Religious and Ethical Studies Program

Contact Information:

Shannon Grimes
216 Joyner
Phone: (919) 760-8749
.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)


Department Courses

RES-102 - World Religions
An exploration of major eastern and western religious traditions including, but not limited to, Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. In addition to looking at the historical development of such traditions, this course addresses issues concerning current religious practice and the role of major religious traditions in contemporary society.


RES-103 - Biblical Literature and History
A study of the canonical literature of the Jewish and Christian traditions. This course will explore how this diverse body of literature relates to its social and historical contexts. The focus will be on acquiring tools from a variety of academic approaches to reading the Bible. This course will enable students to understand how interpretive choices have been made in the reading of biblical texts and to reflect on how diverse ways of interpreting the Bible have shaped culture and continue to do so.


RES-104 - Religious Ethics and Social Issues
This is an introductory course in ethical reflection which explores contemporary social issues from a variety of religious and philosophical traditions. Issues covered pertain to personal concerns such as sexuality, marriage, and reproduction, as well as broader societal issues regarding our economic lives and the environment.


RES-200 - Introductory Topics in Religious and Ethical Studies
An introductory study of selected topics within the area of religious studies as determined by faculty expertise and student interest. Topics may take a thematic, historical or comparative approach within the following areas: religion and culture, religion and society, religious ethics, religious thought and sacred texts. The course may be repeated for credit. Prerequisite: one 100-level RES course, or by permission of the instructor.


RES-201 - Philosophy and the meaning of Life
An Examination of issues common to human experience, such as the nature of reality and the self; theories of knowledge and values; and concepts of fate, free will and justice.


RES-220 - Ethics of Love and Justice
This course is an introduction to the historical development of ethical thought in the western philosophical and religious traditions. It is organized around the central themes of love and justice as addressed by major thinkers from the ancient past to the present. Students will explore various interpretations of the nature and demands of justice in conversation with the different roles that love and emotion are seen to play in shaping ethical commitments and practices.


RES-221 - Comparative Religious Ethics
The course focuses on methodological issues associated with comparison in the academic study of religion and theological approaches. The role of comparison in interfaith dialogue will be emphasized throughout the course. Examples from a variety of religious traditions about relevant social issues will be used to reiterate methodological concerns and to expand student knowledge of the variety of approaches to moral and ethical decision making in different religious traditions.


RES-250 - Religion and Film
This course looks at the importance of religious thought in world cinema. It will consider a wide variety of films - from independent to mainstream Hollywood blockbusters - and will provide students with background knowledge of the religious tradition relevant to each film. After introductory readings on film theory, students will critically assess the form and content of films selected from different world cultures. Prerequisite: one 100-level RES course or by permission of the instructor.


RES-253 - Judaism, Christianity, and Islam: A Conversation
Judaism, Christianity and Islam trace their roots to one biblical ancestor: Abraham. This course delves into a comparative study of the beliefs, practices, and social concerns of the Abrahamic religions and examines constructive methods of interfaith dialogue. Prerequisites: One 100-level RES course, or by permission of the instructor.


RES-254 - Introduction to Asian Religions
This course introduces the major religions of India, China, and Japan, including (but not limited to) Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, and Taoism. Students will develop a cross-cultural understanding of religion by engaging in a comparative study of beliefs, practices, and sacred texts of these Asian traditions. Prerequisite: One 100-level RES course, or by permission of the instructor.


RES-267 - Christian Origins: From Cult to Empire
A study of the development and diversity of early Christian life and thought as reflected in literature spanning from the New Testament letters of Paul to the writings of St. Augustine in the fifth century. Topics will include the spread of Christianity and the formation of the early church; persecution and martyrdom; heresy and orthodoxy; women's roles; social issues; asceticism and sainthood. Prerequisite: One 100-level RES course, or by permission of the instructor.


RES-268 - Women and the Bible
A study of the status of women in the Old and New Testament cultures, the understandings of women in biblical theology, and the role of women in the events of biblical history. Prerequisite: One 100-level RES course, or by permission of the instructor.


RES-280 - Religious and Ethical Studies Internship
This course consists of an internship in fields related to religious or ethical studies or both. The student will evaluate the experience under the guidance of an RES faculty member. An internship proposal form completed by the student and faculty mentor is required for registration. Pass/Fail only.


RES-283 - Women, Religion & Ethnography
This course explores women’s attitudes, beliefs, and practices within their religious heritages through written descriptive studies based almost entirely on Fieldwork research. Ritual, leadership roles and religious experiences of women across a wide range of cultures will be examined.


RES-284 - Sin, Satan, and Evil
A study of beliefs, images, and stories about sin and evil in the religious traditions of Judaism and Christianity, focusing around the figure of Satan and patterns of belief and disbelief in Western religious history. Prerequisite: One 100-level RES course, or by permission of the instructor.


RES-285 - Religion and Literature
This course investigates the presence of religious concepts and themes in a variety of literary forms, as well as the presence of literary themes and devices in religious works. Course readings will draw from different time periods and cultures and include myth, history, parable, short stories, essays, oral narratives, poems, and novels. This course meets the general education literature requirement. Prerequisite: One 100-level RES course.


RES-299 - Introduction to Research in Religious and Ethical Studies
In conjunction with a faculty mentor, the student will participate in a research project that will culminate in a paper and, if appropriate, a presentation. A research proposal form completed by the student and faculty mentor is required for registration. Prerequisite: One 100-level RES course.


RES-306 - Religion and Pop Culture
This course explores the intersection of religion and pop culture, focusing on religion in pop culture and pop culture as religion. The relationship between religion and culture is explored through a variety of theoretical lenses with examples being drawn from American pop culture (TV, music, internet, and film). Students will be challenged to read popular culture “texts” through a critical lens that takes into account issues such as ideology, Americanization, and racial, gendered, and sexual identities.


RES-344 - Biomedical Ethics
This course explores the ethical implications of technological and economic developments in the areas of health care and medical research relevant to both the general public and health care professionals and researchers. Specific issues covered include professional ethics, reproductive technologies, genetic testing and engineering, organ transplants, biomedical research and health care allocation and access. Prerequisite: One 100-level RES course, or by permission of the instructor.


RES-345 - Environmental Ethics
This course explores ethical issues that arise in connection to the environment including: biodiversity; wilderness preservation; pollution; population; private property and common resources; intergenerational justice; environmental public policy; and corporate responsibility. Students will be introduced to the historical traditions of thought with respect to the environment, new and emerging forms of environmental ethics and the practical application of ethical theories and principles to current environmental concerns. Particular attention will be given to the ethical challenges of weighing competing interests and claims of individuals, social groups and institutions, future generations and the broader biotic community. Prerequisite: One 100-level RES course, or by permission of the instructor.


RES-346 - Anthropology of Religion
This course focuses on the ways in which religion and human culture intersect. We will look at such themes as myth, symbol, magic and ritual and see how they contribute to the formation of human societies. Students will engage in a local field research project to learn how anthropologists study religion. Prerequisite: One 100- level RES course, or by permission of instructor. Also offered as SOC-346.


RES-351 - Jesus and the Gospels
This course examines the varied and multiple ways that Jesus is portrayed in the New Testament gospels and other Christian gospels. The modern quest for the historical Jesus is a focal point of this course, and students will examine a variety of historical, literary and theological problems posed by the gospel texts and the quest. This course meets the general education literature requirement. Prerequisite: one 100-level RES course, or by permission of the instructor.


RES-352 - History of Christian Thought and Ethics
This course examines both historical development and contemporary themes in Christian thought and ethics. How have Christian beliefs about God, humanity, love, and justice influenced moral teaching on significant social issues including economic interests, race, gender and ecology? What are the ethics of individual human action, and what is the role of the church? Prerequisite: One 100-level RES course, or by permission of the instructor.


RES-379 - Religions in the Americas
This course will investigate the interconnections among religion, economics and politics in the Americas during four significant historical moments: Conquest, Slavery, Independence/ Industrialization, and the crises of the mid 20th Century.


RES-385 - Europe in the Middle Ages
This course will survey major developments in western Europe from roughly 400 CE to 1300 CE. It will use primary and secondary sources to explore the growth of a distinctly European civilization upon its Judaeo-Christian, classical and Germanic roots, and will trace the expression of this civilization through its political, religious and educational institutions; its former religious thought and vernacular literature; its art, architecture and music; and its interactions with different cultures both within and beyond its borders. Specific topics covered will include the Germanic invasions, monasticism, the conversion of Europe, the growth of the manorial and feudal systems, scholastic thought in the universities, heresy and the crusades, the growth of representative government and others. Also offered as HIS-385.


RES-387 - Age of Renaissance/Reformation
This course will work primarily through class discussion of primary sources to understand the changes in outlook expressed in the Renaissance, the Reformation and the Scientific Revolution between the fourteenth and seventeenth centuries. In particular, it will focus upon the transition from medieval toward modern attitudes in areas such as historical and scientific thought, political and educational theory, philosophy, art, music and religious thought and practice. It will also address the economic, social and political variables that underlay these changes in intellectual life, as well as the impact that these ideas had upon European society. Students will be encouraged to explore individual interests from their own major fields and personal backgrounds. Also offered as HIS-387.


RES-400 - Selected Topics in Religious and Ethical Studies
A study of selected topics within the area of religious studies as determined by faculty expertise and student interest. Topics may take a thematic, historical or comparative approach within the following areas: religion and culture, religion and society, religious ethics, religious thought and sacred texts. The course may be repeated for credit. Prerequisite: One 100-level RES course, or by permission of the instructor.


RES-480 - Senior Internship
This capstone course consists of an internship in fields related to religious or ethical studies or both. Under the guidance of an RES faculty member, the student will apply theories and methods from these disciplines to actual work in the field, evaluate her experience, and give a formal presentation. An internship proposal form completed by the student and faculty mentor is required for registration.Open to Junior and Senior RES majors. Pass/Fail only.


RES-498 - Honors Thesis in Religion
In conjunction with a faculty mentor, the student will formulate and conduct a research project that will culminate in a paper and a presentation. A research proposal form completed by the student and faculty mentor is required for registration. The project must meet Honors Program thesis requirements and conform to the thesis guidelines of the Department of Religious and Ethical Studies. Open to Honors students and Teaching Fellows during their junior or senior year. Prerequisite: 12 credits in RES or by permission of the instructor.


RES-499 - Research in Religious and Ethical Studies
In conjunction with a faculty mentor, the student will participate in a research project that will culminate in a paper and a presentation. A research proposal form completed by the student and faculty mentor is required for registration. Open to Junior and Senior RES majors and Religion and Ethics and the Public Interest Minors.