Religious Studies

“Religious studies” introduces students both to the academic study of religion and spirituality and also to the variety of religious traditions around the world (Hinduism and Buddhism; Judaism, Christianity, and Islam; Chinese religious traditions; and indigenous religious traditions in North America and in Africa).  In addition, students with a particular thematic interest may pursue the study of “religion and film,” “spirituality and wellness,” and/or “religion and human rights.” Because religion is deeply implicated in history, culture, politics, literature, and medicine the study of religion is critical to understanding and explaining complex global issues in both the past and the present. One does not have to be “religious” or “spiritual” to study religion, nor is the study of religion directed toward establishing the truth of one religion over another.

To major in religion (i.e., religious studies) means to pursue the academic study of religion from a variety of theoretical and methodological perspectives, including anthropology, archaeology, cognitive sciences, fine arts, history, philosophy, psychology, sociology, and textual analysis. Because religious studies is an interdisciplinary field of study, students may use the major in religion in many different ways: preparation for graduate school; as a second major in a program of study leading to a career in business, healthcare, or teaching; or to enrich personal knowledge and skills and understanding of others. Consistent with this interdisciplinary emphasis, religious studies faculty teach courses supporting a variety of minor programs, including Ancient Mediterranean Studies, Islamic Studies, Medieval and Renaissance Studies, Latino/a Latin American Studies, Native American Studies, Women's and Gender Studies, Medical Humanities, and Human Rights Studies. In addition to a number of professional options, the basic intellectual purpose of religious studies is to develop an appreciation for, an understanding of, and a critical insight into the rich variety of the world's religious and spiritual traditions in the complex global realities of the twenty-first century.

Other Information

All coursework taken for the Religion major or minor must be completed with a grade of “C-“ or better.

Courses may be taken in-person, online, or a combination of the two. The Religion major is offered both in-person on UNO's campus (with the option to take some courses online) and as an online major.

Contact

205 Arts and Sciences Hall
402.554.2628

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Writing in the Discipline

All students are required to take a writing in the discipline course within their major. For the Religion major, this is the “Senior Seminar in Religion” (RELI 4010) course.

Degrees Offered

Minors Offered

RELI 1010  INTRODUCTION TO WORLD RELIGIONS (3 credits)

A introductory course in religious studies, designed both to introduce students to ways of understanding religion as a phenomenon in human culture and history and also to survey a wide variety of the religions of the world.

Distribution: Humanities and Fine Arts General Education course and Global Diversity General Education course

RELI 2000  ARCHAEOLOGY OF BIBLICAL LANDS (3 credits)

This course introduces students to the purpose and methods of biblical archaeology and includes a survey of the material culture of the land of the Bible from the Chalcolothic (5th - 4th millennia BCE) to the Persian periods (4th century BCE). Special emphasis will be placed on the relationship between biblical narratives and the archaeological reconstruction of ancient social and natural environments.

RELI 2010  RELIGION AND CRITICAL THOUGHT (3 credits)

This class introduces students to critical approaches to the study of religion. Students are exposed to a variety of social scientific, scientific, philosophical, indigenous, and critical literary approaches to the study of wide-ranging religious beliefs and practices. The course is required for majors and recommended for minors in Religion as well as others with high interest in the field of Religious Studies.

Prerequisite(s)/Corequisite(s): 3 hours in Religion or permission of instructor.

RELI 2020  RELIGION AND HUMAN RIGHTS (3 credits)

This course introduces students to the intersection of religion and human rights. It takes human rights as a moral tradition and asks how it impacts and is impacted by religious moral thought.

Distribution: Global Diversity General Education course and Humanities and Fine Arts General Education course

RELI 2060  THE RELIGION OF ANCIENT EGYPT AND MESOPOTAMIA (3 credits)

This course is designed to familiarize the student with the religions of ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia. The course will use archaeological discoveries together with ancient Egyptian and Mesopotamian texts to explore the religions of these two civilizations. It will deal with Mesopotamian and Egyptian beliefs surrounding issues such as creation, afterlife, ethics, morality and rituals.

Prerequisite(s)/Corequisite(s): Intro to World Religion is recommended but not necessary.

RELI 2120  HINDU SCRIPTURES (3 credits)

An introduction to some of the foundational scriptures of Hinduism (Sanatana Dharma) from traditional and modern perspectives, including the Vedas, the Upanishads, and the Bhagavad-Gita.

Prerequisite(s)/Corequisite(s): Not open to non-degree graduate students.

RELI 2150  HEBREW SCRIPTURES (3 credits)

A historical introduction to the study of the Hebrew Scriptures from the Biblical to Talmudic period in the light of recent scholarship.

Distribution: Humanities and Fine Arts General Education course and Global Diversity General Education course

RELI 2160  NEW TESTAMENT (3 credits)

An introduction to the literature of the New Testament from a historical perspective.

RELI 2170  QUR'AN (3 credits)

This course provides an introduction to the academic study of the Qur'an, its uses, interpretations, and applications in society from its earliest appearance up to the present.

Distribution: Humanities and Fine Arts General Education course and Global Diversity General Education course

RELI 2190  THE MODERN MIDDLE EAST (3 credits)

An interdisciplinary study of the social, religious and historical dimensions of contemporary issues and events which make the Middle East cultural and geographic region a crucible of global tensions. (Cross-listed with HIST 2190, SOC 2190)

Distribution: Global Diversity General Education course and Humanities and Fine Arts General Education course

RELI 2200  INTRODUCTION TO RELIGIOUS ETHICS (3 credits)

An introduction to the main types of ethical thought in the history of religion (with special attention to current approaches) and the relation of religious ethics to contemporary moral problems.

RELI 2300  INTRODUCTION TO JEWISH ETHICS (3 credits)

An introduction to the main types of ethical thought in the history of Judaism (with special attention to contemporary approaches) and the relation of Jewish ethics to other religious and non-religious moral systems. The following issues will be examined: truth-telling, self-sacrifice, political ethics, sexual ethics, abortion, suicide, euthanasia and others.

RELI 2400  RELIGION IN AMERICA (3 credits)

The role of religion in American culture, seen in the interaction between the inherited religious traditions and the crucial events in American experience and how this affects American identity - past and present.

Prerequisite(s)/Corequisite(s): Sophomore or permission of instructor.

RELI 2500  SPIRITUALITY AND WELLNESS (3 credits)

This course provides an introduction to the emerging field of spirituality and wellness. Utilizing perspectives from multiple disciplines and incorporating both third-person (research, theory) and first-person (experiential, reflective) approaches, students will explore topics such as: the nature of spirituality; mindfulness, meditation and wellness; spirituality and public health; spiritual wellness on campuses; and ecospirituality.

Prerequisite(s)/Corequisite(s): Not open to non-degree graduate students.

RELI 3020  NATIVE AMERICAN RELIGIONS (3 credits)

Study of the sacred stories, symbols, ceremonies, and belief systems of selected Native American peoples, representing the major cultural regions of North America.

Prerequisite(s)/Corequisite(s): Junior, or NAMS 1100, or three hours in religion.

RELI 3030  SHAMANISM (3 credits)

Study of the forms and techniques of shamanic experience from its Paleolithic and Neolithic origins to its contemporary practice among indigenous peoples, including its role in the development of human religious traditions and systems of healing.

RELI 3050  RELIGIONS OF THE EAST (3 credits)

A study of the major religions which considers their histories and contemporary forms. Included are the religions of Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism and Shintoism.

Prerequisite(s)/Corequisite(s): Junior, three hours in religion, or permission of instructor.

RELI 3060  RELIGIONS OF THE WEST (3 credits)

A study of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, with an introduction to their ancient predecessors.

Prerequisite(s)/Corequisite(s): Junior, three hours in religion, or permission of instructor.

RELI 3120  HEBREW PROPHETS (3 credits)

A critical survey of the messages and roles of the Hebrew prophets in light of their historical, cultural and theological background in Israel and the Ancient Near East. The course will include an examination of prophecy in the Biblical literature.

Prerequisite(s)/Corequisite(s): Junior or three hours in religion.

RELI 3130  WOMEN AND THE BIBLE (3 credits)

A survey of the female characters of the Hebrew Bible and New Testament, a critical analysis of Biblical imagery of and teachings concerning women, and an examination of the impact of Biblical interpretations on women in society. (Cross-listed with WGST 3120).

Prerequisite(s)/Corequisite(s): Junior, three hours in Religion or Women's Studies or permission.

RELI 3150  THE JUDAIC TRADITION (3 credits)

A study of the Judaic understanding of God, man and world in three stages: (1) The early Hebraic understanding of law and history; (2) The Rabbinical tradition and development of Jewish mysticism and philosophy; and (3) Contemporary Judaism and movements such as Hasidism, reconstructionism and Zionism.

Prerequisite(s)/Corequisite(s): Junior or RELI 1010, or RELI 2300, or RELI 2150; or permission.

RELI 3170  HISTORY OF CHRISTIANITY (3 credits)

The development of Christian theological, ritual, and social practice from the beginnings of Christianity through the Reformation.

Prerequisite(s)/Corequisite(s): Junior, three hours in religion, or permission of instructor.

RELI 3180  MODERN CHRISTIAN THOUGHT (3 credits)

The history of Christian thought from the Enlightenment to Vatican II.

Prerequisite(s)/Corequisite(s): Junior, three hours in religion, or permission of instructor.

RELI 3200  ISLAM (3 credits)

A study of history, beliefs, and practices of Islam, including both Sunni and Shi'i traditions as well as the role of Sufism and contemporary movements.

Prerequisite(s)/Corequisite(s): Junior, three hours in religion, or permission of instructor.

RELI 3220  RELIGION AND REASON (3 credits)

A critical study of the dialogue between philosophical reason and religious belief. Reason is seen historically in the various roles of enemy, ally and servant of religion. Consideration of contemporary options for applying intellect to faith.

Prerequisite(s)/Corequisite(s): Junior, three hours in religion, or permission of instructor.

RELI 3250  THE FEMININE IN MYTHOLOGY (3 credits)

The course will acquaint students with (1) the images of the feminine in the earliest strata of human culture, (2) the symbols of the feminine in the myths of the primary religious traditions of the world, and (3) the role of feminine image-making within contemporary religious consciousness. (Cross-listed with WGST 3250).

Prerequisite(s)/Corequisite(s): Junior, or three hours in Religion, or permission.

RELI 3310  CONTEMPORARY RELIGIOUS THOUGHT (3 credits)

A survey of recent developments in religious thought, emphasizing central themes and basic issues in current discussion.

Prerequisite(s)/Corequisite(s): Junior, three hours in religion, or permission of instructor.

RELI 3330  ROMAN CATHOLIC THEOLOGY TODAY (3 credits)

An investigation of differences and developments in Roman Catholic theology in last decades of the 20th century, with consideration of the bases in the tradition for the progressive and conservative theologies of today.

Prerequisite(s)/Corequisite(s): Junior, three hours in religion, or permission of instructor.

RELI 3400  RELIGION AND FILM (3 credits)

This course examines the relationship between religion and film. From the very beginning of filmmaking, religion or religious themes have been the subject of movies. And, religion is found in many different kinds of movies, from Hollywood blockbusters to art films, from documentaries to short films. This course explores the various ways in which movies treat religion or religious topics.

Prerequisite(s)/Corequisite(s): RELI 1010 or permission of the instructor. Not open to non-degree graduate students.

RELI 3500  SPECIAL TOPICS IN RELIGION (3 credits)

The content of this course varies from semester to semester, giving instructor and students an opportunity to investigate various subjects of interest in religious studies. (May be repeated for credit as long as the topic is different.)

Prerequisite(s)/Corequisite(s): Junior, three hours in religion, or permission of instructor.

RELI 3960  READINGS IN RELIGION (1-6 credits)

Individual research in selected areas or particular questions in religious studies.

Prerequisite(s)/Corequisite(s): Nine hours in religion and permission of instructor.

RELI 4000  RELIGIOUS STUDIES INTERNSHIP (1-6 credits)

A supervised internship enabling students to develop and apply knowledge and gain expertise related to the field of Religious Studies while working at a non-profit, educational, non-governmental or related organization. The host organization for the student must be approved in advance in consultation with the internship coordinator and the Chair of Religious Studies. This course may be repeated for a maximum of six credit hours.

Prerequisite(s)/Corequisite(s): Junior or senior. Religious Studies major, Religious Studies minor, or concentration in Religious Studies. Permission of internship coordinator. Not open to non-degree graduate students.

RELI 4010  SENIOR SEMINAR IN RELIGION (3 credits)

This course provides a capstone experience in religious studies. It serves as the third writing course and is required for Religion majors. The readings will be on a topic chosen by the instructor each time the course is taught. Each student will complete a major research paper and will present it orally.

Prerequisite(s)/Corequisite(s): Five courses in Religion, or permission of instructor.

RELI 4020  BUDDHIST TRADITION (3 credits)

A study of the Buddhist understanding of man's religious circumstances, including the life and teachings of Gautama the Buddha, the development of Theravada tradition, the philosophy of Nagarjuna, and the major Mahayana movements with special attention to Zen and Tantrism.

Prerequisite(s)/Corequisite(s): Junior or permission of instructor.

RELI 4040  RELIGION AND HOMOSEXUALITY (3 credits)

A study of homoeroticism in (1) ancient Near Eastern and classical Mediterranean traditions, and in (2) traditions from one or more non-Western cultural regions. The course will include cross-cultural study of religious understandings of homosexuality in modern cultures, with attention to the relation between sexuality and spirituality and to issues of gender identity. (Cross-listed with WGST 4040).

Prerequisite(s)/Corequisite(s): Junior standing, six hours in religion and/or women's studies, or permission of instructor.

RELI 4050  RELIGION IN EARLY AMERICA (3 credits)

This course examines the history and nature of religion in North America to c. 1770 with an emphasis on the British colonies. (Cross-listed with HIST 4010; HIST 8016).

Prerequisite(s)/Corequisite(s): Junior or senior standing. Not open to non-degree graduate students.

RELI 4150  JUDAISM IN THE MODERN AGE (3 credits)

A critical investigation of Judaism since the Enlightenment emphasizing historical, intellectual and religious-legal developments. Pivotal movements (e.g., Hassidism, Reform, Historical Conservative Judaism, Modern Orthodoxy, Zionism) and major historical events (e.g., the American and French Revolutions, Tsarist oppression, the Holocaust and the establishment of the State of Israel) will be analyzed for their ongoing impact. (Cross-listed with RELI 8156)

Prerequisite(s)/Corequisite(s): Junior, three hours in religion, or permission of instructor.

RELI 4160  THE HOLOCAUST (3 credits)

An interdisciplinary approach in a seminar oriented format discussing various aspects of the most notorious genocide in modern times. The course will explore the history of anti-Semitism, the rise of Nazi Germany and the road to the 'final solution.' It will further explore psychological, sociological and intellectual aspects of the dark side of humanity. (Cross-listed with RELI 8166, HIST 4720, HIST 8726)

Prerequisite(s)/Corequisite(s): Junior or instructor permission.

RELI 4200  COMPARATIVE RELIGIOUS ETHICS (3 credits)

An introduction to historical and contemporary approaches to comparative religious ethics, with special focus on specific case studies as encountered in societies and religious communities across the globe. In addition to reading authors from a variety of perspectives (Aristotelians, natural law theorists, philosophers of law, pragmatists, theologians, and historians of religion), students will be introduced to special topics in the field, e.g., religion and public life, religion and law, syncretism, the secular/non-secular divide, etc. This course supports the Ethics and Values concentration in the Master of Arts in Critical and Creative Thinking. (Cross-listed with RELI 8206, CACT 8206)

RELI 4220  VIOLENT CONFLICTS, PEACEBUILDING, AND THE ETHICS OF INTERVENTION (3 credits)

This course is designed to familiarize the student with the nature of violent conflict, including terrorism, and a variety of the mechanisms for peacebuilding. The course will also explore human rights and the ethics of intervention. This course supports the Ethics and Values concentration in the Master of Arts in Critical and Creative Thinking. (Cross-listed with RELI 8226, CACT 8226)

RELI 4300  EXISTENTIALISM AND RELIGIOUS THOUGHT (3 credits)

A study of existentialism in its theistic (e.g., Kierkegaard) and atheistic (e.g., Sartre) forms, and its impact on recent Jewish and Christian thought. (Cross-listed with RELI 8306)

Prerequisite(s)/Corequisite(s): Junior

RELI 4400  WOMEN IN ISLAM (3 credits)

This course examines the religious, political and cultural assignments ascribed to Muslim women. Starting with the Qur'an, social, legal, and scriptural norms will be explored through the voices of Muslim women around the world. Passages of the Qur'an, hadiths and the commentaries that lead to the elevation and/ or demise of Muslim women and their rights are studied. Examining the role of the female body, sexuality and seclusion within a historical context will lead to an understanding of the gendering of women in Islam. (Cross-listed with RELI 8406)

Prerequisite(s)/Corequisite(s): RELI 3200

RELI 4420  MUSLIMS IN AMERICA (3 credits)

This course is designed to familiarize the student with the multiplicity of Muslim voices in the United States and to examine the myths created through stereotyping and orientalizing. The course will also investigate how Muslims in America form identities as hybrids and transnationals and follows the chronological development of American Muslims including their identity construction, religious issues, and politics. (Cross-listed with RELI 8426)

Prerequisite(s)/Corequisite(s): RELI 3200 or permission.