Religions of the World

Honors Section, Spring 2017
During the 2016 Summer Olympics, Apple released an ad featuring Maya Angelou‘s poem “Human Family.” She writes, “In minor ways we differ / in major we’re the same. I note the obvious differences / between each sort and type, but we are more alike, my friends, / than we are unalike but we are more alike, my friends, / than we are unalike.” It is a beautiful poem and an ad praised for diversity. But what if she is wrong? What if we are more unalike than alike? What if our differences are major and not minor to who we are? This class will explore that alternative idea. We will consider the significance of difference, disagreement, and debate in understanding religious diversity by embracing—rather than minimizing or erasing—our differences. (Syllabus; Course Schedule)

General Education/Liberal Arts Core, Spring 2017 (w/focus on Religious Literacy)
Religion shapes our world today in a variety of ways.  From our neighbors to news headlines, it is easy to see how important it is to understand of religions of the world. And yet, while many of us might consider religion important to us, we probably don’t know a whole lot about it outside of our own beliefs and practices. This phenomenon is why Max Muller, one of the first scholars of religion, said “he who knows one, knows none.” We can’t really say religion is important to us–or that we really understand religion–until we know more than our own traditions and customs. In fact, it is through the study of multiple religions and cultures that we can come to understand ourselves and the world around us. In this course, we will do just that. (Syllabus; Course Schedule)

Religion in America

Upper Division (focus on debating “Is America a Christian Nation?”), Spring 2017
This course is an investigation of religious movements, figures, beliefs, and practices from colonial times to present. Special attention will be given to the role of religion in shaping American culture and politics. Central our exploration of these topics will be way in which Americans have, at various moments in the nation’s history and from differing perspectives, understood the relationship between Christianity and America. Through continuous debate and discussion, we will consider: Is/Was America a Christian nation? This simple yet provocative question will open other doors of inquiry for us to consider how and why certain groups answer it one way and other groups answer it another way. It will also allow us to examine and analyze how and why America’s religious past can be so powerful in shaping American culture today. (Syllabus; Course Schedule)

Upper Division, focus on “American Religious Freedom,” Spring 2015
The purpose of this course is to study the broad history of religion in America and to research a more narrow topic within that history. Over the course of the semester, we will survey major movements, trends, and figures related to religion in the United States. Along the way, we will trace the historical and cultural development of the concept of “religious freedom” as a legal category, political tool, and social construct from the colonial era to the present. (Syllabus; Course Schedule)

Senior Seminar (a capstone, service-learning course for Religion majors), Fall 2016

The purpose of this course is for Religion students  to synthesize the content and skills learned through the major. Students will clarify and connect their achievements in the classroom to their life beyond college through two course concentrations. The first focuses on the study of religion in the classroom, a physical and mental space where students develop and reflect upon their knowledge and skills. The second focuses on the study of religion outside the classroom, where students apply the skill gained in their study of religion to their lives and community through a service. For this course, we are partners with EMBARC (Ethnic Minorities of Burma Advocacy and Resource Center), a grassroots, refugee-led nonprofit organization that helps ethnic minorities of Burma resettle in the Cedar Valley. (Syllabus)

UNI service learning project helps refugees, adds value to education,” Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier (December 12, 2016); re-printed in Cedar Valley Inclusion magazine (Spring/Summer 2017)

EMBARC Senior Seminar Service,” The Update: College of Arts, Humanities, & Sciences, no. 1 (2016-2017)

Religion and Politics

Global Christianity

U.S. and Global Islam (Honors)


World Religions

American Religious History

Islam in the Modern World


Introduction to Religion