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.
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.
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.
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.”
Are science and religion enemies, strangers, or partners? We investigate this fundamental question in a semester-long course that introduces the philosophical, theological, and ethical relationship between science and religion. Both science and religion are quests for understanding that fundamentally shape our world, but these disciplines ask different questions and follow different methods. While they may appear to conflict, closer examination reveals room for a deeper engagement through fruitful dialogue and constructive integration. Students will grapple with several of the “big questions” which animate the relationship between science and religion, like: “Does the universe have a purpose?” “Is faith compatible with evolution?” “Does science make belief in God obsolete?” and “What does it mean to be human?”
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.
Jesuit education encourages students to live as women and men with and for others. Service and community engagement support this goal. This semester course explores how community service promotes solidarity and spiritual development within the context of Christian faith and commitment to social justice. Specifically, students will study responsible civic partnership, discerning God’s presence in service experiences, living a faith that does justice, promoting social justice through service relationships, and contributing to the common good through civic engagement. The course uses a service-learning method of instruction. Students will receive release time from a portion of classroom instruction for service in the community. SI will organize partnerships with community organizations to support specific learning objectives. The course requires students to participate in one of these partnerships as part of a cohort. Students will learn from their service experience through a process of intentional reflection and interpretation. In addition to their service experience, students complete traditional coursework designed to complement and enrich the experience. The course assesses students on their professionalism, their ability to make skillful observations of their experience, the intentionality of their reflections, their ability to use course concepts to interpret their service experience, research about the strengths and needs of a community they serve, and communication of their learning.
This semester-long course will explore connections in religious experience, social justice, and spirituality that we discover through the study and experience of nature. We study the natural world- and our place in it. That leads to a creative response (literature and art), a spiritual response (prayer and connection with the divine), and an ethical response (stewardship). Students will experience nature first-hand through weekly field trips, read texts that examine the quest for meaning through nature, and begin (or continue) their own journey of becoming stewards of creation.
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.