Courses Offered in the Fall Semester

Fall 2019 Philosophy Elective Courses

PHIL 213.01 (15663): Critical Reasoning & Argumentation


Schedule: Tue, Thu, 3:30–4:45 PM

Instructor: Dr. Guy Axtell

Description: This course is open to all students seeking to study argumentation, but may be of special interest to pre-law students and those considering graduate school and needed preparation for GRE, LSAT, or GMAT.

Catalog Course Description: This course aims at advanced student skills and dispositions in critical reasoning and argumentation. It moves from review of general critical thinking competencies applicable to thinking within all domains and subjects, to the introduction and study of more domain-specific competencies in legal, moral, and scientific reasoning.

For info contact Dr. Guy Axtell (

PHIL 305.01 (15666): Early Modern Philosophy


Schedule: Tue, Thu, 3:30–4:45 PM

Instructor: Dr. Glen T. Martin

Description: To understand ourselves, we must understand the thinkers who gave birth to our ways of thinking.

Prerequisites: Three credits hours of philosophy.

Catalog Course Description: Traces the development of Western philosophy from Descartes in the late-16th century through Hume in the mid-18th century. Emphasis is placed on the metaphysical and epistemological systems of such major philosophers as Descartes, Leibniz, Locke, and Hume. Note(s): Students who have received credit for PHIL 202 may not receive credit for PHIL 305.


PHIL 340.01 (15673): Symbolic Logic

Schedule: Mon, Wed, Fri, 12:00–12:50 PM

Instructor: Michael Zarella

Prerequisites: Three hours of philosophy or mathematics.

Catalog Course Description: This course in formal logic presents various methods and principles of symbolic logic for use in appraising arguments for validity and invalidity. Topics covered include truth tables, rules of inference, proof procedures, quantification theory, and the logic of relations.

PHIL 380.01 (15674): Aesthetics

Schedule: Mon, Wed, Fri, 10:00–10:50 AM

Instructor: Kathryn Shepard

Prerequisites: Three hours of philosophy.

Catalog Course Description: Explores various theories and philosophical issues concerning the nature of creativity and the nature and significance of art in all of its forms. Students engage in a critical examination of such questions as these: what exactly do we mean by a “work of art?” What is beauty? What is an aesthetic experience? How are aesthetic values related to other sorts of values? What sort of truth can be found in art?

Fall 2019 Religious Studies Elective Courses

RELN 203.01 (15691): Sacred Texts of the West


Schedule: Mon, Wed, Fri, 3:00–3:50 PM

Instructor: Ryan Lytton


  • What is a sacred text?
  • How are these texts used in various religions?
  • The Hebrew Bible, Christian New Testament, Book of Mormon and the Qur’an all share similar characters and stories. What can we learn from their differences?

Join Professor Ryan Lytton as he explores these ancient texts that continue to influence the world today.


Catalog Course Description: Through critical reading of selections from the Old Testament, the New Testament, and the Qur’an, students will become familiar with the content of these texts; students will engage in the critical interpretation of these sacred texts; and students will be introduced to the methods and theories that support the academic study of sacred texts and narratives. Not limited in historical context and scope, students will be introduced to the social and historical factors that influenced the development of each canon in its original context as well as examining how religious communities work to ensure the continued relevance of their sacred texts and narratives. Note(s): This course has been approved for Core Curriculum credit in Humanities.

RELN 205.01 (15694): Religion & Culture


Schedule: Tue, Thu, 9:30–10:45 AM

Instructor: Dr. Geoffrey Pollick

Descriptoion: What does religion look like when it comes into contact with the non-religious? What do scholars and everyday people mean when they differentiate between religious, secular, and spiritual phenomena? This course invites participants to consider the interaction between religion and culture through the lenses of theoretical reflection and concrete analysis. We will begin by developing rigorous understanding of several social theories of religion. In the second half of the semester, we will undertake an extended exploration of the cultural productions and social consequences of the commercialized spirituality empire cultivated by Oprah Winfrey. How do Oprah’s powerful mediations convene configurations of meaning that evoke religious character? What do her products and responses to them reveal about boundaries between “secular” and “religious” culture?

Catalog Course Description: This introduction to the social/scientific study of religion examines religion in its cultural context. Topics such as church and state, religion and race, secularization, and religion and economics are covered through historical cases from around the world. Major sociological theories of religion are considered. Note(s): This course has been approved for Core Curriculum credit in Social and Behavioral Sciences or Global Perspectives.

RELN 310.01 (15699): Exploring the Old Testament


Schedule: Mon, Wed, Fri, 9:00–9:50 AM

Instructor: Dr. Paul Thomas

Description: This course covers topics such as:

  • Historical background
  • Religious values and culture of ancient Israel/Ancient Near East
  • Old Testament conceptions of family, ethnicity, gender, and power
  • Historical development of monotheism
  • The problem of suffering
  • And more!

Catalog Course Descriptoon: In this course students utilize the methods which inform the study of the Old Testament to examine various themes that collectively inform Old Testament theology. The themes which formed the ideology of Israelite religion are given special consideration, including the development of the universal God, covenant, and prophetic conceptions of history. In addition, students examine how these ideological themes inform other aspects of the Old Testament, including the text’s presentation of identity, ethnicity, family, gender, the body, power, and the state. Each of these themes is explored within the context of the Old Testament and ancient Israelite society as well as by drawing comparisons with other ancient Near Eastern conceptions, where appropriate. Note(s): Students who have previously taken RELN 202 may not receive credit for RELN 310.

RELN 370.01 (15700): American Sects & Cults


Schedule: Mon, Wed, 5:00–6:15 PM

Instructor: Dr. Paul Thomas



  • What are they?
  • Why do people join?
  • Is brainwashing and mind control a thing?
  • Are they dangerous?
  • What’s up with Scientology?

Prerequisites: Three hours of religious studies. 

Catalog Course Description:  Investigates nonconventional religious groups in the United States, from colonial Quakers and Puritans to contemporary Scientology and the Church of Satan. Lectures will survey mainline religious and cultural trends salient to the appearance of sects and cults. Students will evaluate social/scientific theories on topics such as the mental health of leaders and followers, cult-related violence, conversion and defection, the law and deviant religions.

RELN 420.01 (15702): Religion & Film: Culture & Character


Schedule: Wed., 6:00–10:00 PM

Instructor: Dr. Kay K. Jordan

Prerequisite: Three hours of religious studies. 


  • Explore the relationship between religion and culture through films!!
  • Discover the way in which religion shapes character development!!
  • See how religious beliefs affect the lives of individuals!!

Catalog Course Description: Provides an opportunity for advanced study of a selected topic in religious studies. Examples of topics to be studied may include Zen Buddhism, goddesses, and the letters of Paul. The course may be taken up to three times with a different topic each time.