This course provides an introduction to the vocabulary, methods, and theoretical assumptions of the academic study of religion. By examining several diverse religious communities and traditions--including Lakota Sioux, Southern Pentecostal, Nation of Islam, and Zen Buddhist--we examine patterns, themes, and issues that scholars commonly encounter across world religions. We also examine how specific communities give voice to themes found within the larger world religion from which they emerge. In each case, particular attention is paid to the role of religion in social justice and salvation movements, and in the formation of individual and group identities.
In addition, this course provides a setting in which to practice and develop critical thinking skills through reading, writing, reflection, and discussion. Students should come away from the course with a greater understanding of critical issues facing religious communities historically and in the world today, with a greater appreciation of the diversity of world religions within the United States, and with a grounding in influential scholarly approaches to the study of religion.
Prerequisites: Students who have REL 202 transfer credit may not take this course.