Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies
Assistant Professor Chris Jones, PhD
Consistent with the missions of the University and the College of Arts and Sciences, the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies is dedicated to providing high quality undergraduate courses in philosophy and religious studies, to providing the educational foundations for life-long critical thinking, to engaging in research and scholarly activities in these and related areas and to serving the University and its various communities. The Department emphasizes excellence in teaching undergraduate students.
Description of Discipline
Religious Studies is not just the study of religion. It begins with serious reflection on what we mean by “religion” and whether we all mean the same thing when we say it. Is religion a ubiquitous human phenomenon, the very thing that makes us human (as some have claimed)? Is religion about humanity’s search for cosmic meaning, or is it a technique for social cohesion (and control), or is it a projection of our desires and fears, or is it something else entirely? These perspectives (and others) will be entertained and evaluated in religious studies courses at Washburn University.
Student Learning Outcomes
Religious Studies students at Washburn University, upon graduation, are expected to be able to:
- Demonstrate an understanding of the subject matter of, and various methods used in, the academic study of religion.
- Describe the nature and diversity of world religions.
- Demonstrate competence in a concentrated area of religious studies.
- Access various theories, concepts, and materials (e.g., written texts, oral reports, archaeological data) central to the academic study of religion.
- Conduct and present research in written form.
- Orally explain and defend positions taken in written research.
RG 101 Introduction to Religion (3)
This course serves as an introduction to the academic discipline of religious studies. We will explore the human side of religion through the careful study of contextualized religious communities. Along the way, we'll develop a vocabulary for describing and comparing religious communities, and we'll learn some scholarly approaches to explaining why people are religious. Prerequisite: None.
RG 102 World Religions (3)
Study of the teachings and practices associated with some so-called "world religions" (including Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Yoruba) through ethnographies, films, TV clips, novels, and site visits, with special emphasis on local contexts and on interrogating the very concept of "world" religions. Prerequisite: None.
RG 103 Introduction to the Bible (3)
An introduction to the academic study of the Bible, including 1) biblical and non-biblical ancient texts in their historical contexts and 2) the historical processes that led to the creation of different canons of the Bible among Jews and Christians. Prerequisite: None.
RG 105 Introduction to Jewish Scriptures (3)
We will study a selection of ancient Jewish scriptures, including some that were eventually included in the Hebrew Bible (the Christian Old Testament) and some that were not, focusing on the specific political reasons that people had for writing these books and spreading them within their communities. Prerequisite: None.
RG 106 Introduction to Christian Scriptures (3)
Study of a selection of ancient scriptures read and/or written by ancient Christian communities, focusing on how it was determined which books would be included in the canonical New Testament. Prerequisite: None.
RG 110 Special Topics/Religion (1-3)
Topics will vary from semester to semester and will be announced in advance. May be repeated for credit when topics vary.
RG 207 Existence of God (3)
An elementary course in Philosophy and Religion focusing upon the specific rational arguments which have been advanced for and against the existence of a supreme being. Prerequisite: EN 101 or EN 102.
RG 300 Special Topics/Religion (2-3)
Topics will vary from semester to semester and will be announced in advance. May be repeated for credit when topics vary. Prerequisite: three hours pf Religion or PH 302.
RG 301 Prophets and Prophetic Books in Ancient Judaism (3)
In this course, ancient Jewish prophetic literature is examined, including biblical books like Isaiah and extra-canonical traditions like Enoch. Prophecy is studied against the backdrop of ancient Near Eastern divination, and focus is on the role of prophetic books (a uniquely Jewish phenomenon) in the shaping of early Judaism. Prerequisite: three hours of Religion.
RG 303 The Historical Jesus? (3)
Two thousand years ago, a Galilean peasant upended the world. Who was he? How would we know, when he himself wrote nothing and his followers told his story decades later from their own perspectives? In this course, we re-examine primary literary sources and archaeological data in an attempt to reconstruct the life of Jesus of Nazareth. In the process, we interrogate the ways that our quests for the historical Jesus are also quests to understand our own distinct historical moment(s). Prerequisite: three hours of Religion.
RG 305 The Apostle Paul as Jew and as Christian (3)
Arguably, no figure had more of an impact on the shape of Christianity than the Apostle Paul—not even Jesus of Nazareth himself. Yet Paul lived and died thinking of himself as a Jew. In this course, the historical Paul is reconstructed through his authentic writings, and then the ways that Christians have built on Pauline traditions in antiquity, during the Reformation, and into the 21st Century are examined. Prerequisite: three hours of Religion.
RG 331 Understanding Religion (3)
What do we mean when we call something "religion"? Who decides what is and is not "religion"? This course examines various approaches to the academic study of religion, focusing on current disciplinary debates over description versus explanation, insider/outsider dynamics, and the heuristic value of "religion" when applied to non-Western traditions. Prerequisite:Six hours of RG 201 OR PH 201 and PH 202 OR three hours of RG and PH 201 OR three hours of RG and PH 202.
RG 386 Special Study (1-3)
Individual study of specialized subjects pertaining to religion. May be repeated for credit. Prerequisites: nine hours of Religion and permission in advance by the professor with whom the student desires to work.
RG 398 Senior Thesis Preparation (3)
Independent research in preparation for a senior thesis. Students will complete preliminary research in the area of their senior thesis and prepare a thesis proposal. In addition, students will complete the portfolio project which asks them to submit a folder containing religious studies papers from previous courses along with their reflection upon their development over time in writing such papers. The proposal completed in RG 398 may not be or have been submitted for credit in any other course. Prerequisite: Senior Religious Studies Major