Religious Studies 102: History of Covenant

What does it mean to “Find God in All Things”?  This class is an exploration into the complexity and depth of the religious imagination as modeled by St. Ignatius. The course proposes “covenant” as a historical thread that has followed Abrahamic religions throughout their histories as students are introduced to religious studies through the examples of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Students will apply a framework of belief, ritual, morality, and community in learning about how religions gain historical traction and relevance, and how culture and moral vision endure in many covenantal contexts today. Animated by the Catholic belief in the sacramentality of all creation, students will be challenged to reflect on the history, rituals, and symbols that charge their own lives with meaning. Special focus will be on forming students to do a faith that does justice, exploring questions of inclusion, conscience, culture and identity.

Religious Studies 103: Literature of Covenant

How do stories reveal to us who we are? How does our literature create our shared values and community? This course seeks to create a basic foundation of understanding the Hebrew Bible. In investigating the many types of literature within the Hebrew Bible, students will better understand the various ways to read texts and apply shared narratives to their own individual and communal experiences. As a lasting record of “covenant,” students will understand the Bible as constitutive for how different faith communities have come to understand themselves and their identities, including Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Students will conclude the course examining the relational and sexual dimension of human experience, probing covenantal wisdom for guidance in discerning the healing and liberative nature of human relationship.

Religious Studies 475: Sports and Spirituality

Students in this semester-long course explore spirituality through the analogy of sports.  Students will determine how human beings encounter the Holy in the midst of everyday life with emphasis on athletic experiences as an athlete and/or as a fan (of specific athletes, teams, and/or sporting events).  Students will also examine the relationship between competitive, organized athletics and elements of communal religious practice and purpose.  Included is a study of embedded meaning associated with the movement of the human body, an analysis of ritual practice, a survey of major events where sports and religious practice intersect, and a differentiation between religious practice and personal spirituality.  Ultimately, students will come to know more deeply the ways in which one relates to the Holy or the Transcendent in the course of their own faith journey, and how personal faith contributes to communal practice and celebration of what is Holy and Transcendent.

Religious Studies 201: Christology

At a pivotal moment in the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus asks his disciples “Who do you say that I am?”  The confusion that ensues among his followers is emblematic of the struggle that Christians and non-Christians alike have had throughout history to answer that very question.  In this course, students will be challenged to offer their own unique contributions to the discourse on the identity of Jesus.  They will grapple directly with the question Jesus posed to his disciples by developing responses based on multiple and intersecting paradigms: the personal, the historical, the theological, and the anthropological to name just a few.  Effectively engaging with the course will lead to greater skills in the areas of critical thinking, cultural competency, and religious imagination, among others.

Studio Art B/C: Sacred Symbols

Instructor: Katie Wolf

An experiential class focused on the exploration of the human desire to remember and recognize the Creator.  Through our exploration of symbols used as visual expressions in art, architecture and religious imagery, we will study various faith traditions to gather an understanding of praise older than language and the written word; to “see God in all things.”  In this integrated approach to learning about culture, religion and the arts, each student will create 15 major art pieces that represent the faith traditions studied and their own original works that express an understanding of aesthetics.  Through research, studio work, field trips (Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church, S.F., First Church of Christ Scientist, Berkeley, St. Mary’s Cathedral, S.F.), written papers, prayer, and reflection, each student will gain an ability to understand the role of the Creative spark in our lives.  An understanding of their own creative process will allow them to embrace the universal call of the Beloved to us, His instruments, and our response – an expression of praise.

Foundations of Ethics, Morality & Justice: RS 300

The foundation to this course is the call to uphold and promote the Gospel message of Jesus Christ.  This two-semester course engages students in the broad philosophical and theological discussions of good and evil, right and wrong, freedom and duty, in and beyond the practical moral decisions of everyday life. The first semester establishes an understanding of human dignity, informed conscience, and emphasizes a spectrum of principles and virtues.  The second semester introduces the tradition of social justice, Catholic social teaching, and the common good.  Students will tackle some of the most compelling dilemmas and dreams of the human experience.

Religious Studies 447: Encountering the World’s Religion

The goal of this course is to introduce students to the major religious traditions of the world and uncover what they have to teach about ourselves and the challenge of living in the 21st century.  We will focus on the core teachings of these traditions and supplement our readings with various mediums, including religious art and film.   An introduction to the study of religion and an overview of the characteristics of primal religions will form the foundation of our studies. An in-depth analysis of the major “world religions,” including Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Taoism, will follow. The common end of our diverse wisdom traditions is to transform our humanity into divine, awakened consciousness, enabling us to see the “divine in all things,” as St. Ignatius would say.  Our ultimate goal, then, will be to overcome fear and ignorance in order to become religiously literate and compassionate citizens, aware of a deep unity that underlies all of reality.

Religious Studies 460: Human Sexuality

This course is an exploration of the study of human sexuality as an all-embracing, all pervasive gift of God to each and every human being.  Viewed from the physical (biological and psychological) and spiritual (moral) points of view, this class will treat sexuality as it is dealt with in modern science, contemporary society, the Word of God, and the teachings of the Church.  Emphasis will be placed on helping students develop a healthy appreciation of their own sexuality and stress the importance of integrating values that promote self respect and integrity in both the way they reason and ultimately in the way they choose to live.

Religious Studies 470: The Ignatian Way

In this course, students will elect to undergo the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola.  In a retreat-like format, students will engage in meditation, contemplation and other forms of prayer in order to come to a better understanding of themselves as young adults in the 21st century and to recognize and respond to Ignatius’ invitation to “find God in all things.” Students should come with a desire to develop or deepen their personal relationship with God/Jesus under the guidance of St. Ignatius. With prayer as the daily foundation, students will use readings, film, discussion, and daily journaling to encounter God through the person of Jesus Christ.  Students should be willing to share their faith journey and prayer experiences both in journaling and in small group sharing. With the Exercises, a student chooses to undertake an intensely personal and oftentimes arduous journey, one that is shared with others in a structured and supportive environment.

Religious Studies 471: Telling Stories – Faith, Film and Fiction

In this semester course students explore and examine the “Catholic Imagination,” investigating the presence of God in everyday life.  Catholics believe that we inhabit a sacramental world, where God can be seen, heard, observed and felt in the ordinary. By examining the works of writers, artists and filmmakers, we will deepen our awareness of God’s sacramental presence in creation. We will work together to understand how sacraments are “outward signs of an inward grace.”