Courses

Philosophy Courses

Religion Courses


Philosophy Courses

PHIL 021: INTRO TO PHILOSOPHY, 3 credit hrs.
Introduction to the Western philosophical tradition through a study expository and critical, of a variety of issues: the existence of God, freedom, foundations of belief, etc.-as they have been formulated in the writings of outstanding classical and contemporary philosophers.

PHIL 034: CURRENT ISSUES/PHILOSOPHY, 3 credit hrs.
A discussion at the introductory level of the philosophic significance of various topics of contemporary interest. A student may receive credit for four semestsers of this course.

PHIL 079: ETHICS IN A GLOBALIZING WORLD, 3 credit hrs.
This course will apply competing ethical perspectives to a wide range of global issues, including the ethics of intervention in world politics, ethical perspectives on global economic issues, ethics and public health, and ethics and the environment.

PHIL 090: ETHICS, 3 credit hrs.
An exploration of attempts to develop an adequate personal moral philosophy, including the analysis of selected normative ethical theories and the problems of relativism, egoism and determinism.

PHIL 091: CONTEMPORARY ETHICAL PROBLEMS, 3 credit hrs.
Study of contemporary ethical problems from the perspective of philosophical and religious principles. Various sections of the course may specialize in different types of ethical problems. Crosslisted with Rel 91. May be used as part of Women's Studies Concentration.

PHIL 104: ANCIENT PHILOSOPHY, 3 credit hrs.
The study of the major philosophers of the ancient era, including Pre-Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle, and the major schools of the Hellenistic period. The philosophy of the period is set in the context of intellectual, social and scientific developments.

PHIL 105: MEDIEVAL PHILOSOPHY, 3 credit hrs.
A study of the major philosophers of the medieval era, from Augustine through Ockham, with reference to such issues as the existence of God, the nature of belief, the problem of universals and the rediscovery and extension of Greek philosophy.

PHIL 106: MODERN PHILOSOPHY, 3 credit hrs.
A study of the major philosophers of the modern era, such as Bacon, Descartes, Locke, Berkeley, Hume and Kant, with reference to certain, developments that influenced these men, e.g. the Renaissance, the Reformation, the rise of science and other important intellectual developments.

PHIL 107: CONTEMPORARY PHILOSOPHY, 3 credit hrs.
A study of the major philosophers of the late 19th century and the 20th century. Such philosophical movements as Pragmatism, Idealism, Existentialism and Analytic Philosophy are examined, with an emphasis on the social and intellectual developments that influenced them: developments that followed from the work of such men as Darwin, Marx and Freud.

PHIL 109: AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY, 3 credit hrs.
A study of the central texts and ideas of American philosophy from transcendentalism in the nineteenth century to pragmatism in the twentieth, with special emphasis on Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, William James, John Dewey, Nelson Goodman and Richard Rorty.

PHIL 110: PHENOMENOLOGY & EXISTENTIALISM, 3 credit hrs.
Contemporary continental philosophy is home to vibrant discussions about ethics, politics, art, life, and the meaning of the human experience. These contemporary discussions have their roots in the fields of existentialism and phenomenology, and in the work of scholars from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries such as Nietzsche, Heidegger, Sartre, and Levinas. This class will not only help you to learn about phenomenology and existentialism from a historical perspective but will encourage you to consider the relevance of these philosophies to daily life. Prereq: at least one PHIL course or consent of instructor.

PHIL 111: EASTERN PHILOSOPHY, 3 credit hrs.
An examination of the philosophical ideas contained within the core texts of Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, and Daoism, with special emphasis on the way in which Southeast Asian and East Asian "philosophies" challenge the commonplace Western distinction between philosophy and religion.

PHIL 114: SYMBOLIC LOGIC, 3 credit hrs.
Study of the concepts and techniques of modern formal logic, including axiomatic developments of the sentential calculus and an examination of the first-order predicate calculus in a system of natural deduction. Crosslisted with CS 114.

PHIL 117: HEALTH CARE ETHICS, 3 credit hrs.
This course is an introduction to issues ethics in healthcare, between healthcare professionsals and patients, between the state and its citizens, and with regard to individual decision-making. Topics discussed may be genetic technology, euthanasia, the concepts of disease and health, healthcare education, mind/body issues.

PHIL 118: FEMINIST ETHICS, 3 credit hrs.

PHIL 120: LANGUAGE & INTERPRETATION, 3 credit hrs.
This course serves as an introduction to recent philosophy of language in the Continental philosophical tradition as focused on the theme of textual interpretation. Philosophical movements to be considered include hermeneutics, deconstruction, semiotics, and critical theory.

PHIL 121: COMPARATIVE RELIGIONS, 3 credit hrs.
This class serves both as an introduction to the academic field of comparative religion and as an actual comparison of several of the world's religions with respect to some question or theme (which will vary from year to year).

PHIL 124: HEALTH AND SOCIAL JUSTICE, 3 credit hrs.
This course looks at the intersection of issues in health and social justice. As such, this course pulls from a number of different fields: politics, economics, sociology, philosophy, epidemiology, medicine, biology and anthropology (and probably some others). We will spend time looking at international health and justice as well as domestic issues of health and justice. In particular we will discuss the impact of the health of a population on economic and political justice and the impact of economic and political justice on the health of a population.

PHIL 125: PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION, 3 credit hrs.
This class serves as an introduction to the contemporary practice of philosophy of religion as well as an exercise in the comparative explanation and evaluation of religious reason-giving. Each year we will examine one particular set of religious ideas and reasons in several different religious traditions from a variety of disciplinary perspectives.

PHIL 126: THEORY OF KNOWLEDGE/BELIEF, 3 credit hrs.
Examination of significant issues in the theory of knowledge; such as the criteria of meaning and truth; a priori knowledge; knowing and sensing; and the problems of induction, memory and skepticism. Prereq.: One philosophy course.

PHIL 127: THEORIES OF REALITY, 3 credit hrs.
Discussion of selected metaphysical problems such as universals, materialism, causality, freedom, personal identity and the nature of metaphysical thinking. Prereq.: One philosophy course.

PHIL 128: LANGUAGE AND REALITY, 3 credit hrs.
An introduction to philosophy of language, linguistics, and semiotics focused on the issue of linguistic relativism, i.e., whether languages are significantly different, and if so, whether they shape significantly different views of reality. Examines evidence both in support of and against linguistic relativism, and then uses this evidence as a means of addressing the relationship between language and reality.

PHIL 129: PHILOSOPHY OF SCIENCE, 3 credit hrs.
Examination of the major topics and issues of contemporary philosophy of science, including (but not limited to) the demarcation criteria of science, the rationality and objectivity of scientific theories, the verification and falsification of scientific theories, and scientific realism and empiricism.

PHIL 130: MINDS, BRAINS, AND COMPUTERS, 3 credit hrs.
An introduction to philosophy of mind, focused on the nature of intentionality and consciousness, the relationship between mental and physical states, and the possibility of artificial intelligence.

PHIL 131: GREAT PHILOSOPHERS, 3 credit hrs.
Concentrated study of selected individuals and schools from the history of philosophy, such as Plato, Kant or Positivism. A student may receive credit for four semesters of this course. Prereq.: One philosophy course or instructor consent.

PHIL 136: THEORIES OF JUSTICE, 3 credit hrs.
Issues of distributive justice are frequently topics of passionate discussion with everyone agreeing that we ought to be just but also disagreeing about what criteria have to be met for justice to be achieved. Since the mid-twentieth century, philosophers have spent considerable time working to articulate and defend plausible theories of justice. This course focuses on close examination of several of these theories. Students will read primary texts, work to understand arguments presented in texts, apply the different theories to particular cases and evaluate the arguments.

PHIL 137: RIGHTS & RESPONSIBILITIES, 3 credit hrs.
Investigation of the philosophical questions regarding moral rights. Assuming that we have them, what are they? Why do we have them? Does the obsession with rights lead to a problematically individualistic culture? As we look at all of the questions, we will also be looking at the extent to which rights are connected with responsibilities.

PHIL 138: PHILOSOPHY OF ART, 3 credit hrs.
What is art? In this class, we will investigate four traditional definitions of art, apply these definitions to actual artworks, and try to come up with definitions of our own. We will learn about aesthetics and the philosophy of aft from both the analytic and continental philosophical traditions, and we will explore interdisciplinary connections with fields such as art criticism, literary theory, and studio arts.

PHIL 139: MORAL TRUTH, 3 credit hrs.
"Honesty is good." "Murder is wrong." Are these statements capable of being true or false similar to statements about astronomy or mathematics? Or are they expressions of personal taste or opinion similar to statements about whether chocolate is good? Or something else? More importantly, given our options for action, how do we decide to behave? This course is a study of the discussions about the meaning (or lack thereof) of moral statements in addition to discussions about moral reasoning. We discuss whether moral statement can be true or false, justified or unjustified and what implications on moral reasoning and theory follow from different answers. The purpose of this course is to continue development of critical thinking, speaking and writing skills as well as to familiarize students with 20th century discussions in analytic philosophy regarding the possibility and nature of moral truth and moral reasoning. Additionally, we will discuss in what way these highly theoretical discussions are relevant to everyday life and decisions or decision-making. By the end of the semester students should have a good understanding of the different positions taken and their associated arguments. Students should be capable of having intelligent and informed conversations on these topics with people who have not taken the class.

PHIL 140: NEUROSCIENCE & THE LAW, 3 credit hrs.
This course investigates assumptions about choice, responsibility, and punishment reflected in our legal system and considers the extent to which our growing knowledge of the brain may support or challenge those assumptions. The course also considers what kinds of changes to existing legal and public policy may be reasonably supported by this investigation.

PHIL 151: SELECTED TOPICS, 3 credit hrs.
A seminar approach to significant issues in contemporary philosophy. A student may receive credit for four semesters of this course. Junior or senior standing or consent of instructor.

PHIL 197: SENIOR CAPSTONE, 3 credit hrs.
The Senior Capstone course is a culminating course in which students will bring to bear their philosophical knowledge and skills to "do philosophy" in one area which furthering their knowledge and skills. Emphasis will be put on primary sources, individual research and creative work and collaborative work. All seniors will participate in a departmental presentation of their work at the end of the semester. The particular topic of study will be selected by the professor teaching the course. Limited to Senior Philosophy majors or permission of instructor.

PHIL 198: SEMINAR IN PHILOSOPHY, 1 to 6 credit hrs.

PHIL 199: INDEPENDENT STUDY, 1 to 3 credit hrs.

Religion Courses

REL 001: INTRODUCTION TO RELIGIOUS STUDY, 3 credit hrs.
Introduction to methods and topics in the study of religion, using materials from the Bible, classical literature and modern theology.

REL 003: INTRO TO WORLD RELIGIONS, 3 credit hrs.
Introduction to World Religions explores the sacred writings, traditions, and beliefs of the various religions of the world. The course investigates the diversity within religions and the lived experiences of participants in those religions.

REL 005: TOPICS RELIGIOUS STUDIES, 3 credit hrs.
This is a minicourse approach to topics of contemporary interest and relevance in the field of religious studies, as well as to topics related to religion in other disciplines. Each minicourse is a topic independent of the others.

REL 051: OLD TESTAMENT, 3 credit hrs.
A study of the literature and theological message of the Old Testament within the context of the history of the Israelite people.

REL 052: NEW TESTAMENT, 3 credit hrs.
A study of the literature and theological message of the New Testament within the context of early Christian history.

REL 053: LIFE & TEACHINGS OF JESUS, 3 credit hrs.
A reconstruction of the life and message of Jesus of Nazareth from the Gospels of the New Testament against the background of his Palestinian cultural and religious environment.

REL 062: RELIGIONS OF INDIA, 3 credit hrs.
This course serves as an introduction to the history of religious beliefs and practices in India (and to a lesser degree South East Asia and Tibet) with special attention to the religions of Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism, and Islam. It will make some effort also to observe the contemporary practice of some of these religions in the greater Des Moines area.

REL 064: INTRODUCTION TO BUDDHISM, 3 credit hrs.
This class will introduce you to the diverse traditions of Buddhism, with a focus on (1) how Buddhist traditions change in their historical transition from India to China and (2) contemporary manifestations of Buddhism in America. We will explore Buddhist perspectives on a variety of religious and philosophical questions of enduring human concern. Experiential learning components will focus on meditation practices and visits to local Buddhist temples and/or interactions with local practitioners (when available).

REL 088: TOPICS IN RELIGION, 3 credit hrs.
Open for any 3 hour course in religion open to sophomore, junior, and seniors. Prerequisites as specified by the professor.

REL 091: CONTEMPORARY ETHICAL PROBLEMS, 3 credit hrs.
Study of contemporary ethical problems from the perspective of philosophical and religious principles. Various sections of the course may specialize in different types of ethical problems. Crosslisted with Phil 091. May be used as part of Women's Studies Concentration.

REL 104: DEVELOPMENT OF WEST RELIGIONS, 3 credit hrs.
Study of major Western religious ideas and the historical contexts within which they have arisen. Prereq.: A religion course or PHIL 021.

REL 108: 20TH CENTURY AMERICAN RELIGIONS, 3 credit hrs.
Study of American religious and ethical movements that have been of paramount public interest in public news media. Particular emphasis on differences between authentic understanding and popular misconception. Prereq.: A religion course or PHIL 21.

REL 110: INTRODUCTION TO JUDAISM, 3 credit hrs.
An introductory study of the Jewish tradition from antiquity to today. Jewish history, thought, culture, life cycle, and ceremonies are examined. Contemporary Judaism is particularly emphasized. Sponsored by the Jewish Chautaqua Society.

REL 111: EASTERN PHILOSOPHY, 3 credit hrs.
An examination of the philosophical ideas contained within the core texts of Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, and Daoism, with special emphasis on the way in which Southeast Asian and East Asian "philosophies" challenge the commonplace Western distinction between philosophy and religion.

REL 113: JUDAISM-JESUS TIME, 3 credit hrs.
An in-depth study of first-century Judaism. The course examines Jewish belief, society and values during this critical time in history. The environment out of which early Christianity grew is explored, as well as commonalities and differences of the two faith traditions during this period. The historical Jesus is seen in his environment. The question of "How did Christianity arise from Judaism?" is answered. Sponsored by the Jewish Chautauqua Society.

REL 114: RELIGIONS OF DES MOINES, 3 credit hrs.
This course serves as an introduction to a particular religious tradition with an emphasis on how that tradition is practiced in the greater Des Moines area. Among the course requirements are frequent site visits to a local religious community and the facilitation of digital stories by and about that religious community.

REL 117: RELIGIOUS MODELS OF RESTORATIVE JUSTICE, 3 credit hrs.
This is a research-based seminar exploring the role religion can play in addressing the repercussions of social violence and injustice. Deep engagement of the history of South Africa, apartheid and the Truth and Reconciliation process will constitute the method we will use to understand the notion of restorative justice, which we then apply to U.S. contexts and case studies. This course is highly participatory and writing intensive. Students will be deeply involved in developing the research questions and agenda for the work we will do in the final third of the semester.

REL 118: RACE, RELIGION & CIVIC CULTURE, 3 credit hrs.
This course explores critical race theories that depict the ways is socially constructed and uses these to explore how religion has contributed to the construction of racial identities in select moments of U. S. History. We explore how religious activity and religious thought have created and maintained racial stratification, as well as how these have undermined stratification by fueling resistance movements for justice. The primary emphasis is on relations between white, African American and Native American communities.

REL 119: DEATH & DYING, 3 credit hrs.
This course is designed to explore death and human response to it, different circumstances and settings of dying, and issues of end-of-life choices, social justice, and bio- ethical dilemmas. We will consider the meanings of death from historical, societal, religious and personal perspectives, including how we adapt to loss through the grief process. A variety of resources will be used including guest speakers, a field trip, and videos.

REL 120: BLACK CHRSTIANITY & PROPHETIC POLITICS, 3 credit hrs.
This course will explore various forms of Black Christianity in their historical and cultural contexts and will identify the unique ways in which Black Christiantiy has contributed to democracy. Attention will be given to both what Black Christianity has said to the civic body, as well as to debates within the Black community. Manifestations of prophetic politics in the present will also be a significant focus, with particular attention given to the roles of Black Christianity in presidential campaigns. Opportunities will be created to explore the role that Black churches have played and continue to play in the Iowa (and Des Moines in particular) context.

REL 121: COMPARATIVE RELIGIONS, 3 credit hrs.
This class serves both as an introduction to the academic field of comparative religion and as an actual comparison of several of the world's religions with respect to some question or theme (which will vary from year to year).

REL 125: PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION, 3 credit hrs.
Thie class serves as an introduction to the contemporary practice of philosophy of religion as well as an exercise in the comparative explanation and evaluation of religious reason-giving. Each year we will examine one particular set of religious ideas and reasons in several different religious traditions from a variety of disciplinary perspectives.

REL 130: THE GLOBAL BIBLE, 3 credit hrs.
The Bible belongs to the people of the world... but the Bible has also been used to oppress and alienate the world's poor and disenfranchised. As the western colonial empires of the sixteenth through twentieth centuries collapsed and changed, scholars and local political leaders emphasized the dramatic effects the empires had on subjugated peoples. Empires affect the economy, political structures, and familial systems as well as religion, self-understanding, and ways of thinking. "The Global Bible" will explore the ways that empires have affected the composition of the biblical text, its transmission into colonized territories during the period of colonial expansion, and liberated, postcolonial readings of the Bible from previously colonized and oppressed groups.

REL 131: APOCALYPTIC AMERICA, 3 credit hrs.
The dramatic end of the current world order remains a fascination in American culture. From the Puritan desire to establish a Christian utopia prompting the return of Jesus and the expansionist mandates of Manifest Destiny to the Left Behind series, the Mayan Calendar, and Zombie films, many Americans continue to anticipate an imminent end of the world. American Apocalypse will examine this trend in popular culture by exploring the ancient religious documents and interpretations through history on which this vision is based. The role of the "Millennial Kingdom" in American history and culture will then enable students to analyze contemporary incarnations of the theme.

REL 137: APPRENTICESHIP IN MINISTRY, 1 to 3 credit hrs.
Observation of successful ministers in their professional tasks. May be repeated two additional semesters. Prereq.: Junior standing and religion major.

REL 140: ECOLOGICAL ETHICS, 3 credit hrs.
This course introduces students to the emerging field of environmental and ecological ethics and the spectrum of responses to the questions, issues, and dilemmas posed by the contemporary global ecological crisis. We examine fundamental issues such as how human beings should relate to the rest of nature, the historical roots of the ecological crisis, and the intersection of ecological and social justice issues in various responses to the ecological crisis. Prereq.: A religion course.

REL 150: PROPHETIC LITERATURE OF THE OLD TESTAMENT, 3 credit hrs.
A critical and exegetical study of the so-called prophetic books of the Old Testament. Major emphasis is on the moral, ethical and social teachings of the 8th century B.C. writers. The various types of "prophetic writing" are studied. Prereq.: REL 010, 051, 052 or 053.

REL 151: SELECTED TOPICS, 3 credit hrs.
In-depth study of a selected theologian or school of thought of major significance.

REL 153: INTRODUCTION TO CHRISTIAN THEOLOGY, 3 credit hrs.
An historical approach to the major theological doctrines and issues emergent in the patristic, reformation and modern eras, with an emphasis on western theological traditions and --from the Reformation forward--a focus on significant Protestant thinkers. We will explore the major streams in theological thought, particularly, the implications of certain theological conflicts to Christian communities. We will also focus on the relations between historical and social contexts and the particular developments that have taken place in Christian Theology.

REL 155: LIBERATION THEOLOGY, 3 credit hrs.
Study of the emerging field of liberation and feminist theologies as these disciplines are related to contemporary religious, social, and political issues in Latin America and North America. The course explores the relation between theological reflection, social context, and the social- political location of theologians. May be used as part of Women's Studies Concentration.

REL 185: CONTEMPORARY RELIGIOUS LIFE IN CENTRAL AMERICA, 3 credit hrs.
In this course, we will explore the particular religious landscape of Nicaragua and Costa Rica, including the range of expressions of religiosity (Christianity will be a significant focus). We will explore first hand the ways in which particular forms of religious understanding have informed particular kinds of political and social activity in both of these countries. We will pay particularly close attention to the differences and relationships between official institutional religious teachings and the religious sensibilities and practices of communities and laypeople (in the in-travel portion of the course, we will have the opportunity to meet with persons from an array of locations in this regard). Comparative analysis of the different religious formations of these two areas will be a primary consideration. Care will be taken to consider the importance of studying religious life in its appropriate historical and cultural context. Enrolled students must also register for SCSS 196, Sustainable Development in Central America.

REL 190: RESEARCH IN RELIGION, 1 to 4 credit hrs.
Prereq.: Consent of instructor.

REL 198: INDEPENDENT STUDY, 1 to 3 credit hrs.
Prereq.: Consent of instructor.

REL 199: SEMINAR IN RELIGION, 1 to 3 credit hrs.
Prereq.: Consent of instructor.

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