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USI Classes that Examine Religion

ANTH 324 Peoples of Asia

An introduction to the diverse cultures of Asia through the reading of ethnography and other relevant anthropological literature.  Emphasis will be placed on such topics as belief systems, ethnic identity, marriage, kinship, and social organization.

ANTH 326 Peoples of Africa

This course is a survey of sub-Saharan Africa that will provide a look at African culture, emphasizing economic, religious, and political aspects, both traditional and modern.

ANTH 241 The Supernatural

Religious belief is a cultural universal – all peoples have some form of belief in the supernatural.  Though there are very few specific beliefs that all religions share, there are a number of common ways in which humans relate to and interact with the supernatural.  This course will examine religion from a worldwide perspective, drawing upon examples from many areas of the globe.

EDUC 221 Diversity and Equity in Education

The purpose of this course is to explore the theory and knowledge base that supports multicultural education and an awareness of diversity within American society. Topics may include the critical study of issues as they relate to race and ethnicity, exceptionality, language and dialect, religion, gender, and age.

GLST 185 Introduction to Africa

This course is designed to introduce students to various aspects of Africa and its people including, but not limited to: geography, history, language, culture, religion, politics, economics,literature, and current events.  An interdisciplinary appoach will be utilized to address the diversity and complexity of the study of Africa and its peoples.

GLST 213 Magic in Arts/Humanities

A survey of world magic, its origins and influence on literature, architecture, art, music, theatre, film, religion, and medicine from antiquity to present.

HIST 306 The Gilded Age and Progressive Era, 1877-1920

An examination of the social, economic, political, religious, and intellectual developments and controversies that helped shape modern America. Special attention is given to issues raised by industrialization, urbanization, immigration, science, and technology. The Labor, Populist, and Progressive movements are studied closely.

HIST 342 The Hellenistic Age, Alexander to the Roman Conquest, 338-31 B.C.

A political, economic, religious, social, and intellectual history of the Hellenistic world from 338 to 31 B.C. The course explores the massive change brought about by Alexander the Great’s unification of the Near East and Greece.

HIST 344 The Roman Empire

This course studies the Roman Revolution under Augustus which transformed the Republic into the Empire, Rome’s assimilation of the heterogeneous peoples of Europe and the Near East, the cultural and religious dimensions of Rome’s Silver Age, and the fall of the Empire in 476 A.D.

HIST 345  Medieval Europe, 500-1300 (3) 
The reconstruction of a new European civilization upon the ruins of the old Roman Empire through the alliance of the Greco-Roman cultural traditions, Christianity, and the vitality of the new Germanic peoples.

HIST 347 The Reformation

The Protestant Reformation and the Catholic response as seen in the context of the political, social, and intellectual history of Europe.

HIST 362 Modern Paris

This course surveys the political, cultural and social history of Paris from the late Middle Ages through contemporary times.  Among the topics to be covered are the roles of the Catholic Church and the French monarchy in the city’s affairs; the growth in population beginning in the seventeenth century; the city’s history of revolutions from 1789 through 1871; and long-term developments in architecture and urban planning.  Among the political and cultural figures to be examined are Etienne Marcel, Henri IV, Louis XVI, Maximilien Robespierre, Victor Hugo, Honoré de Balzac, Louis Michel and Simone de Beauvoir.

HIST 365 Crusades

An intensive study of the holy wars between Western Europe and Islam that took place in the Holy Land and Europe from the late eleventh century to the late fifteenth century. Special emphasis is placed on an analysis of the crusading ideal, the motivations of the crusaders, the changes in crusade ideology, as well as Muslim response to Christian military attacks. Cross-cultural exchanges between Christians, Muslims, and Jews in the territories affected by the crusades also are examined.

HIST 375 The Middle East from the Rise of Islam to 1500

 Exploration of the origins and development of Islam in the context of Middle Eastern history with particular focus given to the social aspects of the Islamic community and its relations with non-members, especially Jews and Christians.

HIST 376 The Middle East since 1500 Examination of the changing relationships between the Islamic World and other peoples, especially Europeans after 1500 and the continuing evolution of Islamic identities.  Includes exploration of the ongoing debate about the role of modernism, Islamic reform, and westernization within the Islamic world and the emergence of pan-Islamic and fundamentalist movements.

HIST 411  Religion in America (3) 
An examination of the impact of religious values and institutions on American history. Special attention is given to the rise, decline, and legacy of mainstream Protestant culture; religious pluralism in the 20th century; the religious origins of social and cultural change; the continuing importance of civil religion; and the implications of the First Amendment for religious expression in America.

PHIL 251 Introduction to the Study of Religions

An introductory survey course designed to expose students to the scholarly methods, disciplines, and topics involved in the academic study of religions.

PHIL 413  Philosophy of Religion (3) 
Basic problems and philosophically significant theories of religion, including such problems as the relation of faith and reason, and the existence of God.

POLS 406  Constitutional Rights (3) 
Analysis and discussion of leading decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court, with special attention given to civil rights, including the rights of persons accused of crime; freedom of speech, press, assembly, religion, separation of church and state, equal protection of the laws, and property rights.


NEW PROGRAM (starting Fall 2021)

18 credits (6 courses)

The main goal of the Religious Studies minor is to understand, compare, and analyze religious beliefs, institutions, and practices.  Specific outcomes include (1) Critical thinking about how religion can influence social policy and law, (2) Comparing world religions and their religious texts, (3) Identifying similarities and differences among world religions, (4) Understanding philosophical and ethical problems of various religious world views.  This is an interdisciplinary program which brings together courses and faculty from many departments, such as Philosophy, Political Science, History, Economics, English, and Art.

 Cultures around the world have long been fascinated by questions central to the study of religion.  Students will learn to develop open-mindedness regarding varied religious perspectives, to think independently about religion, and to recognize the ways that religious concepts and practices apply to everyday life.  Religious studies courses do not encourage or discourage religious belief, but rather employ a variety of methods including historical, philosophical, psychological, and political approaches.  Awareness of religious diversity is an asset in today’s increasingly global business world.  Religion is also an important part of many people’s personal lives and is often at the center of debate on various public policy issues.  Knowledge of World Religions is central to being an informed citizen and educated person.  A Religious Studies minor can act as a springboard to a graduate degree, such as an M.A. in Divinity.  The minor can also enhance career opportunities in such USI major areas as history, journalism, philosophy, political science/law, psychology, social work, world languages, anthropology, and sociology. 

Courses include Introduction to the Study of Religions, Philosophy of Religion, Religion and Politics, Philosophy and Religions of Asia, Cognitive Science of Religion, World Mythology, Medieval Art, Women in Islam, The Middle East, and Power, Evil, and Religion.

Contact Person: Dr. Chad Gonnerman, Department of Political Science, Public Administration and Philosophy, LA 3053, (812) 461-5206.  E-mail: