Course Descriptions — Religion

REL1050 An Introduction to World Religions 4 semester hours
This course introduces students to four major families of the world’s religions: Primal Faith; Semitic or West Asian Religions; South Asian Religions; and East Asian Religions. It looks in depth at one representative way of faith from within each major fam ily group. It explores these issues through an examination of art and music and individual thinkers, as well as an examination of beliefs and practices.
Meets General Education “Aesthetic and Philosophical Expression” Group A requirement ( for students entering Aurora University prior to Summer 2014).

REL1100 The Christian Bible 4 semester hours
This course introduces students to the history and theology of ancient Israel and of the New Testament church, through the medium of the Christian Bible. It
examines how and why the church chose the books that form the Christian Bible, and illustrates how the Bible has been used, and continues to be used, to define and reform Christian faith.
Meets General Education “Aesthetic and Philosophical Expression” Group A requirement ( for students entering Aurora University prior to Summer 2014).

REL1400 Spirituality for Today’s World 4 semester hours
This course looks at spiritual alternatives to established religions in the contemporary world: New Age movements; new religious movements; and re-formations of earth, feminist and primal spiritualities. It also asks whether these alternatives are friends or foes of religions, replacements for religions or ways of renewing them.
Meets General Education “Aesthetic and Philosophical Expression” Group A requirement ( for students entering Aurora University prior to Summer 2014).

REL2060 Exploring Religion 4 semester hours
This course introduces students to the study of religion, and distinguishes reli gion from the religions. While it acknowledges the importance to religion of the older social sciences (specifically, anthropology, sociology and psychology), it stresses the importance to religious studies of cultural studies. It also looks at the claims by religion to transcendent, revelatory truth, and inquires how the truth of such claims might be established. In the process, it explores whether religious studies is a discrete field of study, or a multi-disciplinary area of inquiry, or even a vague and nebulous “subject” that has no place in a respectable university.
Meets General Education “Aesthetic and Philosophical Expression” Group A requirement ( for students entering Aurora University prior to Summer 2014).

REL2200 The Shaping of Christian Identity 4 semester hours
This course examines various momentous occasions that have contributed to the cultural and doctrinal identity of contemporary Christianity. These would include, among other events: the Council of Jerusalem, which incorporated Gen tiles as well as Jews into Christian faith; the Council of Chalcedon, which inter preted the meaning of Christ for Christians; the iconoclastic controversy in the 8th and 9th century Byzantine Empire, which foreshadowed the splitting of the Eastern and Western churches, and focused the issue of the place of the appro priateness and importance of artistic representations of God for Christians; the consequences of Martin Luther’s “Here I stand; I can do no other,” and the found ing of Protestant religion; the first Great Awakening, and its effect upon North American Christian identity; the modern ecumenical movement, and its develop ment within an increasingly interlinked world. Students will study Christianity’s impact upon civilizations and upon culture, as well as its claims to religious truth.
Meets General Education “Aesthetic and Philosophical Expression” Group A requirement ( for students entering Aurora University prior to Summer 2014).

REL2310 The Faiths of Abraham 4 semester hours
This course introduces students to the study of Judaism, Christianity and Islam and their interaction. It examines their core beliefs and practices, partly through sacred texts. Students are encouraged to take seriously the cultural and aesthetic achievements and interaction of these religions. Special attention is given to the interaction of these religions in the contemporary world. Students will and must visit local places of worship if they take this course.
Meets General Education “Aesthetic and Philosophical Expression” Group A requirement ( for students entering Aurora University prior to Summer 2014).

REL2320 The Faiths of India 4 semester hours
This course introduces students primarily to the study of Hinduism and Buddhism, but also examines Jainism and Sikhism. It studies their origins in the South Asian subcontinent. It explores some of their seminal texts and divergent beliefs and practices. Students are encouraged to take seriously the cultural and aesthetic achievements and interaction of these religions. It introduces students to dias pora communities (“dispersion” into other countries, including the U.S.) and to modern reconstructions of faith. Students will and must visit a local Hindu or Buddhist place of worship if they take this course.
Meets General Education “Aesthetic and Philosophical Expression” Group A requirement ( for students entering Aurora University prior to Summer 2014).

REL2330 The Faiths of East Asia 4 semester hours
This course introduces students to some of the main currents of religious belief, practice and identity in China, Japan and Southeast Asia, taking into account both historical development and contemporary expressions. Topics may include “classic” traditions, such as Daoism, Confucianism and Buddhism, as well as folk religions, such as Shinto. Some consideration also may be given to the interactions between religious traditions and political ideologies in the 20th century, as well as to the reception of Western faiths (e.g., Christianity and Islam) and competing models of secularity. Students will be encouraged to take seriously the cultural, aesthetic and intellectual achievements of these traditions, as well as to reflect critically on the challenges and opportunities they face at the start of the 21st century.

REL/HIS2760 Religion in America 4 semester hours
This course will survey the history of religion in America from the period immediately prior to European contact with its indigenous peoples to the present, examining the religious institutions, beliefs, practices, and experiences that have been formative in the shaping of American culture. Topics may include: Native American religious traditions prior to European contact; Christian implication in and critiques of the European colonization of the “new world”; Christian enslavement of native peoples; religious aspects of the early colonial experience; the Puritan commonwealth; the experience of religious minorities in the colonies (e.g., Catholics, Jews); the Great Awakening; religion in the American Revolution; the Second Great Awakening; the abolition movement; religion and the Civil War; challenges to traditional religious belief in the 19th century (e.g., Darwin, Marx, Freud); religion and the rights of women; the global missions movement; industrialization and the social gospel; fundamentalism and liberalism as responses to modernity; religion and war in the 20th century; the rise of religious pluralism and the “post-secular” state; and Islam in America.

REL/PHL3100 Philosophy of Religion 4 semester hours
Cross-listed with PHL3100. For description, see PHY3100.
Prerequisite: An introductory philosophy or religion course.
Meets General Education “Aesthetic and Philosophical Expression” Group A requirement ( for students entering Aurora University prior to Summer 2014).

REL3350 Jesus 4 semester hours
This course introduces students to different portrayals of Jesus, mostly within, but occasionally outside, the Christian religion. This course describes a number of New Testament understandings of Jesus; explores understandings of Jesus conveyed by music, art and architecture; describes understandings of Jesus in at least one religion other than Christianity; and explores contemporary Western understandings of Jesus, influenced by secularism.
Meets General Education “Aesthetic and Philosophical Expression” Group A requirement ( for students entering Aurora University prior to Summer 2014).

REL3360 Jewish and Christian Responses to the Holocaust 4 semester hours
This course examines the radical reshaping of Christian (especially Roman Catholic and Protestant) beliefs and practices toward Jews in the wake of the impact of Chris tian teaching upon the Nazis’ justification for the destruction of European Jewry in the 1930s and 1940s. This reshaping has particularly affected Christian liturgy (including hymns and set orders of worship), approaches toward mission and evan gelism, core teachings about the meaning and purpose of Jesus as God’s messenger to humankind, and attitudes toward the meaning of the State of Israel for both Christians and Jews. Students will also examine recent Jewish reflections upon how Jews now regard Christianity as an instrument of the divine purpose.
Meets General Education “Aesthetic and Philosophical Expression” Group A requirement ( for students entering Aurora University prior to Summer 2014).

REL3400 Love the Stranger: The History and Significance of Interfaith Dialogue 4 semester hours
This course argues that interfaith dialogue is an exciting and vibrant part of contemporary religious studies, and must be taken seriously as a faithful alternative to fundamentalist and other exclusive claims to truth. It explores the origin of a dialogical approach to other faiths from its roots in seminal religious texts, and its growing importance since the first Parliament of the World’s Religions in 1893. It also introduces students to the views of important contemporary and near contemporary intellectuals, mostly but not all Christians, who have examined this issue. These may include, among others: Geoffrey Parrinder, Wilfred Cantwell Smith, Seyyed Hossain Nasr, Kenneth Cracknell and Diana Eck.

REL/ART3450 Icons and Idols: Religion and Art 4 semester hours
Cross-listed with ART3450. For description, see ART3450.
Prerequisite: One prior college-level art history and/or religion course.

REL/HIS3750 Topics in Religious History 4 semester hours
Regular courses reflecting faculty interests. Courses are designed to provide students with an introduction to significant religious figures, events, and movements and the history of religion in specific regions or eras. Students will gain skills in analyzing both historical and scholarly sources and learn the foundational principles needed for taking more advanced courses found at the 3000-level. This course designation is repeatable for credit.

REL/HIS3800 Reformation Europe 4 semester hours
This course will examine the fragmentation of Western Christendom in the 16th century, a constellation of events with epoch-making consequences for the religious, political, social and economic history of Western civilization. Topics may include: the late medieval backdrop to the Reformation movements; competing theories of papal authority and secular sovereignty in the later middle ages; the rise of print technology; renaissance humanism; the life and career of Martin Luther; the “princes’ reformation” in the Holy Roman Empire; the “urban reformation” in upper Germany and the Swiss cantons; the Peasants’ War; the life and career of JohnCalvin; the Huguenot movement and the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre; the French Wars of Religion; the Dutch Revolt; reform of the church under the Tudor monarchs; the Anabaptist movement and the “Radical Reformation”; the Counter- Reformation, Catholic reform, and the Council of Trent; the life and career of Ignatius of Loyola and the formation of the Jesuit order; the confessionalization of church and state; the effects of the Reformation on art, architecture and music; and modern interpretations of the Reformation era (e.g., Engels, Weber).
Prerequisite: One prior college-level history or religion course.

REL4200 Topics in Contemporary Religion 4 semester hours
Regular courses reflecting faculty research interests. These advanced-level courses enable students to build upon the content knowledge, analytical skills and investigative methods acquired in other courses, to study a more specific religious subject in depth, and to deepen their engagement in a particular area related to the place of religion and the religions in the modern world. Courses may include: the impact of religion in politics and/or conflict (e.g. in the Middle East); religion in film; religion and contemporary ethics; issues in inter-religious dialogue and engagement; and religion and culture.
Prerequisite: One prior religion class at 2000-level or above.

REL4990 Seminar in Religious Studies 4 semester hours
This is the senior capstone for the religion major and is conducted in seminar fashion that may change from year to year. The seminar is chosen from the major areas of contemporary religious studies for an in-depth study and presentation. Students will engage in individual research specific aspects related to
the topic. Course content will vary according to contemporary issues and research interests.
Prerequisites: REL2060; additional coursework in religion.