Courses

Philosophy and Religious Studies Courses

Code Course Name Description Credits
PHIL 113 Introduction to Philosophy

An introduction to the broad range of thinkers and issues that constitute philosophy. Students will examine critically the accumulated wisdom about God, nature, and humanity in order to evaluate their own life positions and choices and to make ethical decisions in an interdependent world.

3
PHIL 213 Theory of Knowledge

Epistemology, or the theory of knowledge, examines how we come to know what we know. This course covers historical and contemporary approaches to the question of what knowledge is, what makes a belief true, and how beliefs are justified.

3
PHIL 215 Critical Thinking

An introduction to the skills necessary for analyzing, evaluating, and constructing arguments, this course will provide students with the skills necessary for thinking critically about themselves and their world. Topics covered in this course may include, but not be limited to, argument construction, fallacious reasoning, information literacy, decision making, and critical/analytical writing.

3
PHIL 300 Metaphysics

Metaphysics is the study of the general features of existence or reality. This course focuses on the fundamental concepts of being as developed in several major philosophers from the Greeks to the present. Discussion will focus on such topics as God, time, space, substance, essence, existence, process, causality, possibility, necessity, chance, and value.

3
PHIL 302 Greek and Medieval Philosophy

This course examines the origin and development of Western philosophy in ancient Greece, concentrating on the central ideas of the pre-Socratics, the Sophists, Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle, and goes on to show how these ideas influenced philosophers of the Medieval period, from Augustine to Aquinas.

3
PHIL 303 Modern Philosophy

This course examines the history of modern philosophy, particularly from Descartes through Kant. We will concentrate on the development of modern thought, examining the concepts of mind, body, and causation among others.

3
PHIL 304 Symbolic Logic

Logic is the study of arguments. This course will examine the meaning of such logical notions as the validity of arguments, the equivalence of statements, and the inconsistency of sets of statements. We will study the symbolization of the logically relevant features of statements and testing of arguments for validity, sets for inconsistency, etc.

3
PHIL 312 Philosophy of Religion

This course is composed of a philosophical examination of religious topics. Covered material may include attempts to define religion, religious experience, God’s existence and nature, the problem of evil, death, human destiny, religion and life, faith and reason, religion and science, and religious language.

3
PHIL 315 Ethics

An introduction to major schools of ethical theory such as utilitarian ethics, deontological ethics, virtue ethics, and the ethics of care. Specific problems from metaethics and applied ethics may also be treated. Some of the questions that may be examined are these: What are the grounds for moral obligations such as keeping promises or obeying the law? How do we reason about what to do? Can reason determine how we ought to live? What are moral judgments? Is there an ultimate moral principle? What constitutes a morally worthwhile life? Can morality itself be challenged?

3
PHIL 316 Philosophy, Society, and Law

An inquiry into the relationships between law and society, focusing on issues such as pornography, the insanity plea, capital punishment, legal reform, civil disobedience, and paternalism.

3
PHIL 318 Perspectives on the Pursuit of Peace

A philosophical analysis of relevant primary sources in terms of possible personal contributions to a more compassionate, just, and peaceful world.

3
PHIL 324 Bioethics

This course focuses on ethical issues arising in the relationship between healthcare practitioners and their patients. It considers the moral rights or patients and the ethical responsibilities of healthcare practitioners to their patients and the public. Topics may include truth-telling, confidentiality, informed consent and shared decision-making, the right to refuse treatment, euthanasia and assisted suicide, decision making for incompetent patients, advance directives, brain death, and the ethics of abortion.

3
PHIL 325 Philosophy of Art

A critical study of theories on the nature of art, beauty, the aesthetic experience, problems of interpretation, and criticism in the fine arts. In addition, the course may also deal with wider questions about the social function and value of the arts. Topics may include: what is the “aesthetic,” and who is the best judge of it? Is good art beautiful? Should art be viewed dis-interestedly? Does art imitate life or does life imitate art? What is it to get at the meaning of a work of art?

3
PHIL 326 Political Philosophy

This class will engage in an examination of the assumptions underlying the world’s major political systems as well as an examination of various theories of justice. Issues that may be covered include: the source of obligation to obey the state, natural rights, the limits of governmental authority, and the justification of various forms of government. Readings may be drawn from classical and contemporary sources.

3
PHIL 328 Environmental Ethics

An examination of issues in environmental ethics, including the ethical treatment of animals, with attention given to dilemmas and decisions at both the personal and global levels. Readings may be drawn from historically important moral theories as well as from contemporary philosophical writings in the area of environmental ethics. Philosophical questions addressed may include: What things are intrinsically valuable? What are rights? Do entities other than humans have moral standing (for instance, non-human animals, ecosystems, etc.)? What responsibilities do we have to future generations?

PHIL 332 Eastern Philosophy

A survey of Eastern philosophical thought from the metaphysics and naturalism of the ancient Indus River valley through Western Buddhist movements and beyond. Topics covered may include but not be limited to pre-Hindu Indian philosophy, Buddhism, Confucianism, and Daoism.

3
PHIL 334 Ethics, Science, and Biotechnology

This course examines a range of ethical issues pertaining to biomedical research and technology. Topics may include ethical questions surrounding research on human embryos, assisted reproductive technologies (IVF, cloning), the use of genetic technology to prevent diseases and disabilities in offspring or to create children with other desirable traits, the use of animals in medical research, the development of neuro-technologies to treat or improve human beings, and ethical problems in human research, including research on vulnerable populations (e.g. people in developing countries).

3
PHIL 335 Philosophy of Music

A critical examination of philosophical theories concerning the nature and meaning of music. Questions to be addressed may include: What is music? How can music affect emotions? Can music represent the world?

3
PHIL 340 Animal Ethics

This class will be a philosophical examination of our moral obligations to animals. We will explore the ethics of various human practices towards animals, such as animal agriculture, hunting, medical research on animals, zoos, and keeping animals as pets. To address these issues, we will also ask more theoretical questions about the moral status and mental lives of animals. Are animals the sorts of beings that can possess rights? Does animal suffering matter less than human suffering? To what extent are animals conscious? Can animals be harmed by death? We may also consider the moral status of animals from environmentalist and feminist perspectives.

3
PHIL 344 Healthcare and Social Justice

In this course we will examine issues of social justice in healthcare facing policy makers, clinicians, and citizens in contemporary societies. Topics to be studied may include general theories of justice in healthcare, whether there is a basic right to healthcare, ethical principles and procedures for the fair and just allocation of scarce medical resources, and the obligations of justice as they pertain to meeting the healthcare needs of disadvantaged groups, including the poor, racial minorities, women, and people with disabilities.

3
PHIL 345 Race, Class, and Gender

In this course, we will critically examine the distinct and interlocking social identities of race, class, gender, and sexuality, and their effects on social theory and practice. Our analyses will address the nature and structure of oppression, violence, and social equality. In part our goal is to sustain a cooperative learning environment in which we look deeply at the ways in which race, class, gender, and sexuality affect social conceptions of justice and the distribution of rights. In addition, students will be challenged to explore how various theories and practices affect other oppressed social groups.

3
PHIL 350 Philosophy Of Mind

In this course we will examine classic and contemporary theories about the nature of the mind. Questions to be addressed may include: Is mind distinct from matter? Could there be minds without bodies? Are there other minds in the universe? Can a computer be conscious? Is the mind nothing more than an elaborate computer, or is mentality the exclusive possession of biological organisms?

3
PHIL 354 Philosophy of Mental Health

We will discuss the interrelated metaphysical, epistemological, ethical, and social issues that arise in trying to understand and treat mental illness. Specific topics will vary from semester to semester. The metaphysical issues may include the unity of the self and freedom of the will. Epistemological issues may include the diagnosis of mental disorders and knowing when people are competent to understand the moral and legal consequences of their actions. Ethical issues may include the rights of people with mental disorders to get treatment or to refuse it. Finally, social issues may include the medicalization of deviant behavior and the effects of the mental health profession on society. Popular thought about mental illness will be compared with what experts say.

3
PHIL 404 Bioethics

This course examines ethical issues that arise in the practice of medicine and biomedical research. Topics covered may include truth-telling; confidentiality; informed consent; the right to refuse life-sustaining treatment; euthanasia and assisted suicide; the ethics of research on humans and animals; abortion and research on human embryos; the right to health care; organ transplantation; and the ethics of advanced technologies in human genetics and reproduction.

3
PHIL 415 Climate Justice

This class will examine the problem of climate change from a philosophical perspective. As such, we will discuss the issues of uncertainty, distributive justice, rectificatory justice, and intergenerational justice as they arise in the context of climate change.

3
PHIL 427 Business Ethics

Major contemporary moral issues facing the business community analyzed through the use of cases drawn from a variety of business activities.

3
PHIL 431 Global Justice

This course will familiarize students with some of the systematic approaches that moral and political philosophers have developed for addressing some of the difficult and practically urgent questions of international ethics and global justice. Such questions may include the following: Are the high levels of poverty and extreme inequalities that characterize our world ethically defensible? If they are not defensible, then who is obliged to do something about them? Should universal environmental standards bind all countries? If so, then who is responsible for ensuring that all countries can meet them at reasonable cost? Are sovereign states outdated artifacts, or should they remain an important mode of political organization?

3
PHIL 451 Seminar in Philosophy

A select group of students will study a philosopher, a specific philosophical school, question, or problem in depth.

3
PHIL 465 Special Topics in Bioethics

This course will cover special topics in bioethics not available in the current philosophy curriculum when significant interest among students and faculty arises. The focus of the course will vary each time offered.

3
PHIL 470 Capstone Study in Bioethics

The Capstone Study is the final course taken to complete the Bioethics Certificate Program. Working independently with an appropriate philosophy faculty member, the student will write a research paper in bioethics focusing on a topic chosen by the student in consultation with, and with approval by, the faculty member. The capstone can be taken after finishing the other required courses for the certificate, or while taking one’s fourth certificate course.

3
PHIL 499 Independent Study

Students with a 3.00 QPA may be granted permission to do independent study in a philosophical area that is not offered in any departmental course offerings. See Individual Options, Degree Information section.

3
PHIL H478 A,B Honors Thesis

Designed for students writing their honor theses in philosophy or on a topic carrying major philosophical impact.

1.5, 1.5
PHIL H499 Honors Independent Study

Students with a 3.25 QPA, who are active in the Honors Program, may be granted permission to do independent study in a philosophical area that is not offered in any departmental course offerings.

3
RST 112 Modern Belief

An introduction to religious belief in general and Christian belief in particular. Topics explored are religious experience and knowledge, the impact of contemporary society upon belief, personal and communal belief, the developmental nature of belief, doubt, approaches to God, basic Christian beliefs regarding God, Jesus, Church, the Bible, prayer and sacraments, and other religions.

3
RST 201 Introduction to the Bible

Involves readings of selected books of the Bible in the context of their religious, literary, and historical setting, utilizing the tools of modern biblical scholarship, with an eye to ascertaining their meaning for people of today.

3
RST 203 Biblical Themes

A study and discussion of select themes as they appear in the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures. Themes for consideration are revelation, religious history, creation, covenant, Passover, love, and sin.

3
RST 204 Jesus and the Gospels

A critical study of the Gospels, stressing their similarities and differences; authorship, structure and major concerns; and the portrait of the Jewish Jesus of Palestine revealed therein.

3
RST 205 Seminar: Readings in the Theology of Radical Human Existence

A reading and discussion course dealing with fundamental issues of human existence, including the reality of God, faith, suffering, compassion, death, abortion, capital punishment, poverty, aging, sanctity, love, prayer, sin, racism, war, conscience, the will of God, heaven and hell.

3
RST 207 The Parables of Jesus

An historical-critical study of Jesus’ parables, their setting in his ministry and in the theologies of the synoptic writers, with reference to their relevance for believers today.

3
RST 213 Jesus in Contemporary Perspective

A many faceted look at Jesus the Christ under the light of contemporary biblical and theological scholarship. Issues examined include, among others, his divinity, human consciousness, connection with the Essenes, death and resurrection, redemptive work, and place within the Trinity.

3
RST 214 The Church Today

An analysis of the meaning of Church—its biblical beginnings, its new self-understanding in terms of Vatican II, its post-conciliar development. Major issues which both help and hinder community life will be discussed.

3
RST 215 Foundations of Christian Morality

Intended to established the foundations for moral decision-making within a Christian context and emphasize such core concepts as the Commandments, ethical imperative, conscience, law, ethics of Jesus, and social justice.

3
RST 216 Social Morality: National Issues

Involves a critical look at current social conditions in the U.S.A. and their justice implications. Issues such as poverty, the penal system, immigration, homelessness, and urban/rural problems will be addressed.

3
RST 217 Introduction to Eastern Religions

A study of Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism, focusing on the lives of their founders (where applicable), major scriptures, beliefs, duties and ethical ideals, characteristic features, and concepts of salvation and means thereto.

3
RST 218 Contemporary Judaism

Includes an analysis of Judaism’s major theological and ethical concepts, and a survey of its basic religious practices and customs.

3
RST 219 Contemporary Protestantism

An introduction to the theology of some contemporary Protestant theologians; a discussion of Protestant worship, baptism, and ordination; an exploration of selected ethical issues.

3
RST 220 Paths of Belief

An historical investigation into the major beliefs of humankind. The course explores the beginnings of Indian religion, Buddhism, Hinduism, the Biblical sources of monotheism, Judaism, Islam, Jesus and Christian origins, Catholicism, Protestantism, and the modern criticism of religion.

3
RST 221 Christian Marriage

An exploration of marriage as covenant, sacrament, and commitment, including such topics as communication, responsible parenthood, and contemporary challenges to marriage.

3
RST 225 Sacraments in Practice

Focuses on the history and experience of the sacraments of baptism, confirmation, Eucharist, reconciliation, and anointing of the sick, with particular emphasis on postVatican II sacramental theology.

3
RST 226 Christian Spirituality

A study of the meaning of Christian spirituality as the essential way of life for a people called to union with God, self, others, and the earth. Attention will be given to key themes, such as discipleship, solitude, solidarity, and relationships of love and service.

3
RST 230 Political and Liberation Theologies

Explores the theological implications of a world structured with acute divisions of wealth and power around the globe. National and international viewpoints of both privileged and oppressed groups will be considered. The spirituality of hope is also studied.

3
RST 233 Christian Social Morality: A Global Perspective

Designed to help students analyze and propose moral considerations for the construction of a just and peaceful relationship among nations today. Concepts stressed include global village, justice, development, trade aid, economic order, and life styles.

3
RST 234 Women and Religion

An examination of the impact of various religions on women – her self-image, her development, her “place” in secular and religious society. Special attention will be given to how the Judeo-Christian tradition affects the image of women.

3
RST 235 Death and Afterlife - Contemporary Perspectives

An examination of the human quest for immortality as it has emerged in various cultures and in different historical periods. Special emphasis is placed on the Christian mysteries of death and afterlife, and their impact upon present belief and practice.

3
RST 338 National/Local Service Program

The program offers students the opportunity to observe and participate in service to the poor and needy on the national and local levels; preceded and followed by a period of reflection and research.

Requires approval of chairperson.

3
RST 339 International Service Program


spring

The program offers students the opportunity to observe and participate in the culture and Church of a Third World country; preceded and followed by a period of reflection and research.

Requires approval of chairperson.

3
RST 340 Seminar: Religion and Education

Intended to help students formulate, through readings, presentations, and discussions, a theory of and an approach to religious education best fitted to meet the needs of today’s Christian community.

Prerequisites: RST 112 and one 200-level course. Requires approval of chairperson.

3
RST 342 Seminar: Church Ministry

Intended to help students develop an understanding of church ministry and explore select forms of ministry, including those of youth minister, director of religious education and teacher of religion.

Prerequisites: RST 112 and one 200-level course. Requires approval of chairperson.

3
RST 443 Directed Field Experience

Affords students an opportunity to observe, study, and work in a specific area of church ministry during the senior year. May involve local transportation and malpractice insurance for which the student is responsible. 

Prerequisite: RST 340 or RST 342.

3
RST 444 Senior Research

Involves researching a selected topic and producing a paper under the guidance of a faculty director.

Finished work to be discussed with a panel of Religious Studies faculty.

3
RST 499 Independent Study

Involves student initiated, faculty directed study and research in accordance with University and department guidelines.

Requires approval of chairperson.

3
RST H112 Modern Belief

An honors approach to RST 112 Modern Belief: An introduction to religious belief in general and Christian belief in particular. Topics explored are religious experience and knowledge, the impact of contemporary society upon belief, personal and communal belief, the developmental nature of belief, doubt, approaches to God, basic Christian beliefs regarding God, Jesus, Church, the Bible, prayer and sacraments, and other religions.

3
RST H215 Foundations of Christian Morality

An honors approach to RST 215 Foundations of Christian Morality: Intended to established the foundations for moral decision-making within a Christian context and emphasize such core concepts as the Commandments, ethical imperative, conscience, law, ethics of Jesus, and social justice.

3
RST H478 Honors Thesis

For students who are writing their honors theses in the area of religious studies.

Requires approval of the chairperson and Honors Program director.

3
RST H499 Independent Study

For students who are active in the Honors Program. Involves student initiated, faculty directed study and research in accordance with University and department guidelines.

 Requires approval of the chairperson and Honors Program director.

3