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Course Offerings

I The first level: Introduction

1006. Introduction to Religious Studies
A thematic, issues-oriented introduction to the study of religions. While each section of the
course is different because it is taught by a different professor, the issues and themes are common to all. Some of the themes and issues encountered are prejudice, sexuality, death and after death, the long search, evil and suffering, music and religion. The data to illustrate these themes and issues are drawn from the religious traditions of the world. Fundamental to the course, methodology is the identification of focal questions. The intention of the course is to foster in students an active appreciation of the religious dimension of life and to share with them the tools to think critically about it. 6 credit hours.

II The second level: The Tools

Students of religions engage in the analysis of two main categories of expressions of religious experience: sacred texts or narratives and sacred performances or rituals. The intent of these courses is to investigate selected texts and rituals in order that students might become familiar with the disciplinary conversation swirling about these two general categories. In order to underscore the importance of the Christian, and especially the Roman Catholic traditions at St. Thomas, one of these two courses will each year be focused on Christianity. In order to underscore the importance of the multicultural character of the study of religions, one of these courses will each year be focused on a range of religious traditions (not, of course, excluding Christianity).

2313. Introduction to the Hebrew Bible
This course will provide an introduction to the study of the Hebrew Bible, commonly referred to by Christians as the Old Testament. A first chapter will provide an overview of the history of Israel from the early centuries of the second millennium B.C. to the end of the first century A.D. A second chapter will look at the various canonical collections of scriptural books accepted by the Samaritans, the Palestinian Jews, the Jews of the Diaspora and Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant Christians. 3 credit hours.

2333. Introduction to the New Testament
This course will investigate the history of the growth of the New Testament Canon of twenty-seven books and then study two major categories of New Testament books: the Gospels and
the Pauline Corpus. Several special questions including the Synoptic Question, the relationship between John and the Synoptics and the authenticity of the Pauline Corpus will be briefly introduced. 3 credit hours.

2353. Introduction to the Qur'an
This course will look at the centrality of the Qur'an as the impetus in the evolution of historical criticism, grammar, rational theology, and exegesis in Muslim civilization. It will further explore the impact of the recited text and written word in architecture and music. 3 credit hours.

2413. Introductory Ritual Studies I
An inquiry into some of the issues in the study of rituals by means of a close investigation of selected religious rites and more secular examples of ritualizing. Examples might include Hindu pilgrimage, Christian liturgy in its many forms, Shinto festivals, rites of passage from childhood to adulthood (Bar Mitzvah in Judaism, sacred thread ceremony in Hinduism, the Isanaklesh Gotal of Apache girls), Taoist death rites, and contemporary behaviour at sporting events and music concerts. 3 credit hours.

2423. Introductory Ritual Studies II
A continuation of the inquiry begun in Introductory Ritual Studies I. 3 credit hours.

III The third level: The Streams
The Religious Studies Department offers courses in five streams: 1. Themes and Issues, 2.
Roman Catholic Traditions, 3. World's Religions, 4. Ethics, and 5. Western Christian Traditions. This organization is intended to help students make their course selections and plan their programme of study. Students may select courses from any stream. Majors are required to select at least 21 credit hours, again from any stream. The courses with prerequisites are so designated. The courses in the Themes and Issues stream are generally most accessible to non-majors.

1st Themes and Issues

2133. Religion and Ecology
Many religious traditions display a variety of stances towards the environmental crisis, ranging from indifference to reform. Through critical and comparative study, this course explores religious approaches to ecology in a variety of traditions. Topics may include environmental management, deep ecology, ecoliberation, ecofeminism and cosmology. 3 credit hours.

2163. Contemporary Perspectives on Science and Religion (STS)
This course examines the recent debates over the relation between science and religion. The last five years of the 20th Century have seen a resurgence of interest in this relation. This has been sparked by developments in the sciences, particularly in physics and genetics, as well as by a newly-emerging understanding of what science is. The central questions include whether science and religion are compatible and whether recent developments in the sciences give new answers to religious and theological questions. Readings will represent all sides of these debates. 3 credit hours.

2173. Religion, Conflict and Peacebuilding

Throughout the world, most religious traditions are involved both in legitimating violence and
in building peace. This course critically and comparatively explores the roles of religious leaders, symbols, discourses and actions in conflict-prone settings. Topics may be related to identity-based conflict, genocide, post-conflict reform and reconciliation. 3 credit hours.

2183. Religion and Politics (POLS 2323)

Religious traditions and actors mobilize and in turn are mobilized by political movements at
international, national, and community-based levels. Within a multi religious and comparative framework, this course explores the way in which religious and political identities, actors and systems interact on issues related, for instance, to religiously-based political parties, democratization movements, nationalism, fundamentalism and the politics of resistance. 3 credit hours.

2193. New Religious Movements: "Cults" in the New Age
New religious movements often challenge the values and vision of mainstream religious traditions. This course is a collaborative inquiry into the historical and cultural contexts, self-understanding and practices of such new religious movements as the Church of Scientology, the Branch Davidians, the International Society for Krisha Consciousness, Euro-"Indians", and the Vineyard Renewal. 3 credit hours.

2203. Health, Healing, and Religions

In many cultures, healers are religious specialists who understand illness and health as
processes closely related to spiritual and ethical matters. This course is a collaborative inquiry into health, sickness, and healing as religious activity in a range of communities. Examples of loci of those communities are Hindu North Indian, Kalahari Kung, Navaho, Palestinean of the first fifty years of the common era, and mainstream North American. 3 credit hours.

2213. Religion and Self-Discovery
The religious experience of humans is often expressed as a symbolic journey of growth and
self-discovery. This reading course will explore the themes of quest, path, goal, and union as expressed in classical and modern literature. 3 credit hours.

2223. Psychology of Religion

The examination of religious experience drawing from the classic approaches to psychology
such as William James, Sigmund Freud, and Carl Jung, and their contemporary interpreters. 3 credit hours.

2233. Women and Religion (GEND)
The course aims to study how i) women in history and in modern times respond to socio-cultural restrictions and their attempts to create spiritual and social alternatives, ii) how notions of asceticism and sexuality are utilized as liberating and prescriptive modes. It will examine feminist critiques to classical, medieval, and current texts and thinkers. We will closely look at the assumptions that guide both classical texts and modern critiques. 3 credit hours.

2253. Modern Trends in the Muslim World

The 18-19th centuries were a period of the distintegration of Muslim Empires of the Ottomans and Moghuls and the concurrent expansion of Colonial powers and global industrialization. This encounter led to three responses amongst Muslim intellectuals: a return to traditionalism; a reinterpretation of Islam, combining tradition and modernization; and secular responses that separated religion and state, often reflecting emergent political ideologies of nationalism and socialism. This course will look at two examples of the current impact of these reform movements in countries such as Iran, Libya, Algeria, Turkey, Syria, India, Pakistan, and Egypt. 3 credit hours.

2263. Human Growth – Christian Spiritual Development

All world religions offer a spirituality to their followers. This course will use categories developed by modern psychology (Erickson, Kohlberg, Fowler, Jung, Keen, and Keegan) to understand the stages in the spiritual life tradition in Christianity. It will then attempt to develop an appreciation of the various "schools" as well as modern holistic spirituality. 3 credit hours.

2273. Death and Dying (GERO)

This course explores a wide range of topics in the area of death and dying. As a fundamental issue for human beings, these phenomena require investigation from a variety of perspectives. The course considers aspects of death and dying that are religious, philosophical, psychological, and sociological in nature. Further, the course is concerned with both practical and theoretical issues that arise from the relationship between aging, and death and dying. 3 credit hours.

2283. Religion and Art (FNAR)

Focusing primarily on the Western religious traditions, this course will examine the art and
architecture of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam in historical context. Themes to be studied may include: the image of the Divine, iconoclasm, shrines and pilgrimages, patronage, the appropriation of sacred space, sacred music, performance art, and food. 3 credit hours.

2293. Religion and Sexuality

An examination of the understanding of the nature of human sexuality with specific reference to religious and theological frameworks. Issues studied may include sexuality as foundational in personal dignity and integrity, marriage, relationality, communication, the commodification of sexuality, systematic abuses and neglect of sexuality. 3 credit hours.

2nd Roman Catholic Traditions

2613. Basic Issues in Theology
An introduction to the basic precepts, methods, and resources of theology. An examination of challenges to theology will provide an understanding of the present state of theological concerns. 3 credit hours.

3033. Saints and Heretics: The Historical Development of the Church
A selective study of the significant events and influences on the Christian Church from its origins until the early modern period. The role of scripture, theology, institutional developments, and social and political movements which influence the development of the Church's own understanding of its nature and function will be examined. 3 credit hours.

3043. The Contemporary Church
A study of the factors leading to, and continuing to influence, the decrees of the Second Vatican Council which inform the Roman Catholic Church in its present state. Selected issues which display the range of opinions and discussion concerning contemporary Catholicism will be examined. 3 credit hours.

3323. The Book of Isaiah
Description under Western Christian Traditions.

3343. The Gospel of John
Description under Western Christian Traditions

3353. Christian Liturgy and Sacramental Life
All world religions strive to sustain and intensify the lives of their followers through rituals
which put them in contact with the purifying and nourishing power of the sacred. The Christian religion does this primarily in the rituals of Baptism and Eucharist. This course will attempt to examine this ritual process in terms of an evolutionary understanding of reality. 3 credit hours.

3363. Jesus of Nazareth – Christ of Faith

Biblical commentators of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries focused their attention on
what can be historically verified about Jesus in the New Testament, and contrasted this understanding of Jesus with that of the first-century Church's faith in Jesus. This course will give particular attention to distinguishing between the Historical Jesus and the Christ of Faith as expressed in the New Testament. It will also address the development of the New Testament itself. 3 credit hours.

3373. Jesus the Christ as Understood Throughout History

After reviewing the interpretations of Jesus Christ in the councils of the early Church and in the works of the reformers of the sixteenth century, the course will focus on the Christian interpretations of Jesus as found in the contemporary authors such as Rahner, Schillebeeckx, MacQuarrie, and Pannenberg. 3 credit hours.

3393. Theological Synthesis
The study of the contributions of the different aspects of theology to a comprehensive understanding of human experience. Practical implications examined include religious pluralism and theological discourse with other scholarly disciplines. A background in theology is strongly suggested as prerequisite for this class. 3 credit hours.

3rd World’s Religions

3063. Judaism
The course will explore the varied expressions of the Jewish people, including the role of the
Torah, medieval Jewish philosophy and kabbalah, and the piety of early Hasidism. We will conclude with a look at the current denominations of Jews in North America. 3 credit hours.

3073. Islam I
A survey of the history of the Muslims from Arabia to Central Asia, and from Africa to North
America. The course will look at the Qur'an and the life of Muhammad, the belief system of
Muslims, the literature and philosophy of Muslim civilization, and images of Islam in the media. 3 credit hours.

3083. Islam II
The course will focus on a particular facet of Islamic thought such as philosophy, literature, art and architecture, or sufism. 3 credit hours.

3433. Religious Traditions of China and Japan

We shall investigate what scholars are saying about the religious traditions of China and Japan: Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, Shinto, and the "popular" religions. 3 credit hours.

3453. Religious Traditions of India I

An inquiry into the religious traditions of India, including Hinduism in its many varieties, early Buddhism, and Jainism. 3 credit hours.

3463. Religious Traditions of India II
A continuation of the inquiry begun in The Religious Traditions of India I. The investigation in this course will include Islam, Sikhism, and Hinduism. 3 credit hours.

3473. Native American Religions (NATI)

An inquiry into the issues in the study of Native American religions, and the results of that
study. The focus will be on some of the diverse religions of First Nations people in what is now Canada and the United States. 3 credit hours.

3483. Miigmag and Maliseet Religions (NATI)

An inquiry into aspects of the religious traditions of Miigmag (Nova Scotia: Mi'kmaq) and
Maliseet people, and the issues arising from the study of those traditions. 3 credit hours.

4th Ethics

2293. Religion and Sexuality
An examination of the understanding of the nature of human sexuality with specific reference to religious and theological frameworks. Issues studied may include sexuality as foundational in personal dignity and integrity, marriage, relationality, communication, the commodification of sexuality, systematic abuses, and neglect of sexuality. 3 credit hours.

2513. Foundations of Christian Ethics

An examination of the theoretical base and the significance of Christian ethics with an analysis of some of its central aspects such as the foundational role of love, critical thought and engagement,
conscience and responsibility, and understanding contemporary dilemmas. 3 credit hours.

3513. Bioethics (CRIM)
This course considers developments in medicine (human and veterinary) and biology that are raising religious and ethical issues of importance to the human community. The course will show what problems already exist and are likely to exist in the near future, as well as approaches that might be useful with respect to their solutions. Topics will include new technologies in human reproduction, control of the genes and recombinant DNA in life forms, the meaning of personhood in relation to abortion and euthanasia, behaviour control, genetic counselling, the need for legal restraints, and responsibility for formulating laws and regulations. Method will include lectures, group discussions, seminars, essays, and reading recent literature on the subject. This course requires students to have a previous course in ethics or critical theory. 3 credit hours.

3523. Environmental Ethics
This course considers uses and abuses of the environment that are raising religious and ethical issues of importance to its integrity. Subjects to be covered include concepts and assumptions about the environment, the rights of nature, anthropocentrism and biocentrism as bases of conflicting values about nature and environment, developing an ethic of respect regarding the environment, and reflection upon the formulation of policy, laws, and regulations. 3 credit hours.

3553. Islamic Ethics and Spirituality
This course will look at the various forms of Islamic spirituality, as expressed by individuals and organized orders. It will explore the symbolic path of the mystic and how it coalesced with popular piety and sainthood. It will also look at the ethical systems of rational mystics who combined theology, philosophy, and mysticism. 3 credit hours.

3573. Religion and Social Ethics

The study of the relationships which shape the nature of human interaction informed by or oriented towards values and specific goals. The role of religious beliefs and communities in analyzing and responding to economic, social, and political problems will be examined. 3 credit hours.

3583. Media and Ethics (CRIM)

A critical and foundational examination of the role and function of media in Western society, focussing on its formative influence on religion and culture. Issues may include the business of news, entertainment, the nature of advertising, and religion and media. This course requires students to have a background in ethics and/or critical theory. 3 credit hours.

3593. Moral Development
An examination of the processes and elements through which persons develop a critical perspective and appreciation of the role of value in their lives and in the social order. This course requires students to have completed previous work in ethics. 3 credit hours.

5th Western Christian Traditions

3113. Issues in Christian Diversity I
The study of the historical, political, and theological factors which resulted in the Reformation movement in the Christian Church. Individual figures, new denominations, and the social and cultural developments which follow the Reformation will be examined. 3 credit hours.

3123. Issues in Christian Diversity II

A study of the religious and political tensions which have characterized the Christian Church, and the attempts made to overcome these divisions. Specific focuses will include the ecumenical movement, the establishment of the World Council of Churches, and the Second Vatican Council. 3 credit hours.

3133. From Hope to Solidarity: Liberation Theologies in the Americas

Grounded in the politics of solidarity, liberation theologies represent a new paradigm of experiencing, building and analyzing community in the Americas and elsewhere. This course explores the development of liberation theologies, with possible reference to Latin American, feminist, postcolonial (black and well as indigenous), gay/lesbian and Canadian voices, among others. 3 credit hours

3323. The Book of Isaiah
This course will study the book of Isaiah as an example of prophetic literature. It will treat such questions as the authorship, dating, unity, background, and theology of the book. Particular passages will be singled out for more detailed study. 3 credit hours.

3343. The Gospel of John
This course will study the gospel of John as one of the four canonical gospels. It will treat such questions as authorship, dating, background, sources, and theology of the gospel. Particular passages will be singled out for more detailed study. 3 credit hours.

3623. The God of Christians
A theological reflection on a central Christian mystery, the Trinity. An attempt to understand the meaning of belief in one God in three Persons by considering scriptural, conciliar, and theological sources. 3 credit hours.

3643. Christianity and Contemporary Society
An examination of the status of Christian religious communities and religious beliefs in contemporary society. Issues to be examined may include religious movements and politics, religion and public education, religion and codes of public morality, religion and pluralism. 3 credit hours.

3653. Christianity and Feminism in Conversation

How do women name the divine? Can a male saviour save women? What is the Christian understanding of humanity? How do women experience sin and grace in their lives? Is the bible really Good News for women? What do feminist spiritualities look like and what aspects of the human do they celebrate? These questions are at the heart of traditional Christian teaching: the doctrine of God, Christology, anthropology, ethics, ecclesiology, biblical interpretation, and spirituality. They have inspired lively conversations among contemporary Christian theologians and laity throughout the world, and have contributed towards the growth of a substantial body of literature. By addressing the above questions and studying related texts, this course will consider the impact of feminist consciousness on the development of Christian theology. 3 credit hours.

IV. The fourth level: Integration

3993. Religious Studies: Scope and Methods
An in-depth analysis of selected issues in Religious Studies, focusing on the distinctive concerns of the discipline and the furthering of research skills appropriate to it. The course fosters reflection on the variety of methods used in Religious Studies, mindful of the need of senior students to integrate their four years of learnings in the discipline. Enrolment limited to students in fourth year. 3 credit hours.

4003. Honours Thesis Research and Proposal

Designed for students who are considering advanced study, this course will consider a variety of research strategies in the field of Religious Studies. The final project will be an Honours thesis proposal. Normally taken in the second semester of a student's next to final year, this course is required for continuation into the Honours Programme. 3 credit hours.

4013. Honours Workshop
By focussing on methodological problems specific to the students' areas of focus, this course will serve to complement the thesis process and aid reflection on disciplinary and interdisciplinary questions. 3 credit hours.

4026. Honours Thesis
The student will select an advisor from the Department members by the end of the first semester in their 3rd year. The student, in consultation with their advisor, will submit a thesis proposal which must be approved by the Department by the end of the student's third year of studies. The thesis is written in the fourth year of studies. 6 credit hours.

4163-73. Independent Study

A course of independent study under the supervision of the Religious Studies Department.
Students will normally collaborate on a description of the study project with the staff member
or members who will guide the independent study. This description must be approved by the
Department Chair and submitted to the registrar for his records. 3 or 6 credit hours.

4183-93. Special Topics
The content of this course changes from year to year reflecting the strengths of the faculty and the particular needs of the students. It will involve an advanced treatment of some aspect of the religious dimension of human experience. 3 or 6 credit hours.

4203. Special Topics in Roman Catholic Theology

The content of this course changes from year to year reflecting the strengths of the scholar
occupying the Pope John XXIII Chair of Studies in Catholic Theology. 3 or 6 credit hours.

Cross-Listed Courses

Western Christian Traditions

3213. The Early Church (HIST)

This course deals with the beginnings and early development of the Christian Church up to the end of the sixth century and the time of Gregory the Great. During this period, we will examine such things as the early spreading of the Church to the West, the relations between the Church and the Roman Empire, and then the relations with the Germanic Kingdoms. An effort will be made to point out the impact that these different cultures had on the developing Church. We will also examine the emergence of institutions such as the papacy and monasticism. In the course of this semester, there will also be a brief look at doctrinal and liturgical developments in the Early Church. 3 credit hours.

3223. The Medieval Church (HIST)

This course deals with the history of the Church from the time of Gregory the Great in the sixth century to the end of the fifteenth century. For the most part, we will deal with the Western Church, although there will be some treatment of the relations that existed with the East. The theme that will run throughout the course is that of the interaction between the Church and the society of this period. Among the topics that will be covered are: the Merovingian and Carolingian Church and the role of such leaders as Charlemagne; the Gregorian Reform Movement and the clash with the Emperor; the development and contribution of monasticism to medieval society; the emergence of the pilgrimage and the crusade; the religious unrest of the later Middle Ages; and the growth of the medieval papacy. 3 credit hours.

3413. God in Western Thought
A survey, through lectures, readings, and discussion, of Western philosophical speculation
regarding the divine. Themes: theism and atheism in classical antiquity; demonstrations of
God's existence in medieval philosophy; the effect on religious belief of empiricism, idealism, Marxism, and existentialism. Prerequisite: PHIL 1013 and 1023, or permission of the instructor. 3 credit hours.

3813. Religion and the Church in Canada to 1763

A history of the Christian church in Canada during the French regime. The course will deal with the role of religion in the early exploration and settlement of Canada. Among the topics discussed will be: the role of missionaries in New France and Acadia, their encounter with the aboriginal peoples of the area, and their relations with settlers, merchants, and fur traders; the relationship between the church and the royal government in New France; and the establishment of ecclesiastical institutions during the period and the role they played in the society of New France. 3 credit hours.

3823. Religion and the Church in Canada, 1763-1867

A history of the Christian church in British North America. The course will deal with the development of the church as well as its impact on society in British North America. Topics dealt with: the impact of the British rule on the Roman Catholic Church after the conquest; the emergence and growth of some of the principal religious denominations; the institutional development of the church; and relations among the various Christian churches, including relevant issues like the clergy reserves, education, and the question of the established church. 3 credit hours.

3833. Human Rights and the Church (HMRT 3053)

This course will focus on the role of the People of God in the practice of human rights. The
rights of all in the Church will be examined in the light of Ecclesiastical Law. The action of the Church in the protection and promotion of human rights will be explored in terms of the Church as community for witness, hope, and liberation. Selected human rights initiatives of Church organizations will be considered. 3 credit hours.

3423. Reason and Religion
A survey of issues and authors, both classical and contemporary, in the philosophy of religion. Consideration will be given to the following: defining religion, religious experience and faith, the problem of evil, the meaning of religious language, the question of life beyond death. Prerequisite: PHIL 1013 and 1023, or permission of the instructor. 3 credit hours.

3543. Existential Philosophy
A study of existential thinking, its fundamental structure, and its importance for a contemporary understanding of the human situation. Prerequisite: PHIL 1013 and 1023 , or persmission of the instructor. 3 credit hours.

NOTE: Not all courses listed are offered each year. Please consult with the Department Chair for more information about current and planned course offerings.

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