Current Courses


Students interested in a Religious Studies major, minor, or sequence should contact Professor Deepak Sarma at 368-4790 ( or Professor Peter Haas at 368-2741 (

For Program and course descriptions in the Program in Judaic Studies go to


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RLGN 212: Introduction to Christianity

Joy R. Bostic (TR 2:45-4:00)

This course is an introduction to the history, thought and culture of Christianity and its diverse traditions. Course requirements include field visits to local religious institutions.

RLGN 217: Buddhism

William E. Deal (MW 12:30-1:45)

The development of Buddhism. The life and teaching of the Buddha, the formation of the early Buddhist church, the schools of Hinayana Buddhism and Abhidharma philosophy, Nagarguna and the emergence of Mahayana Buddhism, the spread of Buddhism to China, the transformation of Buddhist thought in China, Zen Buddhism, the spread of Buddhism to the West.

RLGN 219: Islam in America

Justine Howe  (TR 10:00-11:15) 

The United States is home to one of the most diverse Muslim communities in the world. Using a variety of primary and secondary sources, this course examines the rich history of Islam in the United States, from the 18th century to the present, as it relates to key moments within American politics, religion and culture, and to transnational developments in Islamic thought and practice. We will also explore important issues within contemporary Muslim communities, including gender, shari’a, and religious pluralism. In addition to studying the experiences of Muslim immigrants, students will also investigate the vital role of African-American Muslims and converts in the development of American Muslim institutions, beliefs and rituals. This course will also introduce students to the history of Islam in Cleveland, and provide them with the opportunity to contribute to original research on Muslim communities in our city.

RLGN 221: Indian Philosophy

Deepak Sarma (TR 1:15-2:30)

(Also offered as PHIL 221) A survey of Indian philosophical thought with emphasis on the Vedas, early Hindu, and Jain literature.

RLGN 233: Introduction to Jewish Folklore

Judith Neulander   (TR 1:15-2:30)

(Also offered as ANTH 233 and JDST 233.) Exploration of a variety of genres, research methods and interpretations of Jewish folklore, from antiquity to the present. Emphasis on how Jewish folk traditions and culture give us access to the spirit and mentality of the many different generations of the Jewish ethnic group, illuminating its past and informing the direction of its future development.

RLGN 260: Introduction to the Qur'an

Justine Howe   (TR 2:45-4:00)

This course is an introduction to the Qur’an. For Muslims, the Qur’an is the inimitable word of God, and its influence has been both far-reaching and profound in various historical contexts. It introduces students to the text of the Qur’an, in English translation, providing a window into both Muslim interpretations of their scripture (from the early days of Islam to the present) and academic studies of the text. Students will approach the Qur’an as a living document, as text that is continually re-visited and re-interpreted by Muslims, and used in various ritual contexts and in daily life. This course will explore theological and legal dimensions of the Qur’an, touching on issues of God’s nature, Islamic ethics, the foundations of Islamic law, and gender roles.  A background in Arabic and/or Islam is not required. Students with knowledge of Arabic will have opportunities to use their expertise in written assignments.

RLGN 270: Introduction to Gender Studies

Michelle McGowan (TR 10:00-11:15)

(Also offered as ENGL 270, HSTY 270, PHIL 270, SOCI 201, and WGST 201.)  This course introduces women and men students to the methods and concepts of gender studies, women's studies, and feminist theory. An interdisciplinary course, it covers approaches used in literary criticism, history, philosophy, political science, sociology, anthropology, psychology, film studies, cultural studies, art history, and religion. It is the required introductory course for students taking the women's and gender studies major.

RLGN 283: Muhammad: The Man and the Prophet

Ramez Islambouli (TR 1:15-2:30)

The life of the Prophet Muhammad (c.470-632 CE) which was as crucial to the unfolding Islamic ideal as it is today. An examination of how he attempted to bring peace to war-torn Arabia by evolving an entirely new perspective of the human situation, guidance for human lives, and humans' relationship with God. The course will include Western perceptions of Islam, especially in light of September 11, 2001.

RLGN 312: The Mythical Trickster

Judith Neulander (TR 10:00-11:15)

Few literary figures have as wide a distribution, and as long a history, as the mythical Trickster. He is at once sacred and profane, creator and destroyer; an incorrigible duper who is always duped. Free of social and moral restraints he is ruled instead by passions and appetites, yet it is through his unprincipled behavior that morals and values come into being. How are we to interpret this amazing creature? Using folkloristic theories and ethnographic methods, we will come to understand the social functions and symbolic meanings of the cross-cultural Trickster, over time and across space.

RLGN 319: The Crusades

Elizabeth Todd (MW 11:30-12:45)

(Also offered as HSTY 319.) This course is a survey of the history of the idea of "crusade," the expeditions of Western Europeans to the East known as crusades, the Muslim and Eastern Christian cultures against which these movements were directed, as well as the culture of the Latin East and other consequences of these crusades.

RLGN 338: Black Women and Religion

Joy R. Bostic (TR 11:30-12:45)
(Also offered as ETHS 339 and WGST 339.) This course is an exploration of the multidimensional religious experiences of black women in the United States. These experiences will be examined within particular historical periods and across diverse social and cultural contexts. Course topics and themes include black women and slave religion, spirituality and folk beliefs, religion and feminist/womanist discourse, perspectives on institutional roles, religion and activism, and spirituality and the arts.

RLGN 343: Mysticism

Deepak Sarma (TR 2:45-4:00)

This class is an introduction to a central issue in the philosophy of religion concerning the nature of mystical experiences. Are all mystical experiences the same? Is it possible to have an experience outside of language? What is the ontological and epistemological status of drug induced mystical experiences? Students will learn to write and present arguments against positions using the methods of philosophers of religion(s).

RLGN 350/ 450: Jewish Ethics

Peter J. Haas (MW 12:30-1:45)

(Also offered as JDST 350.) An exploration of Jewish moral and ethical discourse. The first half of the course will be devoted to studying the structure and content of classical Jewish ethics on issues including marriage, abortion, euthanasia, and social justice. Students will read and react to primary Jewish religious texts. The second half of the course will focus on various modern forms of Judaism and the diversity of moral rhetoric in the Jewish community today. Readings will include such modern thinkers as Martin Buber and Abraham Joshua Heschel.

RLGN 371: Jews under Islam and Christinaity

Jay Geller (MW 12:30-1:45)

(Also offered as HSTY 371 and JDST 371.) This course examines the social and political status of Jews under Muslim and Christian rule since the Middle Ages.  Themes include interfaith relations, Islamic and Christian beliefs regarding the Jews, Muslim and Christian regulation of Jewry, and the Jewish response. 

RLGN 392:  Independent Study

Staff  (Times as arranged)

 (1-3 credit hours. Prerequisite:  Consent of instructor.)  Up to three semester hours of independent study may be taken in a single semester.  Must have prior approval of faculty member directing the project.

RLGN 394: Honors Research I

Staff (Times as arranged)

(Prerequisite: Department Consent) Intensive study of a topic or problem leading to the writing of an honors thesis.  Requires RLGN 102 plus 9 RLGN credits and department approval.

RLGN 395:  Honors Research II

Staff  (Times as arranged)

 (Prerequisite:  Consent of department chair.)  Intensive study of a topic or problem leading to the writing of an honors thesis.   Maximum six credits. 

RLGN 399:  Major/ Minor Seminar

Peter J. Haas (MW 10:30-11:20)

(Recommended preparation:  RLGN 102 and one other RLGN course.)  Capstone course primarily for majors and minors in Religion.  Allows students to interact with peers and faculty, reflect critically, and integrate their learning experiences.  Prepares students to continue their learning in the discipline and in the liberal arts.  Subject matter varies according to student and faculty needs and perspectives.  May be repeated once for up to six credit hours.

RLGN 410: Cognitive Science of Religion

William E. Deal (W 4:30-7:30)

This course introduces theories and methods in the cognitive science of religion. Particular emphasis is placed on applying cognitive scientific concepts and theories to such religious issues as belief in deities, religious ritual, and morality. We examine such topics as the relationship of religious studies to evolution and cognition, cognitive theories or religious ritual, anthropomorphism and religious representation, religion as an evolutionary adaptation, and cognitive semantics and religious language. Course work includes student-led discussions, a research-intensive journal-length essay on a topic chosen in consultation with the Instructor, and presentation of research findings to the class. Course readings are taken from the humanities, the social sciences, and natural sciences.








In addition to the courses offered on campus, Case students here have the option of taking courses at other universities in the area under an agreement with the North East Ohio Higher Education Council. Under the agreement with NEOCHE there is no extra tuition charged to the students and the course credits transfer easily (provided no equivalent course is taught at Case and with the approval of Case).

In general, to participate in this program, the student must be in academic good standing. Credits earned for courses taken at other area institutions do count toward the 15-credit-hour limit on credits earned at other institutions after matriculation at Case. Grades received for such courses will not appear on a student's Case transcript, nor will they be included in the GPA calculation. Such courses can count toward a RLGN major or minor, however, but only with Department of Religious Studies approval. Students should check with the Department of Religious Studies or with the Office of Undergraduate Studies before enrolling in one of these courses.

Below is a sample listing of some of the courses available at John Carroll University that students in Religious Studies might consider in addition to the offerings here. For up-to-date information about which courses are offered in a particular semester, about times and places, and on exact course descriptions, you should contact the Department of Religious Studies at JCU at 397-4780.

334. CHRISTOLOGY. (3 cr.) The person and work of Jesus Christ according to the scriptures, historical theology, and contemporary theology.

328. THEOLOGY OF AFRICAN AMERICAN SACRED MUSIC (3 cr.) Survey of theological issues and constructs in African American Sacred Music. Musical theology of Negro Spirituals as starting point in discovering expressions of biblical and societal musings. Gospel music as well as anthematic presentations present a basic understanding of life and being in the African American experience.

321. HISTORY OF THE IDEA OF EVIL (3 cr.) Problem of evil from its biblical origins to the modern period with emphasis on the interaction between religious notions and cultural forces. Topics include the Book of Job, the rise of Satan, Augustine and Original Sin, Aquinas, Dante, the Reformation, the Enlightenment, demonic and Gothic, modern theological and scientific approaches.

360. CATHOLIC MORAL THEOLOGY (3 cr.) Review and discussion of the sources of Catholic moral theology; study of how contemporary Catholic moral theologians apply these methods and sources to current questions of personal and social morality.

227. INTRODUCTION TO EASTERN CHRISTIANITY (3 cr.) History, spiritualities, iconography, theologies and current practices of the Eastern Christian Churches. Study of the Eastern Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and Oriental Orthodox Churches. Presentations provided by experts from various Eastern Churches.