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University Bulletin

Undergraduate Degree Programs

Religious Studies (RL ST)

RL ST 001 (GH;US;IL) Introduction to World Religions (3) An historical and comparative survey of the principal beliefs and practices of the world's major religions.

RL ST 001 Introduction to World Religious (3)
(GH;US;IL)

(BA) This course meets the Bachelor of Arts degree requirements.

The academic study of religion is distinct from instruction in a religion, in that one seeks simply to learn about a religion, its history, texts, major personages, and belief claims. Because religions are always deeply intertwined with the entire cultural history of a region (linked with everything from weather and topography to political, social and economic history), studying a religion always means placing it in its larger cultural context. World Religions (RL ST 001) is an introduction to the religions of the world, past and present. After an introduction to the academic study of religion and various aspects of the field (methods, history, problems), the course begins a more--or--less chronological progression from the ancient world to our contemporary times. Each religion (e.g.: Ancient Near Eastern; Greek and Roman; Hinduism; Buddhism; Judaism; Christianity; Islam; NRMs ["New Religious Movements"]) is placed in its historical, social, and cultural context. The questions that arise in the course of such study are profound (e.g.: how have various religions answered the major questions of life: the question of the meaning of life; the question of evil; the question of how one defines "moral" behavior; the question of how one deals with others who may have a different religion or different morality; etc.), and can be of great help in critically examining one's own views and presuppositions about such matters. The student should leave the course with a good grasp of the variety of answers given by human beings to these "religious" questions over the centuries; how religions are linked to their cultures; how religions change and transform themselves; and how religions function within a culture, including our own. This should provide the student an excellent framework within which to reflect on his or her own religious experience, and prepare the student for mature, sophisticated interaction with the topic of religion later in life. An example of evaluation may be: Evaluation based on discussion, quizzes, mid-term and final exam. As an introduction to religion--and world religions in particular--RL ST 001 offers a brief overview of all the world's major religions, most of which are the subject of focused courses at the 100--level and above. Because RL ST 001 also contains modules relevant to the methodologies used in the academic study of religion, it is also related (or linked) to all other courses in religious studies, which use these same methods. RL ST 001 may be used to fulfill 3 credits in the Humanities. RL ST 001 also may be used to fulfill a US;IL requirement in the major or minor.


General Education: GH
Diversity: US;IL
Bachelor of Arts: Other Cultures and Humanities
Effective: Summer 2005

Note : Class size, frequency of offering, and evaluation methods will vary by location and instructor. For these details check the specific course syllabus.