Religion Curriculum

View the requirements for an AOC in Religion and see sample pathways to graduation.

VIEW RELIGION ACADEMIC LEARNING COMPACT

VIEW RELIGION COURSES OFFERED IN LAST 5 YEARS

Area of Concentration Requirements

Prospective majors in religion should consult with faculty to construct an individualized plan of study. In order to declare an AOC, the student will have to take a minimum of eight courses, while in order to have Religion as a joint AOC the student will need a minimum of six. Religion AOC students are expected to take courses that explore the following:

  • An introduction to the study of religion to engage the central ideas of the discipline;
  • A course exploring the sacred scriptures of a religious tradition;
  • A class that explores the interconnections between religion and society;
  • Coverage of the history and development of a primary religious tradition; and study of a secondary religious tradition.

Interdisciplinary majors, or senior projects linking religion to other areas of inquiry, are particularly encouraged.

Through a combination of introductory courses, advanced seminars, and courses offered in cooperation with other disciplines, the Religion program works towards the goals of nurturing critical thinking, effective communication skills, and content knowledge. For advanced students, the present faculty in religion offers intensive work in philosophical issues in religious thought, method in the study of religion, religious texts, and religious ethics. Strong attention is given to historical study, analysis of the relationship between religion and society, and in-depth study of key thinkers and traditional problems in religion. Faculty in allied fields and visiting faculty provide additional opportunities to pursue diverse traditions and approaches.

Senior Thesis: In the sixth academic semester, the student must present a thesis proposal to the faculty in Religion once again fostering the student’s ability to communicate the coherence of the chosen topic. This proposal may serve as the basis for an oral examination by the faculty to determine the viability of the project. With the approval of the thesis committee, the student will submit the Thesis Prospectus and write a thesis under the direction of one of the faculty in Religion. The thesis project and baccalaureate exam will further develop the student’s critical thinking skills, communication skills, and display the specific content knowledge germane to the chosen topic.

Recent Courses

Introduction to Islam: This course introduces students to Islam as a religious faith. It uses secondary and primary sources in translation in order to expose students to the traditional accounts preserved by Muslims. The course emphasizes classical developments but will also delve into modern expressions of the faith. A final section devoted to modern Islam will include topics such as Revival Movements in Islam, Islam in Africa, Islam in Asia, and Muslims in the West.

Christian Scriptures: This course will provide an introduction to the texts that help us understand the beginnings of Christianity. We will consider the various individual and communal perspectives that these writings imply. Readings will include New Testament, the so-called Apocryphal literature, as well as texts known only from the Nag Hammadi discoveries. We will discuss reoccurring themes and address issues such as how certain texts came to be included within a “canon” while others were excluded. Claims to orthodoxy as opposed to heresy will reveal some of what is at stake within competing interpretations of scriptures.

Religion and Popular Culture: What can the AMC show “The Walking Dead” and HBO’s “True Detective” tell us about existential philosophy and the idea that God may be dead? What can the irreverent (and extremely intelligent) humor of “South Park” tells us about the role of religion in society? How does Paul Thomas Anderson’s movie The Master explore the complex nature of the founder of a new religious movement (and what is the difference between a charlatan and a savior?) How does the recent success of Superhero movies reflect the hopes, fears, and anxieties of a post 9/11 world? What can Tony Soprano (of HBO’s “The Sopranos”), and Walter White (from AMC’s “Breaking Bad”) tells us about the dark side of human nature? The main goal of this course is to discuss these and many other important religious and philosophical questions as explored in contemporary popular culture. Popular culture will also be a gateway to our reading of important religious and philosophical works, from the Book of Revelations to Nietzsche’s “Thus Spoke Zarathustra.”

Islamic Movements: from Early to Modern Religious Militancy: Curious about ISIS, or al-Qaeda? Why do these movements emerge? Why are they so violent? In this course you will learn about the history of revolutionary movements in the Muslim world. Because these movements claim to emulate a prophetic past, we will start by examining the life of Prophet Muhammad (d. 632). This course will help you think critically about religious violence, current events in the Middle East region and beyond, as well as the use of Islam as a template to gather crowds around grievances that are more socio-political than they are intrinsically religious.

Area of Concentration Requirements

Prospective majors in religion should consult with faculty to construct an individualized plan of study. In order to declare an AOC, the student will have to take a minimum of eight courses, while in order to have Religion as a joint AOC the student will need a minimum of six. Religion AOC students are expected to take courses that explore the following:

  • An introduction to the study of religion to engage the central ideas of the discipline;
  • A course exploring the sacred scriptures of a religious tradition;
  • A class that explores the interconnections between religion and society;
  • Coverage of the history and development of a primary religious tradition; and study of a secondary religious tradition.

Interdisciplinary majors, or senior projects linking religion to other areas of inquiry, are particularly encouraged.

Through a combination of introductory courses, advanced seminars, and courses offered in cooperation with other disciplines, the Religion program works towards the goals of nurturing critical thinking, effective communication skills, and content knowledge. For advanced students, the present faculty in religion offers intensive work in philosophical issues in religious thought, method in the study of religion, religious texts, and religious ethics. Strong attention is given to historical study, analysis of the relationship between religion and society, and in-depth study of key thinkers and traditional problems in religion. Faculty in allied fields and visiting faculty provide additional opportunities to pursue diverse traditions and approaches.

Senior Thesis: In the sixth academic semester, the student must present a thesis proposal to the faculty in Religion once again fostering the student’s ability to communicate the coherence of the chosen topic. This proposal may serve as the basis for an oral examination by the faculty to determine the viability of the project. With the approval of the thesis committee, the student will submit the Thesis Prospectus and write a thesis under the direction of one of the faculty in Religion. The thesis project and baccalaureate exam will further develop the student’s critical thinking skills, communication skills, and display the specific content knowledge germane to the chosen topic.

Joint Disciplinary AOC Requirements

Declaring a Religion AOC/Joint AOC: During the first module of a student’s fifth academic semester, the student will consult with a member of the faculty in Religion to determine what work in the concentration has been done and what remains. This meeting will emphasize the student’s skills at communicating the coherence of the student’s program of study. With the agreement of a second faculty member in Religion to the proposed plan of study, the student will submit an Area of Concentration form in Religion.

SAMPLE PATHWAYS to complete AOC Requirements

New College students must satisfy both the requirements of the Liberal Arts Curriculum (LAC), New College’s general education program, and the specific requirements for the Area of Concentration (AOC). With so many opportunities each term, the pathway below is provided as an example of how a student could complete the requirements for graduation. We’ve put some checkpoints in place so that you make the most of your time at New College. Each term you’ll meet with a faculty advisor to discuss courses, tutorials, internships, or other academic experiences. Schedule a meeting with your faculty advisor to discuss which courses satisfy the LAC and which satisfy the AOC. Each student completes a Provisional AOC Plan in the fifth contract to select an AOC, and each student submits a Thesis Prospectus/AOC Form in the sixth contract.

A Sample Four-Year Pathway for Religion

YearFall Term January / ISPSpring Term
Year 1Introduction Study of ReligionISPIslamic Movements
LAC 2General College Elective
LAC 3General College Elective
General College ElectiveLAC 4
Year 2Introduction to Buddhism ISPTibetan Buddhism
General College ElectiveVarieties of Judaism Modern World
General College ElectiveGeneral College Elective
LAC 5LAC 6
Year 3Varieties of Religious ExperienceISPJapanese Religions
Buddhist Scriptures General College Elective
General College ElectiveGeneral College Elective
LAC 7LAC 8
Year 4Religion AOC Seminar
Thesis Tutorial
General College Elective
General College Elective

A Sample Two-Year Pathway for Religion

YearFall Term January / ISPSpring Term
Year 3Introduction Study of ReligionISPBuddhist Scriptures
General College ElectiveGeneral College Elective
Introduction to BuddhismJudaism and Ecology
General College ElectiveGeneral College Elective
Year 4Religion AOC SeminarISPGeneral College Elective
Tibetan BuddhismThesis tutorial; baccalaureate exam
Islamic ScripturesGeneral College Elective
Thesis Tutorial