Religious Studies / Center for Religious Understanding
Varner Hall, Room 217
371 Varner Drive
Rochester, MI 48309-4485
(map)
(248) 370-2154

Course Descriptions & General Education

The following is a listing of Religious Studies courses with brief content descriptions.  Six classes satisfy university general educations requirements, two of which also fulfill the writing intensive mandate.  For specific special topic offerings in a given semester, consult the schedule of classes link within the Academics tab on the OU website.
Course Descriptions

REL 1100 - Introduction To Religion

Critical, comparative study of the human religious experience, as well as an examination of various methodological approaches employed by academic disciplines in the study of religion. (Formerly REL 100)

 

REL 1150 - Introduction to Islam

Pre-Islamic Arabia, Muhammad and early Islamic history; the Qur’an and basic beliefs, practices and law; the Islamic Caliphate; Islam in the modern world and Muslims in America; women in Islam and other contemporary issues. Satisfies the university general education requirement in the global perspective knowledge exploration area. Satisfies the university general education requirement for a writing intensive course in general education. Prerequisite for writing intensive: completion of the university writing foundation requirement. (Formerly REL 101)

 

REL 1200 - Introduction to Judaism

Religious beliefs, practices and philosophies embedded within the major historical experiences (Biblical and Diasporic) of Jewish people including main institutional branches of Judaism, central characteristics of Jewish culture, and their relationship with non-Jewish groups and societies. Satisfies the university general education requirement in the global perspective knowledge exploration area. Satisfies the university general education requirement for a writing intensive course in general education. Prerequisite for writing intensive: completion of the university writing foundation requirement. (Formerly REL 102)

 

REL 1250 - Introduction to Christianity

Key ideas, major concepts, and peculiar language of the Christian religious experience. Focus on history of Christianity, creeds and doctrines of various denominations, Christianity’s cultural influences, and Christian ethical systems. Satisfies the university general education requirement in the global perspective knowledge exploration area. (Formerly REL 103)

 

REL 1850 - World Religious Traditions

Examines the core teachings and practices of the world’s major religious traditions, including Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Chinese religions. Emphasis is on terminology developed within each tradition, identification of human problems that each attempts to solve, and the insights and problematic issues that arise from these attempts. Satisfies the university general education requirement in the global perspective knowledge exploration area. (Formerly REL 150)

 

REL 2100 - Basic Religious Writings

Explores the various roles played by core texts within both Western and Eastern religious traditions. Basic texts from these traditions are analyzed and compared, revealing the essential approaches to religious life contained in each. (Formerly REL 201)

 

REL 3100 - Islamic Ethics

Major principles and theories of Islamic ethics. Application of these ideas to issues of deforestation, global warming, sustainability, women’s rights, abortion and cloning. Comparisons with other philosophical and religious theories. (Formerly REL 321)

 

REL 3110 - Christian Ethics

Study of the dialogue between philosophical ethics and the Christian tradition. Ethical models of Christian tradition from late Jewish moral theory through the Greeks, Romans, and into the present. Christian perspectives on contemporary moral problems and social issues. (Formerly REL 323)

 

REL 3120 - Philosophy of Religion

Identical with (PHL 325 or PHL 3150). (Formerly REL 325)

Prerequisite(s): one course in philosophy or religious studies or permission of instructor.

 

REL 3130 - Islam in the Modern World

Exploration of political, social, cultural, and religious developments in a diverse array of Muslim societies in the contemporary world. Examination of interaction between Western notions of modernity and Islam. Analysis of Western influence on Muslim societies and Muslim responses to the West. Topical issues include women’s rights, democracy, and the rise of radical groups. (Formerly REL 331)

 

REL 3140 - Religion in the Modern World

Focuses on key issues of religious life in the modern world. Examples of topics include the role of women in religious leadership, the relation of science and religion, religious fundamentalism, and religiously motivated acts of terrorism. Satisfies the university general education requirement in the knowledge applications integration area. Prerequisite for knowledge applications: completion of the general education requirement in the social science or the global perspective knowledge exploration area, not both. (Formerly REL 351)

REL 3150 - Philosophies and Religions of Asia

Identical with (PHL 350 or PHL 3155). (Formerly REL 359)

 

REL 3400 - The Sociology of Religion

Identical with (SOC 305 or SOC 3420). (Formerly REL 305)

Prerequisite(s): (SOC 100 or SOC 1000) or (SOC 205 or SOC 2200)

 

REL 3410 - American Religious Experience

Study of a variety of religious traditions (e.g., Buddhist, Catholic, Hindu, Islamic, Native American, Protestant) as these are understood and lived by followers within the modern pluralistic society of North America. Also focuses on secularity, “NRM’s” (New Religious Movements), and the emergence of American-born spiritual communities of faith. (Formerly REL 303)

 

REL 3420 - Jewish History

Survey of Jewish history from its foundation to more modern periods, including such topics as the Jewish Patriarchs, Jewish kingdoms, Jews in the Roman Empire, Jews in the Medieval Period, and Jewish experiences in Europe and the United States. (Formerly REL 307)

 

REL 3430 - The Jewish Experience in American Life

History of Jews as an American minority group, a dissenting non-Christian religious group, an immigrant and ethnic group, and a cultural group. Emphasis on themes of assimilation and conflict, as well as contributions to American society. (Formerly REL 420)

 

REL 3440 - The Holocaust

Examines events and contributing factors culminating in the Holocaust. Specific topics include history of anti-Semitism in Europe, rise of Nazism in Germany, Nazi Jewish policies, Jewish life under Nazism, design and execution of the death camps, world response, and the meaning of the Holocaust. (Formerly REL 421)

 

REL 3450 - Islam in America

Examination of the history, development, and challenges facing the Muslim community in the United States. Emphasis on the diversity of this community and its role in the greater Detroit area. (Formerly REL 422)

 

REL 3460 - Magic, Witchcraft and Religion

Identical with (AN 271 or AN 3123). (Formerly REL 271)

Prerequisite(s): (AN 102 or AN 1111).

 

REL 3700 - The Book of Genesis

Examination of the major themes in the Book of Genesis, including creation, relationship between people and God, and human nature. Course will incorporate archaeology, rabbinic and Christian commentary, and literary analysis. (Formerly REL 317)

 

REL 3710 - Written Traditions of Judaism

Examination of Jewish sacred texts and their development in Jewish history. Texts include the Hebrew Bible, Talmuds, early mystical works, devotional texts from medieval Europe, and the Kabbalah. Texts are in English translation. A significant emphasis is placed on reading and the meaning of these texts. (Formerly REL 318)

 

REL 3720- Concepts of God and Man in Judaism

Examination of how ideas of God and humans’ relationship to God are presented in Jewish religious texts and how they have evolved over time. Important issues include the nature of God, free will, sin, repentance, and the question of evil. (Formerly REL 319)

Prerequisite(s): (REL 100 or REL 1100) or (REL 102 or REL 1200) recommended.

 

REL 3730 - Early Christian Spirituality

Social, historical and textual study of how Christianity as a new religion developed a unique spirituality enabling followers to approach their God using insights from Paul the Apostle, the Gospels, St. Augustine, and others. (Formerly REL 349)

 

REL 3740 - The Bible as Literature

Identical with (ENG 305 or ENG 3650). (Formerly REL 353) Satisfies the university general education requirement in the literature knowledge exploration area.

Prerequisite(s): (WRT 160 or WRT 1060) with a grade of 2.0 or higher and junior standing.

 

REL 3750 - Science and Religion

Examines the relationship between religion and modern science from an historical and contemporary perspective. Scientific descriptions of reality are compared and contrasted with contemporary expressions of religious belief. Satisfies the university general education requirement in the knowledge applications integration area. Prerequisite for knowledge applications: completion of the general education requirement in the natural science and technology knowledge exploration area. (Formerly REL 355)

 

REL 3900 - Special Topics in Religious Studies

Topics in history, literature, culture and philosophy of different religious traditions. May be repeated for additional credit under different subtitle. (Formerly REL 300)

 

REL 4920 - Directed Readings in the Religious Studies

Individual study of topic(s) not covered in available courses. May be repeated for additional credit. (Formerly REL 490)

Prerequisite(s): (REL 100 or REL 1100) and (REL 201 or REL 2100) and permission of concentration coordinator.

 

REL 4950 - Religious Community Project Internship

Field placement in an approved religious community project. Field notes, regular consultation with the program director, and an analytical paper of the experience are part of the requirements. (Formerly REL 450)

Prerequisite(s): minor or concentration in religious studies and permission of program director.

 

Gen Ed Course Descriptions

Six courses in Religious Studies currently fulfill university general education requirements:

  • REL 1150 (Formerly REL 101)
  • REL 1200 (Formerly REL 102)
  • REL 1250 (Formerly REL 103)
  • REL 1850 (Formerly REL 150)
  • REL 3140 (Formerly REL 351)
  • REL 3750 (Formerly REL 355)

 

Two courses in Religious Studies currently fulfill university writing intensive requirements:

  • REL 1150 (Formerly REL 101)
  • REL 1200 (Formerly REL 102)

 

COURSE DESCRIPTIONS

 

REL 1150 - Introduction to Islam

Pre-Islamic Arabia, Muhammad and early Islamic history; the Qur’an and basic beliefs, practices and law; the Islamic Caliphate; Islam in the modern world and Muslims in America; women in Islam and other contemporary issues. Satisfies the university general education requirement in the global perspective knowledge exploration area. Satisfies the university general education requirement for a writing intensive course in general education. Prerequisite for writing intensive: completion of the university writing foundation requirement. (Formerly REL 101)

 

REL 1200 - Introduction to Judaism

Religious beliefs, practices and philosophies embedded within the major historical experiences (Biblical and Diasporic) of Jewish people including main institutional branches of Judaism, central characteristics of Jewish culture, and their relationship with non-Jewish groups and societies. Satisfies the university general education requirement in the global perspective knowledge exploration area. Satisfies the university general education requirement for a writing intensive course in general education. Prerequisite for writing intensive: completion of the university writing foundation requirement. (Formerly REL 102)

 

REL 1250 - Introduction to Christianity

Key ideas, major concepts, and peculiar language of the Christian religious experience. Focus on history of Christianity, creeds and doctrines of various denominations, Christianity’s cultural influences, and Christian ethical systems. Satisfies the university general education requirement in the global perspective knowledge exploration area. (Formerly REL 103)

 

REL 1850 - World Religious Traditions

Examines the core teachings and practices of the world’s major religious traditions, including Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Chinese religions. Emphasis is on terminology developed within each tradition, identification of human problems that each attempts to solve, and the insights and problematic issues that arise from these attempts. Satisfies the university general education requirement in the global perspective knowledge exploration area. (Formerly REL 150)

 

REL 3130 - Islam in the Modern World

Exploration of political, social, cultural, and religious developments in a diverse array of Muslim societies in the contemporary world. Examination of interaction between Western notions of modernity and Islam. Analysis of Western influence on Muslim societies and Muslim responses to the West. Topical issues include women’s rights, democracy, and the rise of radical groups. (Formerly REL 331)

 

REL 3750 - Science and Religion

Examines the relationship between religion and modern science from an historical and contemporary perspective. Scientific descriptions of reality are compared and contrasted with contemporary expressions of religious belief. Satisfies the university general education requirement in the knowledge applications integration area. Prerequisite for knowledge applications: completion of the general education requirement in the natural science and technology knowledge exploration area. (Formerly REL 355)

 

Religious Studies
Cross-Listed Courses

Religious Studies offers some courses cross-listed with other academic units of the University.  Students may use such courses to fulfill requirements for Religious Studies or for the companion department.  Such partner departments include: Anthropology, English, History, Philosophy, Political Science, and Sociology.

 

 

Cross-listed Courses for Fall 2017:

REL 3120 (Formerly REL 325) / PHL 3150 (Formerly PHL 325) - Philosophy of Religion

                                     Daniel Propson: MWF 2:40-3:47 p.m.  136B DH

REL 3440 (Formerly REL 421) / HST 3903 (Formerly HST 390) - The Holocaust

                                     Ian Greenspan: MWF 1:20-2:27 p.m. 105 WH

REL 3740 (Formerly REL 353) / ENG 3650 (Formerly ENG 305) - The Bible as Literature

                                     Doris Plantus: MWF 10:40-11:47 a.m. 169 SFH

REL 3900 (Formerly REL 300) / AN 3900 (Formerly AN 395) - ST: Monotheistic Mysticism

                                     Michael Pytlik: T 5:30-8:50 p.m. 220 HH 

Cross-listed Courses for Winter 2018:

REL 3420 (Formerly REL 307) / HST 3906 (Formerly HST 390) - Jewish History

                                     Ian Greenspan: TR 3:00-4:47 p.m.  204 EH

REL 3460 (Formerly REL 271) / AN 3123 (Formerly AN 271) - Magic, Witchcraft and Religion

                                     Henri Gooren: T 5:30-8:50 p.m. 272 SFH

REL 3740 (Formerly REL 353) / ENG 3650 (Formerly ENG 305) - The Bible as Literature

                                     Doris Plantus: TR 10:00-11:47 a.m. 208 EH