Course Descriptions

 

100 Level

111 Compassionate Global Citizenship: World Religions I

This course provides a survey of indigenous and eastern religious traditions. Students are introduced to the sacred texts and narratives, myths, symbols and rituals of Indigenous religions, Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism. Through exploring the history, philosophy and sociology of these cultures, students will gain insight into key elements of global diversity.  The course is designed to foster skills for compassionate global citizenship.  Themes considered may include health, ecology, or social justice and peace movements.  Credit will be granted for only one of RELS 111, RELS 110(111/112), or RELS 120. Three credits. Offered 2017-2018.

Compassionate Global Citizenship: World Religions I

 

112 Compassionate Global Citizenship: World Religions II

This course provides a survey of Judaism, Christianity, Islam and new religious movements.  Students are introduced to the sacred texts, myths, symbols, rituals, history, philosophy and sociology of cults and new religious movements, Judaism, Christianity and Islam.  This course fosters compassionate global citizenship by preparing students for a comprehensive understanding of multicultural diversity. Themes such as health, ecology, or social justice and peace movements may be covered. Credit will be granted for only one of RELS 112,  RELS110(111/112), or RELS 120. Three credits. Offered 2017-2018.

Compassionate Global Citizenship: World Religions II

 

117 Ethical Principles for Health Care Providers

This course is designed to provide the foundation for promoting moral development and ethical competence among health care professionals as informed by diverse religious and cultural traditions. 
Students will be introduced to the moral and ethical principles underlying debates concerning advancements in medical technologies.  Special emphasis will be placed on the moral behaviours and skills demonstrated by exemplary health care providers in health care settings. Three credits. Offered
2017-2018.

120 Religion, Spirituality, and Health

This is an introductory course which provides a thematic focus on spirituality, healing and well-being in selected Eastern and Western religious traditions.  Each unit of study will include an introduction to the tradition; explore spiritual paths pursued by its practioners; examine characteristics of illness, healing and well-being in the tradition; and explore one or more specific contemporary health concerns and healing practices which arise from within each religious tradition.  Credit will be granted for only one of RELS 120, RELS 100, or RELS 110(111/112). Six credits.

200 Level

200 Introduction to Religious Ethics

An introduction to religious ethics, this course examines Christian and other religious traditions and their approaches to social justice, ecology, pluralism, healthcare, and non-violence. Six credits.

210 The Bible and Film

This course examines the impact of the Bible on film, and introduces major biblical themes in films with, and films without, explicit religious content. Students will learn how biblical knowledge can enrich our understanding of modern culture and important human issues, such as creation, redemption, election, messiah-ship, charisma, and tradition. Three credits. Offered every year.

212 Christianity

This course is a comprehensive investigation of the history, teachings, and cultural influence of Christianity from its beginnings as an attempted renewal of Judaism in the first century of the common era to its current role as an international influence on world affairs.  We will examine representative texts and thinkers comparing the differences among the various denominations of Christianity (Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Protestant).  Students will also learn about the past and contemporary relationships between Christianity and other religions, especially Judaism and Islam.  Credit will be granted for only one of RELS 212 or RELS 100.  Three credits. Offered 2017-2018.

214 Judaism

This course introduces the historical development of Judaism from its origin to the 21st century.  Special attention is given to factors that shaped this development: geographical, political, economic, social, and theological.  Three credits.

215 Sociology of Religion

An introduction to the sociological study of religion. Topics include: social factors that influence religion at individual and communal levels; religion as agent of social cohesion and social conflict; religion and power structures; the impact of pluralism and globalization on religion today. Cross-listed as SOCI 227.  Three credits.  Offered every year.

219 Celtic Paganism

This course examines the religious practices and beliefs of the ancient Celtic peoples
that we can glean from archaeology, reports of Greek and Roman commentators,
place-name evidence, and the mythology in medieval Irish and Welsh narrative
tradition. Other topics include syncretism, the adaptation of pagan festivals into
Christian holidays, the persistence of elements of paganism into the Christian era,
witchcraft in Scotland and Ireland in the context of the European phenomenon and
neo-paganism today. Cross-listed as CELT 220. Three credits. Offered 2017-2018.

221 Religion and the Environment Crisis

Perhaps the greatest challenge of our time is the ecological crisis.  This threat has provoked widespread reflection upon humanity's relationship to its environment.  Such reflection however is not new.  This relationship was already being explored millennia ago, in humanity's most ancient religious texts.  This course investigates the historical interaction of religion and ecology, and considers how religion might yet constitute either a hindrance or an aid in navigating the present ecological crisis.  Credit will be granted for only one of RELS 221 or  RELS 356.  Three credits. Offered in 2017-2018

225 Cults and Alternative Religions

A study of cults in the context of 20th-century North American society, beginning
with defining cults in relation to sects and churches. Topics include neo-paganism;
Hare Krishna; the theosophical tradition; the Unification Church; tragic endings to
cults such as the Branch Davidians and Heaven’s Gate; why people join cults;
and the religio-cultural significance of cults today. Three credits. Offered in 2017-2018

229 Celtic Christianity

This course is an exploration of the development of Christianity amongst the Celtic
peoples. A major facet will be the medieval hagiographic tradition and saints’ cults
from the fourth to the twelfth centuries. Other topics include monasticism, peregrini,
the Hiberno-Scottish mission to the continent, conflict with Roman Catholicism,
material culture, the modern use of the term “Celtic Christianity”. Cross-listed as
CELT 230. Three credits. Offered in 2017-2018.

235 Hinduism and Buddhism

This course introduces the paths to enlightenment identified by members of the Hindu and Buddhist traditions of India and Tibet.  We will introduce the philosophy, mythology and ritual traditions of both Hinduism and Buddhism.  Three credits.

246 Philosophy of Religion

Explores the philosophy of religion, including different concepts of God with emphasis on the Judeo-Christian tradition; arguments for the existence of God; classical and modern challenges to belief in God. Issues such as "life after death" miracles, religious experience, and the concept of prayer may also be discussed. Credit will be granted for only one of RELS 246 or PHIL 240.  Three credits.
 

254 Islam

This course surveys the Islamic religious tradition taking account of its historical context from pre-origins till the present.  Students will become conversant with basic Islamic beliefs, texts, and ritual and other practices across a spectrum of schools of thought.  In addition, the course introduces critical questions in the study of Islam.  Credit will be granted for only one of RELS 254 or RELS 370.  Three credits.  Offered 2017-2018.

Islam

 

261 Islam and Film

Students will gain a critical understanding of film as an artifact of culture and a powerful medium of religious and cultural epression in Muslim contexts.  Students encounter themes such as religion and politics, marriage and family, youth, society, sexuality, ritual and devotion, Islamic law, community, and ethics, and engage critically in their cinematic representations.  The course is based primarily on foreign films with English subtitles and provides a foundation for further study of Islamic traditions.  Three credits.  Offered 2017-2018.

 

Islam and Film

 

295 Religion and Politics

An examination of the impact of religion on politics and politics on religion. Students will consider the relationship between religion and politics in the Middle East, Northern Ireland, India and Pakistan, Eastern Europe and North America. Case studies will demonstrate interactions between the state and Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, and Judaism, as well as the influence of religion on citizenship, education, the party system, and social issues. Cross-listed as PSCI 295. Three credits.

298 Selected Topics

The topic for 2017-2018 is Fantastic Beasts and Where to find Them in World Religions. Much contemporary fantasy draws upon ancient and medieval myths about beasts and monsters of various sorts.  In this course, we will consider the religious origins of the fantastic, and how it continues to resonate in our contemporary world.  Three credits.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to find Them in World Religions

 

 

 

300 Level

300 Health Care Ethics

This course examines the role of ethical theory in the development of bio-medical ethics. Topics will be analyzed from the perspective of the health care professional as well as the patient, and will include end-of-life care, genetics, reproductive technologies, and medical research. Cross-listed as NURS 330. Six credits.

310 Religion in Modern India

This course will explore continuity and change in modern Indian religion. After an introduction to contemporary Indian secular democracy, we will explore traditional Indian religion as a living phenomenon and review basic elements of traditional Hinduism. As well, examine the contribution of various change-makers to the evolution of Indian religious tradition and traditional Indian responses to the challenges created by Buddhism, Islam, British colonization, the partition of India, and Indian secular democracy itself.  Six credits.

311 New testament

This course provides an introduction to the academic study of the history and literature of the early Christian movement.  The aim of this course is to provide a solid understanding of the New Testament through close study of texts, historical analysis, and evaluation of evidence and arguments.  We will explore several early Christian groups, their multiple disputes, arguments, positions, theologies, and understandings, through close reading of texts and appreciation of historical contexts.  Credit will be granted for only one of RELS 311, RELS 255, or RELS 265.  Three credits.

312 Old Testament/Hebrew Bible

This course examines the foundation texts of both Judaism and Christianity, notably the prophetic, historical, and wisdom literature included in the Old Testament.  Each biblical book will be placed in its historical, theological, and literary context, by situating it in the relevant archeological data, historical background, and contemporary scholarship.  Credit will be granted for only one of RELS 312 or RELS 253. Three credits. Offered in 2017-2018.

315 Power & Gender in Hinduism and Buddhism

This course reflects on the nature of power as understood in Hindu and Buddhist traditions.  It does this by examining the sacred and gender.  We will study interdependence and transcendence by tracing the relationship of the masculine and feminine principles in the philosophy, mythology, and experience of people in the Hindu and Buddhist traditions of India and Tibet.  Cross-listed as WMGS 397. Three credits. Offered in 2017-2018.

Power & Gender in Hinduism and Buddhism

 

316 Women in Early Judaism

The course investigates the depiction and experience of women from the earliest biblical narratives to the separation of Christianity from Judaism.  Students analyze responses to women and ideas about women in Biblical and other early Jewish writings, in comparison to women in the rest of the Ancient Near East, in conversation with feminist interpreters of the Bible and early Judaism, we will note the relevance of this material for contemporary gender issues.  Cross-listed as WMGS 316. Three credits.

317 Paul and His Interpreters

This course provides an introduction to the academic study of the history and literature of the early Christian movement.  The aim of this course is to provide a solid understanding of the New Testament (through close study of texts, historical analysis, and evaluation of evidence and arguments.  We will explore several early Christian groups, their multiple disputes, arguments, positions, theologies, and understandings, through close reading of texts and appreciation of historical contexts.  Credit will be granted for only one of RELS 317 or RELS 275.  Three credits.

325 Early Christian Women

This course investigates women’s participation in early Christian groups from the time of Jesus’ ministry to the 6th century. Christian women’s lives will be compared to those of women in Jewish and Greco-Roman societies. Students will analyze New Testament and other early Christian writings, read feminist scholarship, and examine such issues as women’s leadership and violence against women. Cross-listed as WMGS 325.Three credits. Offered in 2017-2018.

326 Hindu Deities

This course presents the stories of goddesses and gods in the Hindu pantheon.  It explores elements of ancient and classical Hindu thought associated with these stories of these deities.  It identifies related elements in classical schools of Hindu philosophies such as Samkhya and Vedanta, and gives voice to the poets of the medieval Hindu devotional tradition.  Together we will explore concepts of self, other, the world, devotion, the divine and freedom in Hindu religious thought.  Three credits.

327 Buddhist Thought:  the Way of the Bodhisattva

This course presents the Buddhist ideal of the Way of Bodhisattva, one who vows to continue to re-incarnate, lifetime after lifetime, in order to serve all beings until such time as all beings are freed from suffering.  It examines early Buddhist Teachings that anticipate the development of this ideal, including the Theravada Buddhist focus on the strenght of discipline of the mind and body, before detailing the Mahayana Buddhist development of this ideal and its expansion in the narrative and practice of Vajrayana or Tibetan Buddhist tradition.  It will include study of Buddhist philosophy regarding the gradual states of realisation of enlightment. Three credits.

328 Mind, Self and Society

This summer course offers three weeks of intensive learning in preparation for a one-week experience of Buddhist monastic practice to take place at Gampo Abbey in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia.  Study will include the historical development of Buddhism, and in particular of Tibetan Buddhism, along with the examination of ethical and philosophic underpinnings of Buddhist monastic practice.  A variety of contemplative techniques will be experienced during our time as part of the Buddhist monastic community.  Prerequisite: permission of the instructor; enrolment is limited.  Three credits. Offered 2017-2018.

Mind, Self and Society

 

 

331 Social Activists Inspired by the Bible

Trace the religious origins of ideas that have inspired global leaders to engage issues of social justice in the world.  The specific activists and religious texts surveyed vary from year to year, typically including Moses Coady, Martin Luthr King Jr., Mother Theresa, the Dalai Lama, Pope Francis, Bob Marley, Bono, Desmond Tutu, Tommy Douglas, Nelson Mandela, Charles Wesley, Elie Wiesel, Jimmy Carter, Rosemary Ruether, and Dietrich Bonhoeffer.  Three credits. Offered in 2017-2018.

Social Activists Inspired by the Bible

 

 

333 Religion, Violence and Peace

Contrary to an old belief, in our time religion is increasingly associated with violence rather than peace.  This course explains why this is the case and whether there is an inherently violent element in religion that has passed unnoticed until now.  The investigation takes us through Greek, Roman, Jewish, Christian and Islamic religions to find the religious underpinnings to concepts of sacrifice, scapegoating, lynching, and global violence.  Credit will be granted for only one of RELS 333 and RELS 335.  Three credits.  Offered in 2017-2018.

334  Black/African Diaspora: Culture Religion and Society

This course critically examines structural and sociocultural factors that operate and/or reproduce powerlessness among Black people in the Diaspora.  Attention will be given to Black/African culture, experience and contributions, especially in Canada, the United States, and the Caribbean.  Attention will also be given to the intersection of religion and cultural exrpessions in the African Diaspora.  The importance of religion in the Black Diaspora's experience of both oppression and liberation will be a key component of our analytic framework.  Credit will be granted for only one of RELS 334 or RELS 398.  Cross-listed as SOCI 337. Offered 2017-2018.

342 Prophets and Prophecy

This course surveys the role and teaching of the biblical prophets in their ancient setting, and their impact on modern life and thought.  Credit will be granted for only one of RELS 342 or RELS 253 or RELS 312. Three credits.

352 History of Early Judah

This course explores the history of ancient Judaism from the Babylonian captivity in 586 BCE to the fall of Jerusalem in 70 CE.  Students will examine the geography, culture, and historical milieu of the Apocrypha, Dead Sea Scrolls, Jesus, and the earliest rabbinic writings, and discuss the major persons and events in ancient Judea.  Cross-listed as HIST 357. Three credits.

353 Iconography of Christian Art: The Life of Christ

Iconography is the identification and interpretation of images. This course is an
introduction to the iconography of Christian art, with an emphasis on images of
the Life and Passion of Christ. The course will examine how images develop over
history, and how they may be understood in light of historical events, changes in
theological thought, and in the artist’s own spirituality. Cross-listed as ART 356. Three credits.

354 Iconography of Christian Art: The Saints

This course is an introduction to the iconography of Christian art, with an emphasis
on images of Mary and the saints. The course will examine how images develop
over history, and how they may be understood in light of historical events, changes
in theological thought, and in the artist’s own spirituality. Discussion will include how
such images were used as objects of personal devotion but also for the conveying
of important theological and social values.Cross-listed as ART 357. Three credits.

363  Christianity in the Roman World

Examines the development of Christianity from its beginnings in the 1st century to its acceptance as the official religion of the Roman Empire in the 4th century. Students will learn about early Christian beliefs and practices, and explore the challenges faced by the first Christians.  Topics include community organization, persecution, martyrdom, Gnosticism, and women in the church. Three credits. Offered in 2017-2018.

365 Spirituality in Medieval Christianity

This course will focus on the spirituality of the formative years in the development of Christian thought, beginning with the legalization of Christianity in 313 CE and ending with the Reformation. Students will see how some of the most searching and intelligent men and women in both the western and eastern churches have wrestled with the question of how it is possible to know God. Three credits

Spirituality in Medieval Christianity

 

374 Modern and Contemporary Islam

This course examines issues and debates in modern and contemporary Islamic discourse from a broad spectrum of perspectives.  The course introduces students to a plurality of voices, both Sunni and Shi'te, on many controversials issues facing Muslims today, including, but not limited to the nature of the Qur'an, methods of interpretation, Muhammad, the role of women, Islam and the West, violence, terrorism, and human ritghts.  The course uses secondary and primary sources in translation.  Three credits. Offered in 2017-2018.

375 Islam in Canada

Focusing primarily on the Canadian context, this course explores the variety of
Muslim identities in North American society. After a brief historical survey of Islam
and Muslims in North America, including immigrant and African-American Islam,
the course examines the diverse perspectives of North American Muslim and non-
Muslim scholars on questions and debates around integration, identity, authority,
youth, education, gender, shariah in Canada (Muslim religious arbitration in civil
law), media representation, discrimination, and surveillance post-9/11. Cross-listed
as SOCI 374.Three credits.

395 Selected Topics
 
The topic for 2017-2018 is Be the Change: Learning Social Justice from Gandhi I.  This course examines what India, and specifically Gandhi, can teach us about how to provoke social change in our world today.  After an introduction to Gandhi, we examine alternate paradigms of thinking that influenced Gandhi, including the ancient Indian philosophic principle of non-dualism and ahimsa, or non-violence, as taught by Buddhism and Jainism  Gandhi's paradigms of thinking have inspired global leaders in their work to de-colonise and remove social limitations based on race and gender.  Credit will be granted for only one of RELS 395 or RELS 310. Three credits. 

Be the Change: Learning Social Justice from Gandhi I

 

 

397 Selected Topics
 
The topic for 2017-2018 is Be the Change: Learning Social Justice from Gandhi II.  This course examines what Gandhi can teach us about how to provoke social change in our world today.  We examine paradigms of thinking of social cohesion and social conflict demonstrated by Indian Islam.  We trace the rise, development and methods of implementing colonialism which continue to shape our world today.  We then closely analyse the work of Gandhi and leaders who worked to de-colonise India and to remove limitations based on gender and caste.  Credit will be granted for only one of RELS 397 or RELS 310. Three credits.
 

Be the Change: Learning Social Justice from Gandhi II

 

398 Selected Topics

The topic for 2017-2018 is African Origins of Christianity.  In this course we will discover the distinctive ideas, practices, and institutions of African Christianity from its beginnings to the present.  We will examine both the roots of African Christianity in such authors as Cyprian and Augustine and the influence of African Christianity on the Western Church.  We will conclude with selections of modern thinkers from an African heritage to explore how they have extended and adapted Christian thought.  Credit will be granted for only one of RELS 398 or RELS 395 offered in 2013-2014.  Three credits.  Offered in 2017-2018.

African Origins of Christianity

 

 

 
401 Religious Approaches to Sexuality

Human sexuality is explored from two main perspectives: first, the teachings and practices of various religious traditions; and second, contemporary developments in sexual and reproductive health and rights. Among the issues to be considered are sexuality and gender roles, contraception and abortion, marriage and family. Cross-listed as WMGS 411. Prerequisites: RELS 100 or 110 or 120 or WMGS 100. Three credits.

402 Religious Approaches to Sexual Diversity

This course will focus on religious teachings and traditions on sexual diversity within the broader context of human rights associated with sexual orientation and sexual differences. In particular, we will look at the experiences of gay, lesbian, bisexual, intersexual and transgendered persons within religious communities. Cross-listed as WMGS 412. Prerequisites: RELS 110 or WMGS 200. Three credits. 

404 The Dead Sea Scrolls

This course surveys the Dead Sea Scrolls found in the Judean desert.  The most important archeological discovery of the 20th century, these scrolls have generated much controversy.  We will examine the major texts from Qumran to assess their impact on our understanding of the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament, and the period of Judaism in which Christianity arose.  We will place the scrolls in their various contexts:  archaelogical, historical, literary, religious, and social.  Credit will be granted for only one of RELS 404 and RELS 318. Three credits.

414 Ancient Indian Myth and Ritual

Ancient Indian thought assumes that there is a fundamental wholeness to our lives
and to our world which only appears at times to be fragmented. The myth, ritual
and philosophy of ancient India are, in many respects, a contemplation on this
basic wholeness and its composite elements. Exploration of ancient Indian thought
with its ideas of humans and demons, ancestors and gods, and our place in the
natural world in light of this reflection on “the parts and the whole” will be discussed.
Prerequisite: RELS 110. Three credits.

416 History and Archeology of Ancient Israel

This course explores the history of ancient Israel and Judah from their origin to the fall of Jerusalem in 586 BCE.  Students will examine the geography, culture, and historical milieu that gave rise to the Old Testament and Hebrew Scriptures, and discuss the major persons and events in ancient Israel and Judah.  Credit will be granted for only one of RELS 416 and RELS 351.  Three credits.

426 The Jewish World of Jesus

This course examines the history and literature of the Jewish people from the period
of the Maccabean Revolt in the 2nd century BCE to the Bar Kokhba Revolt in the
2nd century CE. The literary sources for the study of the Jewish world at the turn
of the era include the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Bible, and the Mishnah. This course
serves as an introduction to the religious and social environment of the historical
Jesus. Credit will be granted for only one of RELS 426 or RELS 440. Prerequisite:
RELS 100 or 110 or 120. Three credits.

427 Jesus the Christ

Building upon RELS 426, this course begins with an examination of aspects of
the life of the historical Jesus, including his teaching, ministry, and the events
leading to his crucifixion. The four canonical Gospels and Letters of Paul will be
analyzed as students probe the question of why Jesus came to be understood as
the Messiah by the first Christians. Credit will be granted for only one of RELS 427 or
RELS 440. Prerequisite: RELS 426 or permission of the instructor. Three credits.