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Philosophy Courses

The following courses are offered in the department.

PL 111 Introduction to Philosophy (3 credit hours)
A critical examination of philosophical approaches to the nature of reality, religious belief, moral responsibility, and human freedom by addressing perennial questions, such as: How should I live? How do we know what we know? Is free will an illusion? Is the existence (or non-existence) of God or gods something that can be proved rationally? What is the proper balance between the public good and our own private freedom? Is there an independent standard for judging what is truly real versus what is truly illusion? PRE-2015 CORE: Level II. 2015 CORE: Belief & Reason, Acquire.

PL 113 Critical Reasoning (3 credit hours)
This course will focus on the study of arguments and will help students develop techniques useful in recognizing, analyzing, and evaluating arguments. The application of both the inductive and deductive criteria for evaluating arguments will be explored as well as other criteria of evaluation. Topics the course will cover include rational argumentation, fallacies, definition, meaning, truth, and evidence. PRE-2015 CORE: Level II. 2015 CORE: Explorations of Nature, Acquire.

PL 221 Philosophy of Religion (3 credit hours)
This course offers classical and contemporary arguments for understanding the existence, nature, and reality of God. We will analyze and evaluate contemporary conceptions of divinity, humanity, and spirit as well as related issues in the philosophy of religion: evil, immortality, relationships between faith and reason, the nature of religious experience, and conceptions of the religious subject. PRE-2015 CORE: Level II. 2015 CORE: Belief & Reason, Transform, Global Studies.

PL 255 Ethics (3 credit hours)
This course is a critical examination of a range of major ethical theories, where students will systematically reason through and discuss major ethical notions as well as notions of ethical agency. Questions that might be covered include but are not limited to: How do we as members of communities live? How ought we live? What are the differences between good and bad choices? Why should I act other than what is in my self-interest? Do I have duties to myself and others? If so, what are those duties? What kinds of actions are morally significant or irrelevant to moral thinking? PRE-2015 CORE: Level II. 2015 CORE: Social Justice & Civic Life, Transform. FA, SP.

PL 311 Contemporary Continental Philosophy (3 credit hours)
This course explores ideas of existence, freedom, anxiety, subjectivity, power, and justice in the writings, films, and other works of 20th Century and contemporary theorists and philosophers. Prerequisite: One lower-division course in Philosophy.

PL/WS 326 Feminist Theory & Practice (3 credit hours)
This course provides an overview of the major philosophical issues that have defined feminism as a subject of intellectual inquiry and offers practical engagement of these issues through its community engagement component. Although feminism’s historical focus has been on women, an even more fundamental issue for the movement has been how power and oppression are created from and wielded upon various categories of humans. In this light, this course will explore the construction of numerous identities (including “woman,” “man,” and many other ways of understanding the self), how power is negotiated from those identities, and how these translate into issues of subjectivity, rights, politics, aesthetics, sexuality, ethics, and a host of other issues. PRE-2015 CORE: Level II. 2015 CORE: Social Justice & Civic Life, Contribute, Community Engagement. FA.

PL 339 Social and Political Philosophy (3 credit hours)
This course is a critical examination of some major political and social questions, such as (but not limited to): What is the nature and scope of political authority? What (if any) legitimate forms does it take? Can the state be justified? What does it mean to be a political agent? What is the relationship between politics and religion, economics, race, and/or gender? This course challenges students to critically reflect upon our shared political freedoms and obligations, justifications of political authority, the social nature of identities, and our roles as political subjects. PRE-2015 CORE: Level II. 2015 CORE: Social Justice & Civic Life, Transform, Global Studies.

PL/IS 358 Violence (3 credit hours)
A multidisciplinary investigation into acts and relations of social and political violence. This investigation may focus within the following arenas: the social phenomena of violence and power; the extent of its moral justifiability, political legitimacy, and practical efficacy; the reality and responsibilities of perpetrators, victims, and others; and how communities are rebuilding and sustaining relations within various present realities of violence. Within this subject matter and these contexts, the course aims to enrich and expand video techniques as well as develop creative representational strategies. Throughout the course, students work to advance critical skills as viewers, makers, and readers of filmmaking within the context of course content. Students will work individually and in groups to explore the advocacy potential of the video production process as well as the final product. PRE-2015 CORE: Level II & III. 2015 CORE: Social Justice & Civic Life, Contribute, Interdisciplinary Studies, Global Studies, Community Engagement. SP, even years.

PL/IS 360 Human Rights & Social Justice (3 credit hours)
Drawing from the values and perspectives of Catholic Social Teaching through the lenses of Philosophy and Social Work practice, this course critically examines social justice concepts and develops intercultural skills needed to address issues of social justice with individuals and diverse communities. Through a cultural immersion experience abroad, students will be engaged with local communities and participate in community-based learning opportunities which address issues such as human rights, human dignity, solidarity with the poor, and the common good. PRE-2015 CORE: Level II & III. 2015 CORE: Social Justice & Civic Life, Contribute, Interdisciplinary Studies, Global Studies, Community Engagement. SP, odd years.

PL/IS 372 - Being Together: A Global Context (3)
This interdisciplinary course will introduce the student to thinking about what it means to exist together with other human beings in the midst of a “global” world, especially as that concept is navigated by means of gender, racial, class, and other differences. We will consider both the genesis of these categories and also how best to understand them, and we will do so largely by recognizing that they are influenced or determined by other categories, like, for example, power and desire. In this way, the course will consider both the most basic philosophical issues involved in existing with others (recognition, acknowledgment, and inter-subjectivity, as well as their failures) as well as the more specific ways in which we come to relate to and identify ourselves and each other (gender, race, class, and others). We will conclude the course by exploring issues of justice in light of a global context and of our explorations throughout the semester. 2015 CORE: Social Justice & Civic Life, Transform, Interdisciplinary Studies, Global Studies.

PL 380 Special Topics (1-3)
Selected topics to be determined by the department. Course may be repeated for up to 12 credit hours towards the degree.

PL 480. Special Topics. (1-3 credit hours)
Selected topics to be determined by the department. Course may be repeated for up to 12 credit hours towards the degree.

PL 485. Practicum. (3 credit hours)
Experience in one of the specialized areas of Philosophy, with departmental guidance and supervision.

PL 490. Directed Studies. (3 credit hours)
Approved and directed in-depth study of a specific area of Philosophy, according to student need and interest. Prerequisite: Permission of department.

PL 499. Senior Seminar. (3 credit hours)
Students from both Philosophy and Religious Studies work through a global theme, analyzing and evaluating issues and problems within that theme from the perspectives and methodologies of both disciplines. Meets the Capstone requirement in the major. Prerequisite: Permission of department.

Religious Studies Courses

RS 111 Introduction to Religious Studies (3 credit hours)
This course will provide a critical analysis of religion as a human endeavor through historical, anthropological, and sociological standpoints. Through the academic study of religion, students will become conversant with major themes, issues, figures, and phenomena that have been instrumental in religion’s social description and analysis. PRE-2015 CORE: Level II. 2015 CORE: Belief & Reason, Acquire.

RS 117 World Religions (3 credit hours)
This course offers both a historical and critical look at human religious experience through a study of the world’s many religious traditions. Topics include the varieties of religious belief and the historical/political experiences that inspired them, including ideas of the holy and sacred, scriptures, myths, symbols, rituals, and morality. PRE-2015 CORE: Level II. 2015 CORE: Belief & Reason, Acquire, Global Studies.

RS 221 Philosophy of Religion
This course offers classical and contemporary arguments for understanding the existence, nature, and reality of God. We will analyze and evaluate contemporary conceptions of divinity, humanity, and spirit as well as related issues in the philosophy of religion: evil, immortality, relationships between faith and reason, the nature of religious experience, and conceptions of the religious subject. PRE-2015 CORE: Level II. 2015 CORE: Belief & Reason, Transform, Global Studies.

RS/WS 225 Introduction to Catholic Studies (3 credit hours)
This course is a critical study of the beliefs and practices of Roman Catholics. We examine contemporary trends and issues within Roman Catholic communities using methods from the social sciences. The course gives special attention to gender and power dynamics within Roman Catholic institutions. PRE-2015 CORE: Level II. 2015 CORE: Belief & Reason, Transform. SP.

RS 231 Christianity (3 credit hours)
This course will address origins and major events in the history of Christianity and its different cultural expressions throughout the world, spanning from the time before Jesus’s birth through the present period. The study of Christianity will be approached as an incredibly widespread, diverse, multi-purposed, multi-vocal, and global phenomenon. Topics to be addressed include the historical figure of Jesus; the rise of Christianity as a local and global phenomenon; the political, social, and cultural role of Christianity throughout a variety of locales; and how Christianity has been an instrument of both defeat and power for underrepresented groups. PRE-2015 CORE: Level II. 2015 CORE: Belief & Reason, Transform.

RS 251 Islam (3 credit hours)
Through formative, classical, and contemporary interpretations of Muslim history and religion, this course will analyze the diverse understandings of Islam, including the nature of religious experience, the nature of God, and the life and significance of Muhammad. PRE-2015 CORE: Level II. 2015 CORE: Belief & Reason, Transform, Global Studies.

RS 252 Judaism (3 credit hours)
Situating ancient and contemporary interpretations of Jewish history, politics, and religion together, this course will analyze and explore many of the following aspects of Judaism: diverse understandings of the relationship between the Hebrew Bible and Jewish communities, beliefs and rituals within religious practice, the role of women within Judaism, conceptions of Jewish identity, as well as the nature of God, religious experience, divine revelation, and religious authority. PRE-2015 CORE: Level II. 2015 CORE: Belief & Reason, Transform.

RS/IS 311 Peace Studies (3 credit hours)
This course provides an interdisciplinary (religious studies, communication, philosophy, sociology, history, and economics) approach to achieving peace on a personal, local, national, and international level. The focus is on developing practical strategies for creating peace and living peacefully in a global society. PRE-2015 CORE: Level II & III. 2015 CORE: Social Justice & Civic Life, Contribute, Interdisciplinary Studies, Global Studies.

RS 360 - Human Rights & Social Justice (3)
Drawing from the perspectives of Catholic Social Teaching and Social Work practice, this course explores the concept of social justice and examines the intercultural skills needed to address issues of social justice with individuals and communities. Through a cultural immersion experience abroad, students will be engaged with local communities and participate in community-based learning opportunities in order to develop, practice and assess the intercultural skills needed in working towards social justice on a local-global scale. PRE-2015 CORE: Level II & III. 2015 CORE: Social Justice & Civic Life, Contribute, Interdisciplinary Studies, Global Studies, Community Engagement. SP, odd years.

RS/IS 368 Christianity in Film (3 credit hours)
This course is a cross-disciplined investigation of the interaction between Christianity (both as a formal social institution and its cultural manifestations) and the global film industry. The course will focus on the widespread themes through which cinematographers have portrayed the world’s largest religion, along the way uncovering the flexibility of Christianity as a force interacting with and being impacted by culture. The course will grapple with the great diversity of Christian representations in film, including topics such as the following: the figure of Jesus; Catholic and Protestant theologies; Christian concepts of good, evil, and morality; and popular cultural forms of Christian discourse. PRE-2015 CORE: Level II & Level III. 2015 CORE: Belief & Reason, Transform, Interdisciplinary Studies.

RS 380. Special Topics. (1-3 credit hours)
Selected topics to be determined by the department. Course may be repeated for up to 12 credit hours towards the degree.

RS 480. Special Topics. (1-3 credit hours)
Selected topics to be determined by the department. Course may be repeated for up to 12 credit hours towards the degree.

RS 485. Practicum. (3 credit hours)
Experience in one of the specialized areas of Religious Studies, with departmental guidance and supervision.

RS 490. Directed Studies. (3 credit hours)
Approved and directed in-depth study of a specific area of Religious Studies, according to student need and interest. Prerequisite: Permission of department.

RS 499. Senior Seminar. (3 credit hours)
Students from both Philosophy and Religious Studies work through a global theme, analyzing and evaluating issues and problems within the theme from the perspectives and methodologies of both disciplines. Meets the Capstone requirement in the major. Prerequisite: permission of department.

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