Philosophy and Religion

FALL 2016 Upper Level Courses

Pictures of upper level courses for Fall 2016

Religious Reform in Modern America


Andrew Coates

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How can religious traditions thrive in a modern scientific society? What role should religion play in fixing America's race problems? What would America look like if it was rebuilt according to God's plans? PAR 353 "Religion and Reform in Modern America" looks at the myriad ways Americans have asked and answered these kinds of questions. In this online class, students will read historical primary sources from 1876-1985 that address key issues in modern American religious history. We will explore how people used religion to try to enact social reform, how they resisted social change on religious grounds, and how they reformed religious traditions when confronted with a rapidly changing society. The course will cover such diverse topics as the Social Gospel Movement, the Civil Rights Movement, Protestant Fundamentalism, Reform Judaism, hippie spirituality, and the Catholic Worker Movement


PAR 362 - TR 12:30- 1:45 PM

Dr. Theodore Burgh

Sticks, stones, pots and bones. Whoever thought they could be so much fun! The Archaeology of Ancient Israel course surveys ancient Israel through the discussion of archaeological digs, artifacts, texts, etc. The class will challenge students to think critically and creatively about the makeup/construction off previous cultures, life-ways, and how the components of the culture connect and relate to one another.


PAR 373 - TR 8:00- 9:15 AM

Dr. Beverly McGuire

This course examines the history, philosophies, practices, and institutions of Chinese Religions through both primary texts and secondary scholarship. Although Chinese Buddhism will be included in our discussion, we will focus mainly on the indigenous religions of China -Confucianism, "popular" traditions, and Daoism. The course will also make extensive use of films, online resources, and images.


PAR 377 - MW 2:00- 3:15 PM

Dr. Nathaniel Samuel Murrell

People say black folks are only "hoot'en " and "howl'en" but "Afro-American religion" is the most diverse religious system in America. It encompasses African religions, slave religions, African American Christianity, African American Islam, vodou in the "Big Easy", Santeria in New York and Florida, and Rastafari. Come check it out.

Philosophy of Drama

PAR 380 - TR 2:00- 3:15 PM

Dr. W. Thomas Schmid

This class will study the philosophy of drama and philosophy in drama as found in four plays: Oedipus the King, the downfall of the mythic hero, whose terrible virtue destroys him; Lysistrada, the happy triumph of peace-loving women over war-crazy men; Hamlet, the great drama of the Western mind; and Waiting for Godot, "Slapsticking your way to nowhere." Additional readings from Plato's Symposium, Aristotle's Poetics, and Crutchley's On Humour. Why do we laugh, why do we cry, why are we mesmerized by thought in art? If the world is a stage, we the actors, might we learn our human story by seeing it played out? Might we need theater, to know ourselves and others?


PAR 410 - W 6:30- 9:15 PM

Dr. Don A. Habibi

Just what are "human rights" and where do they come from? What makes them so important that they have become the moral standard, the secular religion, the realistic utopia, the inspiration for international law, the measure by which nations are judged and for which nations give up their sovereignty, and the last, best hope for humanity? What makes them so problematic that they are criticized as nonsense upon stilts, deceptive hypocrisy, a political weapon or propaganda ploy, or neo-imperialism? This course will explore the global phenomena of the International Human Rights Movement from various perspectives and gain familiarity with the complex range of issues impacting the ever expanding human rights regime.


PAR 495 - TR 3:30- 4:45 PM

Dr. Matthew Eshleman

Jean-Paul Sartre (1905-1980) is arguably the best known philosopher from the twentieth century. This seminar examines Sartre's vintage existential period (that runs from 1933 to 1947), and it aims to prepare students to grapple with Sartre's magnum opus, Being and Nothingness. Given the notorious difficulties of Being and Nothingness, this seminar focuses on some relatively more accessible texts. After a cursory examination of Sartre's popular lecture Existentialism is a Humanism, we turn to The transcendence of the Ego, The Emotions: Outline of a Theory, and The Imagination. Our strategy will be to read Sartre in relationship to contemporary philosophy of mind (with a few forays into other areas) and in a way that phenomenologically addresses a series of classic philosophical questions: 'What is self-awareness?', 'Does introspection give us reliable access to our mental processes?', 'Can we be free in a deterministic universe?', 'Are minds and bodies distinct, and, if so, how do they interrelate?', 'Can we show that God cannot exist?', 'If moral values are constructions, can they be objective?'…


PAR 495 - TR 5:00- 6:15 PM

Dr. Scott James

Someone who asserts that 2+2=5 is mistaken. He's gotten the facts wrong. What about someone who asserts that killing people for fun is OK? We want to say that he, too, is mistaken. But if there are moral facts, what is their nature? Are they a matter of social convention, personal taste, or are they entirely independent of our minds? This course will explore the most fundamental questions that can be asked about moral judgments and the nature of morality itself.

Course Descriptions

Course Descriptions for all Philosophy and Religion courses included in the curriculum can be found in the Academic Catalogue.