Program in Religious Studies Program in Religious Studies Program in Religious Studies Program in Religious Studies Program in Religious Studies

College of Arts & Sciences

Program in Religious Studies

Questions?

Wioleta D. Polinska

630-637-5317

wdpolinska@noctrl.edu

Spirituality is widely regarded as one of the most fundamental dimensions of the human experience. Learn how the beliefs and practices of the major world traditions (including Christianity, Judaism, Islam, African and Native American traditions, Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism and Shinto) have helped to shape the lives of people around the world — past, present and future.

You can explore and compare various traditions as well as focus on specific aspects of religion, such as theology, ethics or sacred scriptures. By studying these beliefs and practices you will develop a strong foundation for understanding the diversity of our global community.

A degree in religious studies will allow you to pursue graduate study, attend seminary, work in social and/or religious service or pursue careers in a variety of other fields.

We also encourage our students to form personal relationships with their professors in order to discover ways that the study of religion can fit in with their own personal and career goals.

Religious Studies, B.A.

For additional programs and courses in this department, see Religious Studies.

Major Requirements

A minimum of 32 credit hours, including:

Religion Courses

  • RELG 100 - Introduction to World Religions

    RELG 100 - Introduction to World Religions

    4.00 credit hours

    A phenomenological study of the major religions of the world. Special emphasis is given to the beliefs, rituals, sacred texts, and ethical dimensions of each religion.

    Cardinal Directions Designation(s)
    Humanities, Global Understanding.
    iCon(s)
    Thinking Globally.

    Schedule Of Classes

One course from each of the following areas:
Biblical Studies
  • RELG 110 - Introduction to the Bible

    RELG 110 - Introduction to the Bible

    4.00 credit hours

    An introduction to the academic study of the Bible, including the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible and the New Testament. Students will explore these texts as complex literary and theological documents created under the influence of multiple historical and cultural contexts.

    Cardinal Directions Designation(s)
    Humanities, Ethical Dimensions.
    iCon(s)
    Experiencing Place, Being Human.

    Schedule Of Classes

Theology
  • RELG 330 - Cross, Violence, and Resistance

    RELG 330 - Cross, Violence, and Resistance

    4.00 credit hours

    An examination of theological interpretations of the life and death of Jesus. Attention is given to how the violent death of Jesus at the core of Christian theology influences the way societies perceive and respond to violence.

    Cardinal Directions Designation(s)
    Humanities, U.S. Power Structures, Community Engaged Learning.
    iCon(s)
    Engaging Civic Life.

    Schedule Of Classes

Ethics
  • RELG 390 - Topics in Religious Ethics

    RELG 390 - Topics in Religious Ethics

    4.00 credit hours

    An examination of a current topic, theme, or approach within Religious Ethics. Encompasses both theory and applications to personal and communal life.

    Prerequisite(s)

    Two courses from Philosophy or Religious Studies and CARD 101.

    Cardinal Directions Designation(s)
    Ethical Dimensions, Writing Intensive.

    Schedule Of Classes

  • RELG 344 - Religion & the Political Order

    RELG 344 - Religion & the Political Order

    4.00 credit hours

    An examination of primary texts from the history of religious political philosophy with an eye to their relevance for understanding current events and challenges at the intersection of religion & politics. Emphasis is on Jewish, Christian, and Muslim sources.

    Prerequisite(s)

    Two courses from Philosophy or Religous Studies.

    Cardinal Directions Designation(s)
    Humanities, Ethical Dimensions.

    Schedule Of Classes

Asian Traditions
  • RELG 255 - Karma, Suffering, and Rebirth

    RELG 255 - Karma, Suffering, and Rebirth

    4.00 credit hours

    An exploration of spiritual liberation in the religions of India with a particular focus on overcoming the problems of karma, suffering, and rebirth in Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, and Sikhism.

    Schedule Of Classes

  • RELG 260 - The Dao of Chinese Religion

    RELG 260 - The Dao of Chinese Religion

    4.00 credit hours

    A survey of the major religions of China with a particular focus on self-cultivation as the key to establishing social harmony (Confucianism), living in harmony with the forces of nature (Daoism), and harmonizing with the totality of space and time (Buddhism).

    iCon(s)
    Thinking Globally.

    Schedule Of Classes

  • RELG 265 - Religious Pluralism in Japan

    RELG 265 - Religious Pluralism in Japan

    4.00 credit hours

    An examination of the harmonious co-existence of diverse religious traditions both within and between Buddhism and Shinto from the ancient past to the contemporary period.

    Cardinal Directions Designation(s)
    Humanities, Global Understanding.
    iCon(s)
    Thinking Globally.

    Schedule Of Classes

Electives

Minimum of ten credit hours of RELG electives (PHIL 360 and ANTH 345 count towards this requirement). Maximum of two credit hours towards the ten credit hours of required electives can be earned through internship or independent study (in addition to RELG 498).

Capstone

Additional Requirements for the B.A. Degree

Students must demonstrate elementary competence in a foreign language. For more information, see the B.A. Degree Requirements within the Academic Regulations section of this catalog.

Religious Studies Minor

For additional programs and courses in this department, see Philosophy and Religious Studies.

Minor Requirements

A minimum of 20 credit hours, including:

  • RELG 100 - Introduction to World Religions

    RELG 100 - Introduction to World Religions

    4.00 credit hours

    A phenomenological study of the major religions of the world. Special emphasis is given to the beliefs, rituals, sacred texts, and ethical dimensions of each religion.

    Cardinal Directions Designation(s)
    Humanities, Global Understanding.
    iCon(s)
    Thinking Globally.

    Schedule Of Classes

Biblical Studies

  • RELG 110 - Introduction to the Bible

    RELG 110 - Introduction to the Bible

    4.00 credit hours

    An introduction to the academic study of the Bible, including the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible and the New Testament. Students will explore these texts as complex literary and theological documents created under the influence of multiple historical and cultural contexts.

    Cardinal Directions Designation(s)
    Humanities, Ethical Dimensions.
    iCon(s)
    Experiencing Place, Being Human.

    Schedule Of Classes

Theology and Philosophy of Religion

  • RELG 330 - Cross, Violence, and Resistance

    RELG 330 - Cross, Violence, and Resistance

    4.00 credit hours

    An examination of theological interpretations of the life and death of Jesus. Attention is given to how the violent death of Jesus at the core of Christian theology influences the way societies perceive and respond to violence.

    Cardinal Directions Designation(s)
    Humanities, U.S. Power Structures, Community Engaged Learning.
    iCon(s)
    Engaging Civic Life.

    Schedule Of Classes

Ethics

One of the following:

  • RELG 344 - Religion & the Political Order

    RELG 344 - Religion & the Political Order

    4.00 credit hours

    An examination of primary texts from the history of religious political philosophy with an eye to their relevance for understanding current events and challenges at the intersection of religion & politics. Emphasis is on Jewish, Christian, and Muslim sources.

    Prerequisite(s)

    Two courses from Philosophy or Religous Studies.

    Cardinal Directions Designation(s)
    Humanities, Ethical Dimensions.

    Schedule Of Classes

  • RELG 390 - Topics in Religious Ethics

    RELG 390 - Topics in Religious Ethics

    4.00 credit hours

    An examination of a current topic, theme, or approach within Religious Ethics. Encompasses both theory and applications to personal and communal life.

    Prerequisite(s)

    Two courses from Philosophy or Religious Studies and CARD 101.

    Cardinal Directions Designation(s)
    Ethical Dimensions, Writing Intensive.

    Schedule Of Classes

Asian Traditions

One of the following:

  • RELG 255 - Karma, Suffering, and Rebirth

    RELG 255 - Karma, Suffering, and Rebirth

    4.00 credit hours

    An exploration of spiritual liberation in the religions of India with a particular focus on overcoming the problems of karma, suffering, and rebirth in Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, and Sikhism.

    Schedule Of Classes

  • RELG 260 - The Dao of Chinese Religion

    RELG 260 - The Dao of Chinese Religion

    4.00 credit hours

    A survey of the major religions of China with a particular focus on self-cultivation as the key to establishing social harmony (Confucianism), living in harmony with the forces of nature (Daoism), and harmonizing with the totality of space and time (Buddhism).

    iCon(s)
    Thinking Globally.

    Schedule Of Classes

  • RELG 265 - Religious Pluralism in Japan

    RELG 265 - Religious Pluralism in Japan

    4.00 credit hours

    An examination of the harmonious co-existence of diverse religious traditions both within and between Buddhism and Shinto from the ancient past to the contemporary period.

    Cardinal Directions Designation(s)
    Humanities, Global Understanding.
    iCon(s)
    Thinking Globally.

    Schedule Of Classes

NOTE: This page contains all of the regular course descriptions for this discipline or program. Academic credit for each course is noted in parenthesis after the course title. Prerequisites (if any) and the general education requirements, both Core and All-College Requirements (ACRs), which each course fulfills (if any) are noted following each course description. Not all courses are offered every year. Check Merlin, our searchable course schedule, to see which courses are being offered in upcoming terms.

RELG 100 Introduction to World Religions (4.00)

An introduction to the major religions of the world. The primary methodology is phenomenological. Special emphasis is give to the beliefs, rituals, sacred texts, and ethical dimension of each religion.

Cardinal Directions Designation(s): Humanities, Global Understanding.
iCon(s): Thinking Globally.

RELG 110 Introduction to the Bible (4.00)

An introduction to the academic study of the Bible, including the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible and the New Testament. Students will explore these texts as complex literary and theological documents created under the influence of multiple historical and cultural contexts.

Cardinal Directions Designation(s): Humanities, Ethical Dimensions.
iCon(s): Experiencing Place, Being Human.

RELG 115 Christian Ethics & Spirituality (4.00)

An examination of ethical texts, spiritual practices, and applied topics from Early Christianity to the present. Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and Protestant sources and perspectives are included. Topics may include Environment, End of Life, Sexuality & Marriage, War & Military, Immigration, and Consumerism.

Cardinal Directions Designation(s): Humanities, Ethical Dimensions, Well Being.
iCon(s): Being Human.

RELG 150 Nature & Well Being (4.00)

An introductory course on holistic wellness in which students explore the DuPage County Forest Preserves in concert with readings from the various disciplines. Special emphasis is placed on texts and spiritual practices from various religious traditions.

Cardinal Directions Designation(s): Humanities, Well Being.
iCon(s): Examining Health, Sustaining Our World.

RELG 222 Peace & Violence in the Bible (4.00)

A survey course designed to examine the themes of peace, war, and violence in the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament and the New Testament. Special attention is given to the historical context in which the Bible was written and the portrayals of God that result.

Cardinal Directions Designation(s): Humanities, Global Understanding.
iCon(s): Thinking Globally.

RELG 225 Urban Ethics & Religion (4.00)

An examination of urban problems and the ways in which religious communities relate and respond to these problems in both helpful and detrimental ways.

Cardinal Directions Designation(s): U.S. Power Structures, Community Engaged Learning.
iCon(s): Challenging Inequity.

RELG 227 Jesus and Buddha in Dialogue (4.00)

A comparison of Christianity and Buddhism with a particular focus on their respective contemplative traditions. 

Cardinal Directions Designation(s): Humanities, Global Understanding, Well Being.

RELG 230 Women and the Bible (4.00)

(Same as GSST 230.) An introductory course that examines how women are depicted in biblical tradition. Students will carefully read narratives about women in the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament and New Testament and explore their history of interpretation, including contemporary readings.

Cardinal Directions Designation(s): Humanities, U.S. Power Structures.
iCon(s): Challenging Inequity, Being Human.

RELG 235 Sexuality and Christianity (4.00)

(Same as GSST 235.) A study of contemporary Christian approaches to sexuality in dialogue with secular philosophies of sexuality.

Cardinal Directions Designation(s): Humanities, Ethical Dimensions, U.S. Power Structures.

RELG 240 Religion in the United States (4.00)

A study of the multi-religious panorama of the U.S. Particular emphasis is placed on the voices of minority traditions and how religious commitments and freedoms are negotiated in the context of religious pluralism.

Cardinal Directions Designation(s): Humanities, Ethical Dimensions, U.S. Power Structures.

RELG 245 Religion and Ethics in Film (4.00)

An exploration of religious and ethical values in contemporary films with a particular emphasis on social justice concerns related to race, gender, and religious diversity.

Cardinal Directions Designation(s): Arts, Ethical Dimensions, U.S. Power Structures.
iCon(s): Challenging Inequity.

RELG 250 Death & Dying (4.00)

An examination of the meaning and mystery of death and dying from several religious, philosophical and scientific perspectives. The course also considers both spiritual practices and ethical issues connected to death and dying.

Cardinal Directions Designation(s): Humanities, Ethical Dimensions.
iCon(s): Examining Health, Being Human.

RELG 255 Karma, Suffering, and Rebirth (4.00)

An exploration of spiritual liberation in the religions of India with a particular focus on overcoming the problems of karma, suffering, and rebirth in Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, and Sikhism.

RELG 260 The Dao of Chinese Religion (4.00)

A survey of the major religions of China with a particular focus on self-cultivation as the key to establishing social harmony (Confucianism), living in harmony with the forces of nature (Daoism), and harmonizing with the totality of space and time (Buddhism).

iCon(s): Thinking Globally.

RELG 265 Religious Pluralism in Japan (4.00)

An examination of the harmonious co-existence of diverse religious traditions both within and between Buddhism and Shinto from the ancient past to the contemporary period.

Cardinal Directions Designation(s): Humanities, Global Understanding.
iCon(s): Thinking Globally.

RELG 270 Judaism (4.00)

A course on the beliefs, traditions, and history of Judaism. Special attention is given to the Jewish experience, particularly in the 20th and 21st centuries.

Cardinal Directions Designation(s): Humanities, Global Understanding, U.S. Power Structures.
iCon(s): Experiencing Place, Challenging Inequity, Thinking Globally.

RELG 280 Islam (4.00)

This course provides an overview of basic Islamic beliefs and practices through an examination of Islamic theology as articulated in Islamic classical traditions and reinterpreted for today. The course analyzes the impact of Islamic beliefs and values on social and cultural practices, and on the formation of institutions, communities, and identities.

RELG 315 The Global Buddha: Permeating Space-Time (4.00)

A study of the global transformations of Buddhism from its initial development in India to its various formulations in Southeast, Central, and East Asia as well as its more recent manifestations in the West.

iCon(s): Being Human, Examining Health.

RELG 330 Cross, Violence, and Resistance (4.00)

An examination of theological interpretations of the life and death of Jesus. Attention is given to how the violent death of Jesus at the core of Christian theology influences the way societies perceive and respond to violence.

Cardinal Directions Designation(s): Humanities, U.S. Power Structures, Community Engaged Learning.
iCon(s): Engaging Civic Life.

RELG 344 Religion & the Political Order (4.00)

An examination of primary texts from the history of religious political philosophy with an eye to their relevance for understanding current events and challenges at the intersection of religion & politics. Emphasis is on Jewish, Christian, and Muslim sources.

Prerequisite(s): Two courses from Philosophy or Religious Studies.
Cardinal Directions Designation(s): Humanities, Ethical Dimensions.

RELG 350 Gender and World Religions (4.00)

(Same as GSST 350.) An analysis of feminist thought in various global religious traditions with a focus on the redefinition of traditional concepts, rituals, and practices.

Cardinal Directions Designation(s): Humanities, Global Understanding.
iCon(s): Challenging Inequity, Thinking Globally.

RELG 390 Topics in Religious Ethics (4.00)

An examination of a current topic, theme, or approach within Religious Ethics. Encompasses both theory and applications to personal and communal life.

Prerequisite(s): Two courses from Philosophy or Religious Studies and CARD 101.                          Cardinal Directions Designation(s): Ethical Dimensions, Writing Intensive.

RELG 392 Bible Seminar (4.00)

A reading and writing intensive seminar in which students will join the scholarly conversation on the Bible. Students will analyze select biblical texts, engage in academic research and writing, and discuss their findings with their peers. Rather than survey the breadth of the whole Bible, this course will delve the depths of one small portion of the biblical text, such as Genesis, Psalms, the gospels, or Paul’s letters.

Prerequisite(s): RELG 110 and CARD 101.
Cardinal Directions Designation(s): Humanities, Writing Intensive.
iCon(s): Being Human.

RELG 397 Internship (0.00-12.00)

RELG 399 Independent Study  (1.00-12.00)

RELG 497 Internship (0.00-12.00)

RELG 498 Capstone (2.00)

RELG 499 Independent Study (1.00-12.00)

Shelley Birdsong

Assistant Professor of Religious Studies
Religious Studies
+1 630 637 5314
Perry Hamalis

Cecelia Schneller Mueller Professor of Religion; Professor of Religious Studies
Religious Studies
+1 630 637 5318
Brian Hoffert

Associate Professor of Religious Studies and History; Coordinator of History of Ideas
Religious Studies
+1 630 637 5619
Wioleta Polinska

Professor of Religious Studies; Chairperson, Department of Religious Studies and Philosophy
Religious Studies
+1 630 637 5317

Faculty Emeriti

Thomas R. McFaul
Professor of Ethics and Religious Studies Emeritus
B.A., Northern Illinois University, 1964; M.Div., Pacific School of Religion, 1967; Ph.D., Boston University, 1972
trmcfaul@noctrl.edu

Howard E. Mueller
Dr. C. Frederick Toenniges Professor of Religious Studies
B.A., North Central College, 1958; B.D., Evangelical Theological Seminary, 1961; S.T.M., Yale University Divinity School, 1962; Ph.D., Northwestern University, 1973
hemueller@noctrl.edu

William H. Naumann
Professor of Religious Studies Emeritus
whnaumann@noctrl.edu

Extra-curricular and professional activities that will enrich your religious studies education.

With so many houses of worship in the vicinity of North Central College, there are plenty of opportunities to participate in paid/unpaid internships and other education and youth programs in local religious institutions.

You can also

  • earn up to 15 hours of graduate credit to use toward a master's degree at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary or another school of your choice. See more information on the partnership with GETS here.
  • attend Contemplative Series which focuses on the contemplative dimension of human experience through short presentations followed by meditation
  • volunteer to work at a homeless shelter or food pantry
  • contact Office of Faith & Action to find out about other ways you can assist the community
  • take a look at the broad range of student organizations on campus, many of which cater to those with an interest in spirituality
  • engage in field research related to the study of world religions
  • conduct an independent study project in an overseas religious center
  • apply for a Richter Independent Study Fellowship, with grants of up to $5000 for individual research projects, including the cost of overseas travel and living expenses

Let us help you discover your potential!


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