity in its theological, social and institutional dimensions, from the New Testament era to the present. This development is studied in a variety of historical and cultural contexts, presenting through representative figures and issues both continuity and diversity in Christian thought and life in the midst of society. Course prepares RELS majors/minors for more advanced courses in the RELS curriculum.
RELS 309 Biblical Exegesis and Research
This course introduces students to both historical-critical and post-modernist methods in academic biblical research. Students will learn the assumptions behind these methods, their usefulness to biblical interpretation, and how to use them. Religious Studies majors/minors only. Fall, every other year.
RELS 310 Marriage and Family as Vocation – GS 1 (Upper) C-CI
This course explores the moral and religious dimensions of marriage and family, with particular attention to resources within the Catholic Christian tradition. It will attend to such questions as: What does it mean to place the marriage commitment and the wider commitment to the family in the context of a relationship to God? What does it mean to consider marriage a vocation and sacrament? How does the vocation of marriage develop over time? How do careers, children, aging parents and other obligations affect the marriage relationship? What does it take to sustain a lifelong martial commitment in our culture? What are the distinct characteristics and responsibilities of Christian family life? Fulfills General Education Area 1 Upper – Religious Studies Requirement.
RELS 312 Church: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow – GS1U C-CI
This course explores the nature and mission of the Church from the early Christian communities to the present day. Special attention will be given to the theology of the Church that emerged from the Second Vatican Council, especially the essential communal nature of Christianity. Attention will also be given to challenges that confront the Church today, including issues of sexuality, women in the Church, celibacy, and how the Church is called both to witness to and to be challenged by society.
RELS 314 The Origins of Biblical Monotheism – GS1U C-CI
The course will trace the development from the polytheistic religions of the ancient Near Eastern and Mediterranean worlds and the multiple origins of ancient theological and philosophical critiques of those beliefs which in turn led to the belief in a single deity, understood in various ways. Careful attention will be given to the rationales used to both support and undermine long-held religious systems along with the ongoing development in the understanding of a single supreme being.
RELS 315 Mary through the Ages
This course will be an examination of the figure of the Virgin Mary, as she has been experienced by Christians (and some non- Christians) for the last two millennia. We will study the development of her cult by examining canonical and non-canonical scripture, Mary in art, the development of Marian doctrine and dogma in the Catholic Church, Mary’s role in Protestantism and Islam, Marian apparitions, and Mary as a figure of liberation and oppression. The course will also include a field trip to the recently approved Marian apparition site in Champion, Wis. As a major focus of Christian life and devotion, examining the figure of Mary and the role she has played in the lives of believers is an important part of understanding the Christian tradition.
RELS 316 Who is Jesus? C-CI
An attempt to answer the biblical question “And who do you say that I am?” is a central issue of theology. Looking at today’s answers formulated in continuity with scripture and tradition but shaped in the light of contemporary culture and experience.
RELS 318 / PEAC 318 / WMGS 318 Feminist Theology – GS1U C-CI
This course introduces students to feminist theology as a theology of liberation, examines its foundations in feminist theory and Christian revisionist sources and explores its contributions to the Christian — especially the Catholic — faith tradition.
RELS 320 The Christian Tradition – GS1U C-CI
This course examines the history of Christianity in its theological, social and institutional dimensions, from the New Testament era to the present. This development is studied in a variety of historical and cultural contexts, presenting through representative figures and issues both continuity and diversity in Christian thought and life in the midst of society. For non-Religious Studies majors/minors only.
RELS 322 Survey of the Hebrew Bible – GS1U C-CI
The Hebrew Bible is an intriguing mix of unity and diversity, due mostly to the fact that it is a composite literary collection that draws together numerous independent tales and narrative fragments. Beyond this, in the pages of the Hebrew Bible one also finds three important relationships. First, because the Old Testament is both ancient Near Eastern literature and a Scripture for present day Jews and Christians, there is the relationship between the past and the present. Second, because the Hebrew Bible is the object of scholarly study and an integral part of religious belief, there is also the relationship between the academy and communities of faith. Third, because the Hebrew Bible, although part of the Christian Bible, was written by non-Christians many years before the birth of Jesus and today functions as the sacred scriptures of two distinct religious traditions, there is the relationship between Judaism and Christianity.
RELS 324 / WMGS 324 Women in the Bible – GS1U
This course uncovers the untold and often troubling stories about women in the world of biblical literature. The material provokes thought and dialogue regarding the biblical writers’ perspectives on gender, sexuality and personhood. Students will be encouraged to think honestly and courageously about their own assumptions regarding authority and identity and participation in unjust social systems. Students will learn new methodologies to analyze gender and sexuality in order to rethink long-held social norms. Throughout the course, we will regularly reflect on how biblical representations impact the roles of women and men in contemporary society.
RELS 325 Providence, Suffering and Freedom – GS1U C-CI
This course examines various possibilities for making sense of the traditional Christian belief in an omnipotent, all-loving, providential God in light of the contemporary awareness of the immensity and tragedy of human suffering and the growing recognition of the depth and radicalness of human freedom.
RELS 327 / CLAS 327 Ancient Wisdom and the Modern Search for Meaning – GS1U C-CI
What is the good life? What can a person truly know? Is there justice in the world? These are some of the fundamental, universal questions of the human condition. This course will raise these questions and look at how the biblical wisdom literature answers them along with similar writings from elsewhere in the ancient world as well as modern literature and film. As a result of this analysis students will have the opportunity to construct a coherent and viable structure of meaning for their own life’s journey.
RELS 331 Judaism and Christianity: The Holocaust – GS1U
The examination of the historical and contemporary relation of Jews and Christians, through a study of critical events, comparative literature and correlated theologies, in an analysis which recognizes both interrelated unity and tragic antagonism. In line with Catholic teaching on the Shoah, the course strives to create a deeper understanding of the interrelated causes of genocides in general, and the Holocaust in particular. Students should become more aware of the relationship between religious discourse and its political and social ties, as well as the complicity of all human beings in unjust social structures. Fulfills General Education Area 1 Upper – Religious Studies Requirement.
RELS 333 / PEAC 333 Christian Ethics GS1U C-CI
This course explores the connection between being a Christian and being a morally responsible person. It attends to foundational questions of ethics in light of the Christian narrative, such as: What kind of people should we be? What should we do? What sort of communities should we construct? It therefore focuses on three dynamic, interdependent dimensions of morality: character, choices and community. Some applied ethical issues will be examined. Religious Studies majors/minors sign up for RELS 433.
RELS 337 Character and the Moral Life
This course examines the relationship between morality, happiness, and the good life by focusing on the qualities of character that are necessary for human flourishing, especially the virtues. Special attention is given to the cardinal virtues of prudence, justice, temperance and fortitude, as well as the theological virtues of faith, hope and charity. The second half of the course explores the seven capital vices that are most detrimental for human well-being: envy, vain glory, sloth, greed, anger, gluttony and lust.
RELS 338 Religion and Literature: Christian Mysticism – GS1U C-CI
This course will involve reading mystical literature of the Christian tradition in order to understand this important dimension of Christian theology and experience. Through extensive reading of a wide range of primary documents across many eras students will be able to explore this important, but often overlooked, dimension of the Christian tradition.
RELS 339 World Scriptures – GS11 C-BB
This course examines the role and contents of normative religious texts in some of the major religions of the world (e.g., Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism). Students will be introduced to the different ways that authoritative religious texts are viewed by their adherents, understand how their authority is exercised in their respective traditions, and read a good portion of primary sources from these different traditions.
RELS 340 World Religions in Dialogue – GS1U C-BB
This course offers a critical and comparative introduction to the world’s non-Christian and mostly non-Western religious traditions. Focusing on Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, Judaism, Islam and several indigenous religions as well as new religious movements, the course investigates and compares these traditions with special attention given to contexts. A key component in this involves examining the phenomenon of globalization and the issues of diversity and interaction between traditions.
RELS 350 Christianity and Religious Diversity – GS1U C-CI
In what ways is Christian, theological self- understanding informed by encountering non-Christian religions? This course investigates both aspects of the question with particular attention to themes such as cosmopolitanism, hybridity, pluralism and relativism. First we examine Christian theological resources — both traditional and emerging — for understanding religious diversity. Secondly we explore the development, beliefs, and practices of the Hindu, Buddhist and Islamic traditions. Students draw on the Christian theological framework to answer constructively questions about the relationship between Christianity and these religious groups. Fulfills General Education Area 1 Upper – Religious Studies Requirement.
RELS 355 Theology of Spirituality – GS1U C-CI
This course is an introductory exploration of the theology of prayer and the spiritual life, it explores the realm of religious faith and the various means by which humans enter into an explicit relationship with God. Students will be exposed to the various schools of Christian spirituality as they have arisen in the history of the Christian community. In addition, class sessions will be devoted to discussing the relationships of spirituality with the human condition. Spring semester. Fulfills General Education Area 1 Upper – Religious Studies Requirement.
RELS 360 The Essentials of Catholic Thought – GS1U C-CI
This course is an introduction to Catholic Theology in light of the Second Vatican Council. It will examine developments in Catholic theologies of God, Christ, the Church, the sacraments and especially the fundamental elements of Catholic morality.
RELS 361 Catholic Intellectual Tradition – GS1U C-CI
This course identifies the central distinguishing characteristics of the Catholic Intellectual Tradition. It examines the impact of the tradition in art, literature, philosophy and science. Finally the course entails a critical appraisal of the distinctiveness of the Catholic intellectual tradition and an evaluation of its unique accomplishments and shortcomings.
RELS 389 Special Topics
This course is an in-depth study of one or more major issues confronting contemporary religion. Students are challenged to make concrete applications of the role of theology and religious practice to issues of the early 21st century and to evaluate the impact of the heritage and tradition on their own thinking and on society in general. Topics will change from semester to semester but may include such issues as the Holocaust, nuclear weapons, abortion, racism and church-state relations.
RELS 433 Christian Ethics – C-CI
This course explores the connection between being a Christian and being a morally responsible person. It attends to foundational questions of ethics in light of the Christian narrative, such as: What kind of people should we be? What should we do? What sort of communities should we construct? It therefore focuses on three dynamic, interdependent dimensions of morality: character, choices and community. Some applied ethical issues will be examined. Prerequisite: Religious Studies major/minor.
RELS 460 Advanced Seminar
Offers senior Religious Studies majors and minors the opportunity to engage in a research project on a special topic, theme or theologian. Spring semester.
RELS 490 Independent Study
A course allowing staff and students to explore together topics of special interest. Prerequisites: instructor’s consent and approval of the Associate Dean of Humanities and Fine Arts.
RELS 494 Internship
This course is an action/reflection experience for those seeking skills in ministry. Students are placed in the local community. In addition to regular weekly service, students are required to meet each week in a supervised class with an instructor from the Religious Studies faculty. In those meetings, students explore the bases of practical theology, as that science reflects on the pastoral experience.