School of Religion

Current Course Offerings

This list is subject to revision. Schedules for courses that are co-taught with undergraduate courses will be available in June when the University releases the 2019-2020 Timetable. Courses that are for graduate students only will be scheduled after the University Timetable is released, and throughout the summer as instructor and student schedules are arranged.

Fall 2019

RELS 802 - Core Course II: Theory and Method in Religious Studies

Looks at recent articulations and applications of theories and methods in Religious Studies. 

RELS 821 - Greek and Roman Religions

This course focuses on the nature of the ‘mystery cults’ in the Greek and Roman periods. Using in-class activities in an interactive classrooms students will examine paintings depicting the raucous Dionysiac rites, compare the Persian Great Mother goddess with the Egyptian goddess Isis, recreate rituals from the cult of Mithras, and explore how Jewish and Christian groups were situated within the complex matrix of religious groupings. The data for doing all this and more will come from inscriptions, papyri documents, literary texts, and ancient art work.

RELS 822 - Yoga in India and the West

In this course we examine the multifaceted phenomenon of yoga in India and the West. We look at the history and philosophy of yoga, and at various beliefs and practices, through a study of representative texts deriving from the Hindu tradition (and, to a lesser extent, Buddhism).  We also look at the modern phenomenon of what scholars call transnational Anglophone yoga, particularly as it is practiced in the West. The objective is to facilitate a systematic and critical investigation of yoga from the moment we encounter it in the Indian tradition up to the present day. There is also an 8 week yoga class where students at all levels can learn about postures (asana). 

RELS 840 - Religion and Democracy

There are intense debates going on about public presence of religion in Canada. This Course explores the relationship between religion and democracy through examining the role and place of religion in public sphere. Where is the divide line between the public and private spheres? Do they have fixed or shifting boundaries? Is public sphere a uniformed space with uniformed expectation with regard to religious presence? Is separation of church and state an intrinsic part of the definition of democracy? Does an actual separation of the two exist in any of longstanding democracies that we know? Are religions univocally democratic or nondemocratic?

These are some of the questions that the course will address through reading materials and class activities. Class activities are a part of the course aiming to improve students’ critical thinking abilities and analyzing skills related to theoretical discussions and case studies.  

RELS 841 - Spirituality, Secularity, and Non-Religion

You could say that every religious person is an atheist about someone else’s religion. So what does it really mean to define yourself in opposition to religion? For instance, the logo for the punk band Bad Religion is a “Crossbuster.” Why does crossing out the Christian cross get to stand in for opposition religion in general? If, as some claim, all religions are spiritual, but not all spiritualities are religious, then what precisely is being factored out by the designation of “Spiritual But Not Religious”? This course will explore problems like these by examining the televised antics of “the New Atheists,” sketch comedy parodies of “New Age” millennials, and journalistic examples of how many opposite things the word “secular” can mean. By the end, we’ll clarify the difference between atheist, agnostic, secular, nonreligious, and anti-religious, and track demographic trends among these groups in our own country.

RELS 887 - Problems in Ancient Mediterranean Religions*

In this course we will examine some of the main features of ancient Greek, Etruscan and Roman religion following a general chronological order. We will start with the development of Greek religion of the classical period and its relationship to the rise of the city-state, the emergence of communal spaces for religion (sanctuaries) and how those spaces functioned. Then we will treat key aspects of Greek religion in the following time periods, the distinctive features of Etruscan religion and divination, Roman religious experience and the new developments that emerged in the multi-cultural environment of the Roman Empire. Students will do a class presentation on a topic of their choice and write a research paper on the same topic.

RELS 888 - Critical Ethnography in the Study of Religion*

The course will engage in the theory and method of ethnography as it has been utilized in the study of religion. We will examine various ethnographic case studies, particularly as they interrogate questions of insider/outsider positionalities, as well as the ways in which identities such as gender, sexuality and race implicate research agendas, and resulting concerns of safety and trauma. 

RELS 897 - Judaism in the Modern Age

Judaism in the Modern Age: This course will focus on four major forces--Feminism, Politics, Rationalism, and Cultural Relativism--to explore how Modernity has transformed Judaism, and how Judaism has changed our understanding of what it means to be Modern. What happens when old stories and ways of life are confronted with a form of modernity? How do people respond? What can we learn from these responses?

Winter 2020

RELS 801 - Core Course I: Religion and Modernity*  

Examines the nature of religious transition in response to various pressures for religious change.

RELS 808 - Readings in Religion: Religion and Public Policy*

The intersections between religion and politics, religion and public policy, and religion and law have consistently produced heated debates and battles in the public sphere. These debates have not only sought to define what religion is, but also seek to limit what religion can be and what religion can do in public. Students in this class will read important case law in Canada and abroad, study key activist and social movements that have shaped the debate, and think about the path forward. The classes will be divided into lectures and student-led discussions. 

RELS 831 - Religion and Violence

Scarcely a day goes by when we don't read about world events tinged by religious violence. This course will provide students with the theoretical and historical background needed to understand the intersection of religion and violence. Through wide-ranging case studies, we will explore how and when religion becomes violent, how religion intertwines with political and ethnic conflicts, and whether there is something unique about religious violence. 

RELS 885 - Religious Fundamentalisms

Religious fundamentalism is a modern phenomenon not exclusive to any religion. In the past few decades, religious fundamentalist movements have been shaping new social,cultural and political norms in a predominately secular age. The course explores theoretical aspects and examines specific case studies across various religions and cultures.

RELS 886 - Religion and Technology*

This course looks at the main issues raised by the intersection of religion and human enhancement technologies. You will have the opportunity to probe the growing transhumanist movement and engage diverse religious perspectives. We will consider what it means to be human and where we want to go with technology that might make us “better.” Ethical issues including social justice and what it might mean to live forever will be debated. A forthcoming book on human enhancement technologies and religion will be explored. 


*restricted to graduate students

More information about our graduate courses can be found in the School of Graduate Studies Academic Calendar.