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Catalog Course Descriptions

Catalog of Courses in Philosophy

PHIL 111. Introduction: Knowledge, Reality, and the Human Condition
This course introduces students to philosophy through an examination of fundamental questions about the nature of reality, the possibility of knowledge, and the human search for meaning. By reading and discussing the work of several major philosophers, students learn to engage in careful and critical reflection on their own lives and on what it means to be a human being.
This course fulfills a General Education requirement in the Humanities.

PHIL 112. Introduction: Ethics and Society
This course introduces students to philosophy through the study of ethics. Readings from major philosophers focus questions about value in human life and actions. Topics covered may include the nature of ethical reasoning and moral obligation, the value of morality to the individual and society, how ethics helps us understand our place in the universe, and how ethical ideas clarify moral problems facing society.
This course fulfills a General Education requirement in the Humanities.

PHIL 113. Introduction: Reasoning and Argument
This course introduces students to basic principles of reasoning and argumentation. Students learn to distinguish between valid and invalid reasoning, to recognize patterns of deductive and inductive arguments, to understand the way evidence is used in reasoning, to construct deductive proofs, and to evaluate the soundness of arguments both in everyday contexts and in writings of some major philosophers.
This course fulfills a General Education requirement in the Humanities.

PHIL 114. Introduction: The Origins of Western Philosophy
This course introduces students to philosophy by tracing the development of the discipline from its origins in ancient Greece to the decline of the ancient world in the 4th and 5th centuries CE. Through an examination of the work of such thinkers as Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, students learn to engage in careful and critical reflection on both the human and the natural world and to experience the sense of wonder that animates the discipline of philosophy.
This course fulfills a General Education requirement in the Humanities.

PHIL 201. Medieval and Renaissance Philosophy
Prerequisite: PHIL 114
This course traces the development of Western philosophy from the end of the Roman Empire through the Middle Ages to the Renaissance and the beginnings of the modern world. Emphasis is placed on the philosophical systems of major figures such as St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas.

PHIL 213. Critical Reasoning and Argumentation
Prerequiaite: None
This course aims at advanced student skills and dispositions In critical reasoning and argumentation. It moves from review of general critical thinking competencies applicable to thinking within all domains and subjects, to the introduction and study of more domain-specific competencies in legal, moral, and scientific reasoning.

PHIL 305. Early Modern Philosophy
Prerequisite: PHIL 114
Traces the development of Western philosophy from Descartes in the late-16th century through Hume in the mid-18th century. Emphasis is placed on the metaphysical and epistemological systems of such major philosophers as Descartes, Leibniz, Locke, and Hume.

PHIL 306. Late Modern Philosophy
Prerequisite: PHIL 114
Traces the development of European philosophy from Kant to Nietzsche. Philosophical movements including German Idealism, Positivism and 19th Century Materialism, and Existentialism will be examined.

PHIL 310. Professional Ethics
Prerequisite: Three hours of Philosophy
This course examines contemporary ethical issues presented by various disciplines and professions in light of ethical theories. This course will focus on ethical questions and problems that arise in a variety of professions including medicine, law, nursing, education, social work, and journalism.

PHIL 320. Metaphysics
Prerequisite: Three hours of philosophy
This course examines basic theories of reality such as materialism, idealism, and dualism. Among the philosophical issues addressed are the following: the nature of mind, the mind-body problem, free will and determinism, the nature of space and time, and proofs concerning the existence of God.

PHIL 330. Theories of Knowledge
Prerequisite: Three hours of philosophy
This course investigates the nature, extent, and sources of human knowledge and the relation between the concepts of knowledge, belief, and truth. Major theories which are examined include empiricism and rationalism.

PHIL 340. Symbolic Logic
Prerequisite: Three hours of philosophy or mathematics
This advanced course in formal logic presents various methods and principles of symbolic logic for use in appraising arguments for validity and invalidity. Topics covered include truth tables, rules of inference, proof procedures, quantification theory, and the logic of relations.

PHIL 350. Philosophy of Religion
Prerequisite: Three hours of philosophy or religious studies
This course examines major approaches to the philosophical understanding of religion. It investigates a number of specific issues within contemporary philosophy of religion such as those of religious "truth," "faith," and "experience."

PHIL 360. Existential Philosophy
Prerequisite: Three hours of philosophy
This course is a detailed study of the origins and historical development of the 20th century movement in philosophy called existentialism. Through a careful reading of both literary and philosophical texts, students explore such fundamental existential themes and issues as freedom, responsibility, anguish, alienation, authenticity, and death. Special emphasis is given to major thinkers such as Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, and Sartre.

PHIL 366. Philosophy Travel Course Prerequisite: Approval of the Office of Student Affairs and instructor
This course combines a selected topic in philosophy with international or domestic travel, providing opportunities for “on location” study of especially the history of philosophy, in line with the department’s commitment to that history. It provides for combining the content of existing PHIL courses and/or new or specialized course content with travel.

PHIL 370. Philosophy of Language
Prerequisite: Three hours of philosophy
This course examines the contemporary philosophical focus on language. Course topics include the nature and functions of language and theories of meaning. The course will consider both the historical roots and recent developments in the area.

PHIL 375. Philosophy of Law
Prerequisite: Three hours of philosophy
Examines the central historical and contemporary issues in the philosophy of law. Includes an in-depth study of the central conceptual problems with philosophy of law today, the historical development of the concept of law in Western thought, and the unique issues that arise when the rule of law is envisioned on a planetary scale.

PHIL 380. Aesthetics
Prerequisite: Three hours of philosophy
This course explores various theories and philosophical issues concerning the nature of creativity and the nature and significance of art in all of its forms. Students engage in a critical examination of such questions as these: What exactly to we mean by a "work of art"? What is beauty? What is an aesthetic experience? How are aesthetic values related to other sorts of values? How do artworks have meaning? What sort of truth can be found in art?

PHIL 390. Ethical Theory
Prerequisite: Three hours of philosophy
This course is an in-depth examination of perennial problems and issues in ethical theory. Texts of major philosophers such as Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas, Hume, and Kant are used to focus discussion of topics such as the nature of justice, happiness and the good life, duty and moral obligation, and moral virtue.

PHIL 421. Topics in Philosophy
Prerequisite: Six hours of philosophy
This course is an in-depth examination of the work of one major philosopher; a single school or movement in the history of philosophy; or a particular problem, theme, or issue of contemporary interest. Emphasis is placed on the careful reading and critical discussion of primary philosophical texts. This course may be taken twice with a different topic each time.

PHIL 488H. Final Honors Project
Prerequisites: Enrollment in the Honors Program, completion of all other Honors Program requirements, a minimum of 3.5 GPA in all courses and in philosophy
Project and topic to be determined by the student, the faculty member with whom the student works, and the department. In order to receive honors credit, the student must earn a grade of "A" or "B" for the final project. Course may not be repeated.

PHIL 490. Philosophy Internship
Prerequisites: 18 hours of Philosophy; junior or senior standing; minimum 3.0 GPA in major; approval of the department chairperson.
Offers an opportunity through experiential learning to apply Philosophy skills in a career-oriented atmosphere. The internship consists of a one or two semester placement with a business, governmental agency, or service organization interested in utilizing a philosophy background and critical and analytic thinking skills, research and writing skills, and knowledge of issues addressed in the study of philosophy. Grading will be on A-F basis. No more than 3 credit hours may be applied toward the requirements for the major.

PHIL 498. Independent Study
Prerequisites: Approval of department curriculum committee and department chair
An Independent Study may be taken for up to six credits. The course is designed by the student in consultation with his or her faculty adviser.

Catalog of Courses in Religious Studies

RELN 111. Introduction to Religion
This course presents recurrent forms and issues in religious life, e.g. myths, rituals, the nature of the divine, good and evil, and introduces students to the academic study of religion. Traditions are covered thematically, with emphasis upon cross-cultural features of religion and pertinent theories.
This course fulfills a General Education requirement in the Humanities.

RELN 112. Survey of World Religions
This introductory course presents the classical expressions of the world's most widespread and historically significant religions. Students will learn about the origins, foundational figures, scriptures, beliefs, and practices of Hinduism, Buddhism, Daoism, Confucianism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.
This course fulfills a General Education requirement in either the Humanities or in International and Intercultural Studies.

RELN 203. Sacred Texts of the West
Through critical reading of selections from the Old Testament, the New Testament, and the Qur’an, students will become familiar with the content of these texts; students will engage in the critical interpretation of these sacred texts; and students will be introduced to the methods and theories that support the academic study of sacred texts and narratives. Not limited in historical context and scope, students will be introduced to the social and historical factors that influenced the development of each canon in its original context as well as examining how religious communities work to ensure the continued relevance of their sacred texts and narratives.
This course fulfills a General Education requirement in the Humanities.

RELN 205. Religion and Culture
This introduction to the social-scientific study of religion examines religion in its cultural context. Topics such as church and state, religion and race, secularization, and religion and economics are covered through historical cases from around the world. Major sociological theories of religion are considered.
This course fulfills a General Education requirement in the Humanities.

RELN 206. Survey of Religious Experiences
This is a cross-cultural and interdisciplinary examination of religious experiences, defined as "reported direct encounters with the supernatural." Students will read accounts from around the world of religious visions and calls, possession, mystical union, and journeys to the afterlife, along with the biographies of shamans, mediums, and mystics. Theories from a variety of academic disciplines will illuminate the human causes and consequences of these extraordinary phenomena.
This course fulfills a General Education requirement in the Humanities.

RELN 305. Religion and Women
Prerequisite: Three hours of religious studies
This course examines the presentation of women in religious texts and history, feminist criticism of religious traditions, and the roles of women (past and present) in selected Western, Eastern, tribal, and neopagan religions.

RELN 310. Exploring the Old Testament
Prerequisite: Three hours of religious studies
This course adopts an an academic, thematic, and chronological approach to various issues pertaining to ancient Israelite religion and culture as presented in the Old Testament. This course surveys the contents of the Old Testament and explores the ways in which a broader comparative approach illuminates and contextualizes the text. In addition, students are introduced to the myriad ways in which the Old Testament continues to impact their lives and the broader culture.

RELN 312. Exploring the New Testament
Prerequisite: Three hours of religious studies
In this course students explore the origins of Christianity through the text of the New Testament. Using the tools of contemporary scholarship (textual analysis, historical analysis, archaeology) students study the development of the canon, understand the historical background of the events described in the New Testament, draw conclusions about the historical Jesus, explore the development of early Christian communities, analyze early theological debates, and analyze other popular Christian texts of late antiquity that were not included in the New Testament, but nevertheless influenced its development.

RELN 320. Jesus and the Gospels
Prerequisite: RELN 312
This course first examines the three Synoptic Gospels as coherent and independent narratives. It then moves from story to history, by using the tools modern scholars have developed to understand Jesus as a historical figure.

RELN 330. History of Christianity
Prerequisite: RELN 310 or 312
This course examines the history of Christianity, understood both as institution(s) and as intellectual tradition. From its origins until today, Christianity has presented itself in various, usually competing, forms. We will strive to understand the intellectual issues at stake in various ages, what it was like to be an average Christian rather than a theologian, and how outsiders (such as Romans or Jews) viewed the Church.

RELN 350. Religion in India
Prerequisite: RELN 112
This course provides students with an opportunity for advanced study in the historical development of religious thought and practice in India. It includes the study of Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Islam, and Sikhism as well as minority religions such as Judaism, Christianity, and the faith of the Parsis.

RELN 360. Religion in China and Japan
Prerequisite: RELN 112
This course provides students with an opportunity for advanced study in the historical development of religious thought and practice in China and Japan. It includes the study of ancestor worship, folk religions, Confucianism, Daoism, Buddhism, Shinto, "New Religious Movements" and communism.

RELN 366. Religion Travel Course
Prerequisite: Permission of the Office of Student Affairs and instructor
This course combines a selected topic in religious studies with an international or domestic travel component providing and opportunity for “on location” study of religion by immersing students in living religious cultures and by exploring archaeological and material remains as well as the geography of sites of religious significance.

RELN 370. American Sects and Cults
Prerequisite: Three hours of religious studies
This course investigates non-conventional religious groups in the United States, from colonial Quakers and Puritans to contemporary Scientology and the Church of Satan. Lectures will survey mainline religious and cultural trends salient to the appearance of sects and cults. Students will evaluate social-scientific theories on topics such as the mental health of leaders and followers, cult-related violence, conversion and defection, the law and deviant religions.

RELN 375. Religion and American Nationalism
Prerequisite: Three hours of religious studies
An examination of the historically powerful public belief that America is a nation “chosen” by God to carry out a divine mission. Through careful reading of letters, sermons, presidential addresses, and popular literature, this course will explore the history, components, and implications of the myth, as well as the myth’s role in shaping America’s political landscape today.

RELN 380. Old Testament Topics
Prerequisites: RELN 310
This course concentrates on one segment, a particular genre, or a specific issue, to advance the student's knowledge and understanding of the Old Testament. Representative topics include law and covenant, narrative analysis of the Old Testament, wisdom literature, and the prophets. This course may be taken up to three times with a different topic each time.

RELN 381. Religion and Death
Prerequisites: Three hours of religious studies
Religion and Death critically examines a significant dimension of religious life. Death, the great unknown, awaits us all. One of the chief functions of religions is to ease the anxiety and pain of being mortal. How and how well is this accomplished? To answer, students will explore supernaturalist treatments of death across cultures and time, e.g., funeral rites, descriptions of hell, ghost beliefs, and Near-Death Experiences.

RELN 420. Topics in Religious Studies
Prerequisite: Three hours of religious studies
This course provides an opportunity for advanced study of a selected topic in religious studies. Examples of topics to be studied may include Zen Buddhism, goddesses, and the letters of Paul. The course may be taken up to three times with a different topic each time.

RELN 488H. Final Honors Project
Prerequisites: Enrollment in the Honors Program, completion of all other Honors Program requirements, a minimum of 3.5 GPA in all courses and in religious studies
Project and topic to be determined by the student, the faculty member with whom the student works, and the department. In order to receive honors credit, a student must earn a grade of "A" or "B" for the final project. Course may not be repeated.

RELN 490. Religious Studies Internship
Prerequisites: 18 hours of Religious Studies; junior or senior standing; minimum 3.0 GPA in major; approval of department chairperson.
Offers an opportunity through experiential learning to apply skills gained through the Religious Studies curriculum in a career-oriented atmosphere. The internship consists of a one or two semester placement with a business, governmental agency, or religious or service organization interested in working with students who have critical thinking skills, research and writing skills, and knowledge of issues addressed in the study of religion. Grading will be on A-F basis. No more than 3 credit hours may be applied toward the requirements for the major.

RELN 498. Independent Study
Prerequisites: Approval of department curriculum committee and department chair
An Independent Study may be taken for up to six credits. The course is designed by the student in consultation with his or her adviser.