Religious Studies

The Religious Studies Program, which includes a minor course of study, is designed to engage students in the academic exploration of the nature and expression of religious experience from a variety of perspectives and contexts. Course selection includes the study of world religions, biblical criticism, spirituality, the study of the Catholic tradition in its historical, doctrinal and ecclesial contexts and inquiry into human experience as a resource for theological insight and development. Religious Studies Minor Division of Humanities

The Religious Studies minor presents students with a cohesive and flexible program of study designed to:

  1. increase students' understanding and appreciation of the varieties of religious experience and expression;
  2. address current theological issues; and
  3. correlate the students' pursuit of theological inquiry with the development of faith, religious belief, and moral responsibility.

Course Sequence

RLS 100 Biblical Studies
RLS 104 World Religions
RLS 114 Introduction to Christian Thought
RLS 106 Theology and Human Experience or
RLS 224 Experience in Christian Ministry
RLS 115 Religion in America or
RLS 116 American Catholicism
RLS Other Core Selection or RLS Elective

Course Descriptions

RLS 100 Biblical Studies, 3 credits

Biblical Studies is the study of selected Christian and Hebrew scriptures directed toward the development of an awareness of what the biblical authors meant to communicate to their contemporaries with special attention paid to literary forms, sociological factors, theological insight, and historical settings.

RLS 104 World Religions, 3 credits

Students will learn about the major religions of the world and become familiar with the ways these religions differ from each other in regard to gods, rituals, scriptures, founders, the arts, and their concepts of the principal purposes of life.

RLS 106 Theology and Human Experience, 3 credits

Presents students with the principles of theology and a practical methodology for relating the major resources of the Christian faith with human experience. Selected readings, the use of case studies and/or actual experience provide the reference point for reflecting theologically upon human experience.


RLS 107 Women and Spirituality, 3 credits

Feminist consciousness and theory will provide the context for this course as it explores biblical texts, and the life and writings of medieval women including Hildegard of Bingen, Julian of Norwich, and Teresa of Avila. The course will examine the rich and varied expressions of spirituality found in the traditions of African and Native American women healers, their understanding of art as a sacred process, and their reverence for the body and the earth.

RLS 113 Theology of the Church, 3 credits

Presents students with the historical, cultural, and theological contexts for understanding the nature and mission of Christian ecclesial communities. Special attention will be given to the Roman Catholic Church from the Reformation to Vatican II and to the recent ecumenical developments.


RLS 114 Introduction to Christian Thought, 3 credits

Presents the major developments in Christian thought from the early church and medieval periods including the life and writings of dominate figures in each period and the debates that surrounded the issues of faith and reason, nature and grace, salvation, and scripture.

RLS 115 Religion in America, 3 credits

Examines religious diversity in America with special emphasis given to the principle tenets of Protestant, Orthodox, and Catholic Christianity as well as the tenets of Judaism, Native American religion, Islam, and other traditions.


RLS 116 American Catholicism, 3 credits

Explores ways in which Americans and American institutions shaped United States Catholic identity and how Catholics contributed, in turn, to the intellectual, political, cultural, and social life of the nation. Particular attention will be given to the influence of Catholic social teaching on American life and to the theological and cultural pluralism which continues to inspire and challenge American Catholic identity.

RLS 117 Christian Health Care Ethics, 3 credits

This course will examine health care ethics primarily within a Christian theological context. The course will cover the role of ethics in health care and the process of moral decision making in a health care setting. This includes analysis of a variety of moral problems and dilemmas in health care, including but not limited to abortion, critical care at the beginning and end of life, reproductive technology, research issues, and the health care system itself.

RLS 118 Catholic Social Teaching and Mercy Spirituality for the 21st Century, 3 credits

This course will examine the history and elements of Catholic social teaching. These principles will be put into practice through the student's experience of service learning in the community working directly with the Sisters of Mercy and their ministries. This course will explore a brief historical background on Catherine McAuley, the foundress of the Sisters of Mercy, while incorporating the nature and mission of the Sisters of Mercy and how the mission is relevant today.

RLS 120 Mayan Religion and Culture, 3 credits

Explores the Mesoamerican civilization in its highest form, the civilization of the Maya, surveying its history from the Olmec period circa 1000 BCE to the time of the Spanish conquest circa 1500 CE. Mayan myth and ritual will be examined as evidenced in monumental architecture, sculpture, painting, and literature. Students will learn the fundamentals of the Mayan system of writing and of the calendar, with particular attention paid to the use of calendrical mythology in the political legitimization of Palenque’s dynasty.

RLS 151 University Writing Seminar 3 credits

This course introduces and develops skills and abilities fundamental to proficient academic writing. This course emphasizes the critical reading and the summary, synthesis, and analysis of primary materials in the study of world religions. In addition to meeting the University Writing Seminar requirement, this course also satisfies the RLS 104: World Religions requirement in the Core Curriculum. It should not be taken by someone who has successfully completed a University Writing Seminar in a different department, as it will not count toward the Writing Intensive course requirement. It may not be used to grade replace a University Writing Seminar taken in another department. It may not be taken be someone who has previously completed RLS 104: World Religions.

RLS 185 Core-Special Topics, 3 credits

Selected topic course at the introductory level that will satisfy core curriculum requirements. Topics vary from semester to semester and will be announced with preregistration information and course outline.

RLS 215 Death and Dying, 3 credits

This course provides an overview of the topics of death and dying. Specifically, in this course students will examine the topic of death as a universal for cross-cultural analysis and as a site of contested meaning in American society. Among the themes dealt with in this course are the beliefs regarding death held by the world's major religions, the death rituals of representative global societies, the evolution of attitudes toward death and the afterlife in western society, the process of grieving, ethical concerns surrounding the topics of death and dying, and the manner in which hospitals shape the end of life.

RLS 224 Experience in Christian Ministry, 3 credits

Course enables students to correlate their professional skills and ministerial competencies within a service-oriented context. Theological study, field placement, and ministerial/professional development are major components of the course.

(On demand)

RLS 285 Core-Special Topics, 3 credits

Selected topic course at higher level than RLS 185 that will satisfy core curriculum requirements. Topics vary from semester to semester and will be announced with preregistration information and course outline.

RLS 480 Independent Study, 1-3 credits

Qualified advanced students may arrange independent study in areas not covered by existing courses. The permission of the involved faculty is required before Independent Study may be pursued.
(On demand)

RLS 485 Special Topics, 1-3 credits

This offering allows students the opportunity to pursue the investigation of a selected topic through research and/or study/travel courses. Topic may vary from semester to semester and will be announced with preregistration information and course outline.

(On demand)

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