Religious Studies Major

57-58 units

Mission Statement

The religious studies major offers courses in religious studies by employing a dialogical perspective that invites conversation between Christians and people from non-Christian global religious traditions. Our program exists to prepare undergraduate students for responsible understanding of, and engagement with, people of a variety of global religious traditions in order to be faithful, well-informed, and culturally sensitive participants in intercultural and interreligious dialogue. We prepare students to engage the world from a place of sincere Christian faith, awareness, and praxis, and we accomplish this by training our students in interreligious approaches and by focusing on praxis, religious experience, theology, and philosophy with respect to those traditions.

Introduction

The religious studies major equips students to understand and engage the major global religious traditions of the world. Using a dialogical approach, students learn to comprehend Christianity as it relates to major religious traditions within North America as well as the world. Students develop and employ skills in a variety of academic disciplines, including theology, sociology, philosophy, ritual and liturgical studies, and anthropology, as a way of explaining and comprehending their own location in relation to those global religious traditions. Students then develop and cultivate responsible dialogical approaches in order to engage people from non-Christian religious traditions in a manner consistent with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The religious studies major equips students to critically and responsibly engage people from religious traditions throughout the world in respectful and fruitful dialogue. Graduates are prepared to enter graduate programs in religion, law, medicine, social sciences, theology, public policy, and philosophy. They also are prepared to enter careers that demand sustained intercultural awareness, including missions, interreligious nonprofit work, and public service.

Program Learning Outcomes

Students who complete the religious studies program are able to:

PLO 1: Explain global religious traditions in those traditions’ cultural and historical contexts, including their characteristics, values, liturgies, rituals, and performative practices.

PLO 2: Recall the definitions and significance of key terms related to religious studies.

PLO 3: Demonstrate understanding and comprehension of, and ability to employ appropriately, key methodologies in the discipline.

PLO 4: Display sensitivity in their evaluation of various religious practices, theologies, and philosophies.

PLO 5: Summarize and evaluate the varieties of praxis, religious experience, theology, and philosophy of the major religious traditions.

PLO 6: Construct strategies for dialogue with people in other religious traditions that is respectful and fruitful, that deepen students’ own faith commitments, and, for Christian students, that draw others to Christ.

Requirements

A minimum 2.5 cumulative GPA is required in all major courses.

General Education
Writing 23
Writing 2: Writing in Religious Studies & Visual Studies 1
Writing 33
Select one of the following:
Writing 3: Concepts of Human Nature 2
Writing 3: Women in the Biblical Tradition 2
Integrative and Applied Learning3
Senior Seminar: Biblical Theology and Ethics 3
Biblical, Theological, and Philosophical Formation18-19
Christian Life, Faith, and Ministry
Introduction to Biblical Literature: Exodus/Deuteronomy
Luke/Acts
UBBL 3XX: Any General Education Bible Course
Church History from the Eve of the Reformation to the Present
Select one of the following:
Core Texts in Philosophy (3 units on Azusa Campus; 4 units at High Sierra Semester)
Introduction to Philosophy
Major Course Requirements
RELG 200World Religions 43
RELG 400Special Topics in the History of Religion3
RELG 495Special Topics Seminar-Contemporary Christianity and Religious Studies3
RELG 498Religious Studies Capstone Course3
THEO 363Contemporary Christian Theology3
Select three of the following:9
Urban Religious Movements (only offered at L.A. Term)
Introduction to Judaism 4
Introduction to Islam 4
Introduction to Hinduism and South Asian Traditions 4
Introduction to Buddhism and East Asian Traditions 4
Select two of the following:6
Sociology of Religion
Philosophy of Religion
Psychology of Religion
Total Units57-58

RELG 200, World Religions, 3 Units

This course offers a study of global religious traditions in their cultural and historical contexts. Students critically examine various definitions and methodologies of global religious studies from the perspectives of confessing Christians. Traditions examined include Hinduism, Primal Religions, Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, Islam, Judaism, and Christianity. Meets the General Education Requirement: Intercultural Competence. 

RELG 350, Introduction to Judaism, 3 Units

This course offers an introduction to the texts, the traditions, and the practices of Judaism as they have developed over the centuries. The students will be exposed to the literature of classical Judaism, including the Hebrew Bible, the Mishnah, Midrash, and Talmud. These texts will be read in conjunction with a study of the historical, sociological, and phenomenological environments in which they developed and which mediated them from one generation to the next. The course includes a study of how Judaism has responded to the changes wrought by modernity and the creation of the State of Israel. Meets the General Education Requirement: Intercultural Competence. 

RELG 351, Introduction to Islam, 3 Units

This course offers an introduction to the texts, the traditions, and the practices of Islam as they have developed over the centuries. The course will focus on rituals, ethics, and practices of Islam, along with discussion of Islam's holiest text, the Qur'an. It will include study of the historical, sociological, and phenomenological environments in which these elements developed and which mediated them from one generation to the next. The course includes a study of how the various forms of Islam have responded to the changes wrought by the modern world. Meets the General Education Requirement: Intercultural Competence. 

RELG 352, Introduction to Hinduism and South Asian Traditions, 3 Units

This seminar course will explore the major indigenous religions of South Asia with particular emphasis on shared concepts such as karma, the cycle of rebirth (samsara), and the transcendence of rebirth (nirvana/moksha) in order to equip Christians for global Christian praxis and inter-religious theological and philosophical dialogue. We will trace the evolution of Indian religion from its roots in the Vedas and the Upanishads through the development of Jainism, Hinduism, and Sikhism, and we will conclude with an examination of "inclusivist" and "exclusivist" approaches to religious pluralism in contemporary Indian thought. Meets the General Education Requirement: Intercultural Competence. 

RELG 353, Introduction to Buddhism and East Asian Traditions, 3 Units

This seminar course examines East Asian (or Taoist) religions including Mayahana or Ch'an Buddhism, Confucianism, and Taoism, with minor emphasis on Chinese folk religions and Shinto in their Chinese, Korean and Japanese contexts, with minor emphasis on Vietnamese perspectives in order to equip Christians for global Christian praxis and inter-religious theological and philosophical dialogue. Meets the General Education Requirement: Intercultural Competence. 

RELG 400, Special Topics in the History of Religion, 3 Units

Students explore selected epochs, movements, or issues in the history of the Church as it relates to various non-Christian global religious traditions.

Prerequisite: RELG 200, PHIL 100/HUM 224, THEO 354, any 300-level RELG course, or department consent

RELG 495, Special Topics Seminar-Contemporary Christianity and Religious Studies, 3 Units

Students explore movements or issues related to contemporary Christianity as it relates to various non-Christian global religious traditions.

Prerequisite: RELG 200, PHIL 100/HUM 224, THEO 354, any 300-level RELG course, or department consent

RELG 498, Religious Studies Capstone Course, 3 Units

This course develops and offers practical opportunities to master the concepts and methodologies used within the field of Religious Studies and apply them to a particular religious tradition. It will culminate in a Capstone Paper, which is a significant religious studies project requiring extensive research and writing and conducted under the guidance of an approved faculty member. The Capstone Paper is equivalent in work to a typical senior thesis, with the focus on research methods, analysis, and critical evaluation.

Prerequisite: Senior Standing, three 300-level RELG courses, Writing 3, or department consent