Religious Studies

http://uoregon.edu/~religion

Frederick Colby, Department Head
541-346-4971
541-346-4118 fax
311 Susan Campbell Hall
1294 University of Oregon
Eugene, Oregon 97403-1294
religion@uoregon.edu

The Department of Religious Studies offers courses about the teachings and practices of the world’s major religions from an academic perspective. Courses focus on the history and philosophy of religions including their origins, sacred texts, rituals and practices, beliefs, and subgroups. The courses provide a broad understanding of the nature and role of religion in the world’s many cultures, present and past, for students in all fields, as well as integrated programs for majors in religious studies.

The department annually sponsors two programs, the Ira E. Gaston Lecture in Christianity and the Distinguished Visiting Lecturer in Asian Religion, which bring eminent scholars to campus for lectures and seminars.

Preparation

The best high school or community college preparation for an undergraduate program in religious studies is a good general background in social science and the humanities.

Careers

An undergraduate major in religious studies can lead to graduate programs in religious studies—either academic or professional—as well as other related areas of graduate studies such as history, sociology, folklore, and various area studies (e.g., Middle East studies, East Asian languages and literatures).

Students with a bachelor of arts in religious studies have had success in various professional fields such as religion, journalism, social work, education, business, and law.

Graduate Studies

In the absence of a graduate program, students may work with faculty members from religious studies as well as other university departments toward an interdisciplinary studies: individualized program master’s degree (MA or MS) focusing on religious studies, offered through the Graduate School. Information is available in the Graduate School section of this catalog.

Advanced Degrees in Other Departments

Faculty members in other departments may have a specialty or interest in the study of religion. Students interested in an advanced degree in these areas should apply for admission to graduate study in the relevant department. Prior contact with the faculty member is encouraged. The available degrees, faculty members, and area of specialty are listed below as a guide.

Department Degree(s) Specialty Faculty
Anthropology PhD (general anthropology MA presupposed) Comparative religions, religion and symbol in particular cultures Aletta Biersack, Carol T. Silverman
Asian Studies MA Buddhism in premodern Japan Andrew E. Goble (history)
East Asian religions Mark Unno (religious studies)
Religion and thought in premodern China Ina Asim (history)
Classics MA Classical civilization, ancient philosophy and religions in or related to ancient Greece and Rome Jeffrey M. Hurwit (art history), Mary K. Jaeger (classics), Steven Shankman (English), Malcolm Wilson (classics)
Folklore MA Carol T. Silverman (anthropology), Daniel N. Wojcik (English)
History MA, PhD Reformation David M. Luebke
History of Art and Architecture MA, PhD Buddhist art Charles H. Lachman
Japanese art Akiko Walley

Faculty

Faten Arfaoui, instructor (Arabic). BA, 2006, Ibn Charaf; MA, 2010, 2012, Texas Tech. (2014)

Judith R. Baskin, Philip H. Knight Professor. See Judaic Studies.

Frederick Colby, associate professor (Islam). BA, 1991, Haverford College; MA, 1995, Chicago; PhD, 2002, Duke. (2008)

Hanan Elsherif, instructor (Arabic). BA, 1993, MA, 2002, PhD, 2009, Minia. (2011)

Deborah A. Green, associate professor. See Judaic Studies.

Luke Habberstad, assistant professor. BA, 2003, Yale; MA, 2007, PhD, 2014, California, Berkeley. (2014)

David Hollenberg, associate professor (Arabic). BA, 1990, Wesleyan; MA, 1996, California, Santa Barbara; PhD, 2006, Pennsylvania. (2010)

David Reis, visiting assistant professor. BA, 1990, Santa Clara; MA, 1993, Creighton; MA, 1998, PhD, 1999, Claremont Graduate. (2007)

Andrew Riley, visiting assistant professor. See Judaic Studies.

Stephen J. Shoemaker, professor (history of Christianity). BA, 1991, Emory; MA, 1994, PhD, 1997, Duke. (2000)

Mark T. Unno, associate professor (East Asian religions, Buddhism). BA, 1987, Oberlin; MA, 1991, PhD, 1994, Stanford. (2000)

Emeriti

Hee-Jin Kim, professor emeritus. BA, 1957, MA, 1958, California, Berkeley; PhD, 1966, Claremont. (1973)

The date in parentheses at the end of each entry is the first year on the University of Oregon faculty.

Participating

Andrew E. Goble, history

Charles H. Lachman, history of art and architecture

Elizabeth Reis, women’s and gender studies

Akiko Walley, history of art and architecture

Anita M. Weiss, international studies

Daniel N. Wojcik, English

Undergraduate Studies

A bachelor of arts (BA) and a bachelor of science (BS) are degrees offered. A minor is also offered in religious studies and Arabic studies. Courses used to satisfy major and minor requirements must be taken for letter grades and passed with a mid-C or better.

Bachelor of Arts Degree Requirements

REL 101–102World Religions8
Electives in religious studies or additional courses8
Upper-division religious studies courses16
Upper-division courses (see Additional Courses list)12
Total Credits44

Additional Courses

Folklore
FLR 411/511Folklore and Religion4
FLR 483/583Folklore and Mythology of the British Isles4
History
HIST 320High Middle Ages in Europe4
HIST 321Late Middle Ages in Europe4
HIST 322The Crusades4
HIST 358American Jewish History4
HIST 441/54116th-Century European Reformations4
HIST 498/598Early Japanese Culture and Society: [Topic]4
History of Art and Architecture
ARH 387Chinese Buddhist Art4
International Studies
INTL 423/523Development and the Muslim World4
Judaic Studies
JDST 212Medieval and Early Modern Judaism4
JDST 213The Jewish Encounter with Modernity4
Philosophy
PHIL 320Philosophy of Religion4
Sociology
SOC 461/561Sociology of Religion4

Bachelor of Science Degree Requirements

REL 101–102World Religions8
Electives in religious studies or additional courses8
Upper-division religious studies courses16
Upper-division courses (see Additional Courses list)12
Total Credits44

Additional Courses

Folklore
FLR 411/511Folklore and Religion4
FLR 483/583Folklore and Mythology of the British Isles4
History
HIST 320High Middle Ages in Europe4
HIST 321Late Middle Ages in Europe4
HIST 322The Crusades4
HIST 358American Jewish History4
HIST 441/54116th-Century European Reformations4
HIST 498/598Early Japanese Culture and Society: [Topic]4
History of Art and Architecture
ARH 387Chinese Buddhist Art4
International Studies
INTL 423/523Development and the Muslim World4
Judaic Studies
JDST 212Medieval and Early Modern Judaism4
JDST 213The Jewish Encounter with Modernity4
Philosophy
PHIL 320Philosophy of Religion4
Sociology
SOC 461/561Sociology of Religion4

Honors in Religious Studies

Requirements for a degree with honors in religious studies typically include the following:

  1. Satisfaction of the requirements for a major
  2. A cumulative grade point average of 3.80 in courses taken to satisfy the major requirements
  3. Formal approval of the department

The candidate for honors shall request approval no later than the second week of fall term in the senior year. Students are strongly encouraged to meet with the undergraduate advisor before applying. Application forms are available in the department office.

A faculty committee supervises the honors thesis project. Candidates typically register for 3 credits of Research: [Topic] (REL 401) for both fall and winter terms of the senior year to prepare for writing the thesis. Contingent on satisfactory progress, the candidate then enrolls for 4 credits of Thesis (REL 403) spring term. A first draft of the thesis must be submitted six weeks before the end of spring term and the final draft two weeks after that.

Religious Studies Minor Requirements

REL 101World Religions: Asian Traditions4
REL 102World Religions: Near Eastern Traditions4
Religious studies courses8
Upper-division religious studies courses8
Total Credits24

Arabic Studies Minor Requirements

Category I: Third-Year Arabic
ARB 301–303Language and Culture12
Category II: Advanced Arabic
ARB 331Reading Classical Arabic4
ARB 431Islamic Political Thought4
Category III: Arabic Culture and Society
An elective from the following list:4
Special Studies: [Topic]
Comparative Comics
Studies in Contemporary Theory: [Topic] (Colonialism and Postcolonial Theory)
Cultural Intersections: [Topic] (Orientalism)
Studies in Identity: [Topic] (Multiculturalism and Empire)
Geography of the Middle East and North Africa
Special Studies: [Topic] (The Iraq War; Islamic Civilization I or II; Islam in the Modern World)
The Crusades
Special Studies: [Topic] (The Iraq War)
Special Studies: [Topic] (Islam and Global Forces)
Seminar: [Topic] (Militant Islam; Middle Eastern Politics; Development and Social Change in the Middle East)
Development and the Muslim World
Issues in International Communication: [Topic] (The Arab World and the Media)
Israelis and Palestinians
Special Studies: [Topic] (Egypt; Politics of the Middle East)
World Religions: Near Eastern Traditions
Introduction to Islam
History of Eastern Christianity
Introduction to the Qur'an
Islamic Mysticism: [Topic]
Advanced Study of the Qur’an: [Topic]
Multicultural Theater: [Topic] (Arab American Theater)
Total Credits24

Modified Requirements for Students with Prior Literacy in Arabic

Students who already have skills that satisfy the equivalent of the ARB 301–303 third-year sequence—whether from native proficiency, study abroad, or courses from another university—may choose to test out of one or more of these courses by passing a proficiency examination, administered by the UO Testing Center, designed to demonstrate basic literacy in Arabic. If students wish to transfer their third-year Arabic courses from other universities or from overseas study, they may do so contingent on the successful completion of an examination at the appropriate level, to ensure proper placement.

Students who pass the proficiency exam must still complete 24 credits for the minor in Arabic studies, including at least 12 from among Category II courses and up to 12 from among Category III electives.

Courses

Course usage information

ARB 101. First-Year Arabic. 5 Credits.

Introduction to Arabic with emphasis on speaking, reading, writing, and comprehension. Sequence with ARB 102, 103.

Course usage information

ARB 102. First-Year Arabic. 5 Credits.

Introduction to Arabic with emphasis on speaking, reading, writing, and comprehension. Sequence with ARB 101, 103.
Prereq: ARB 101.

Course usage information

ARB 103. First-Year Arabic. 5 Credits.

Introduction to Arabic with emphasis on speaking, reading, writing and comprehension. Sequence: ARB 101, 102
Prereq: ARB 102

Course usage information

ARB 199. Special Studies: [Topic]. 10 Credits.

Repeatable.

Course usage information

ARB 201. Second-Year Arabic. 5 Credits.

Development of Arabic speaking, reading, writing and comprehension; study of short literary and cultural materials. Sequence: ARB 202, 203.
Prereq: ARB 103 or equivalent.

Course usage information

ARB 202. Second-Year Arabic. 5 Credits.

Development of Arabic speaking, reading, writing, and comprehension; study of short literary and cultural materials. Sequence with ARB 201, 203.
Prereq: ARB 201 or equivalent.

Course usage information

ARB 203. Second-Year Arabic. 5 Credits.

Development of Arabic speaking, reading, writing, and comprehension; study of short literary and cultural materials. Sequence with ARB 201, 202.
Prereq: ARB 202 or equivalent.

Course usage information

ARB 253. Introduction to Arabic Culture. 4 Credits.

A survey of the linguistic, geographic, social, cultural, religious, political, and artistic aspects of the contemporary Arab world.

Course usage information

ARB 301. Language and Culture. 4 Credits.

Provides third-year-level Arabic proficiency and substantially adds to the vocabulary base. Activates and augments grammar structures of modern spoken Arabic, colloquial Egyptian Arabic, and the study of Arabic culture. Sequence: ARB 302, 303.
Prereq: ARB 203.

Course usage information

ARB 302. Language and Culture. 4 Credits.

Provides third-year-level Arabic proficiency and substantially adds to the vocabulary base. Activates and augments grammar structures of modern spoken Arabic, colloquial Egyptian Arabic, and the study of Arabic culture. Sequence: ARB 301, 303.
Prereq: ARB 301.

Course usage information

ARB 303. Language and Culture. 4 Credits.

Provides third-year-level Arabic proficiency and substantially adds to the vocabulary base. Activates and augments grammar structures of modern spoken Arabic, colloquial Egyptian Arabic, and the study of Arabic culture. Sequence: ARB 301, 302.
Prereq: ARB 302.

Course usage information

ARB 331. Reading Classical Arabic. 4 Credits.

Improves students' abilities to work with classical Arabic texts; serves as a gateway to other classical Arabic text courses.
Prereq: ARB 202 or equivalent.

Course usage information

ARB 353. Arab Cinema. 4 Credits.

Introduction to Arab cinema and culture through an examination of the development of cinema in Arabic-speaking countries. Offered alternate years.

Course usage information

ARB 399. Special Studies: [Topic]. 1-5 Credits.

Repeatable.

Course usage information

ARB 405. Reading and Conference: [Topic]. 1-5 Credits.

Repeatable.

Course usage information

ARB 407. Seminar: [Topic]. 1-5 Credits.

Repeatable.

Course usage information

ARB 409. Practicum: [Topic]. 1-5 Credits.

Repeatable.

Course usage information

ARB 410. Experimental Course: [Topic]. 1-5 Credits.

Repeatable.

Course usage information

ARB 431. Islamic Political Thought. 4 Credits.

Students improve skills at translating and analyzing Arabic texts while learning Islamic theories of governance. Close reading of primary sources from the 7th to 21st centuries.
Prereq: ARB 203.

Course usage information

ARB 507. Seminar: [Topic]. 1-5 Credits.

Repeatable.

Course usage information

ARB 510. Experimental Course: [Topic]. 1-5 Credits.

Repeatable.

Course usage information

ARB 531. Islamic Political Thought. 4 Credits.

Students improve skills at translating and analyzing Arabic texts while learning Islamic theories of governance. Close reading of primary sources from the 7th to 21st centuries.

Course usage information

ARB 605. Reading and Conference: [Topic]. 1-5 Credits.

Repeatable.

Courses

Course usage information

REL 101. World Religions: Asian Traditions. 4 Credits.

Introduction to related religious traditions of Asia, including Hinduism, Buddhism, Daoism, Confucianism and Shinto. Readings in sacred texts and scholarlary literature. Lecture, discussion.

Course usage information

REL 102. World Religions: Near Eastern Traditions. 4 Credits.

Introduction to the Abrahamic religions of Judaism, Christianity, Islam and to related traditions such as the Zoroastrian, Manichaean, Mandean, Baha'i. Lecture, discussion.

Course usage information

REL 199. Special Studies: [Topic]. 5 Credits.

Repeatable.

Course usage information

REL 211. Early Judaism. 4 Credits.

Development of the Jewish religion from its earliest existence until the Christian era.

Course usage information

REL 222. Introduction to the Bible I. 4 Credits.

Content and organization of the Hebrew scriptures (Old Testament); examination of scholarly methods and research tools used in biblical studies.

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REL 223. Introduction to the Bible II. 4 Credits.

Examination of the written traditions of early Christianity with an emphasis on the New Testament.

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REL 233. Introduction to Islam. 4 Credits.

Islamic religious tradition, beginnings to present. Pre-Islamic Arabia, Prophet Muhammed, pillars of Islam, ethics and piety, Sunni-Shiite divide, reform and renewal movements.

Course usage information

REL 302. Chinese Religions. 4 Credits.

Prehistoric roots of Chinese religion, Confucius and his followers, philosophical Taoism, Han Confucianism, religious Taoism, Chinese Buddhism, Neo-Confucianism, religion in China today.

Course usage information

REL 303. Japanese Religions. 4 Credits.

Early Shinto and its developments, Japanese Buddhism, transformation of Taoism and Confucianism, medieval Shinto, religion in the Tokugawa period, Nationalistic Shinto, folk religion, new religions.

Course usage information

REL 304. Religions of India. 4 Credits.

An introduction to the major religious traditions of the Indian subcontinent: Hinduism and Buddhism, and more briefly Sikhism and Jainism.

Course usage information

REL 317. Jesus and the Gospels. 4 Credits.

Considers early evidence for Jesus, including canonical and noncanonical gospels, in light of critical scholarship and historical reconstructions.

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REL 318. Women in Judaism. 4 Credits.

Women and their roles in Judaism; emphasis on early modern and contemporary eras. Texts read include historical, literary, and theoretical documents.

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REL 321. History of Christianity. 4 Credits.

Course of Christian history in East and West; relations between spirituality, doctrine, and institutional forms. Covers the ancient period, from the Apostolic Fathers to the Islamic conquests (90–650).

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REL 322. History of Christianity. 4 Credits.

Course of Christian history in East and West; relations between spirituality, doctrine, and institutional forms. Covers medieval Western Christianity, from the Germanic invasions to the Reformation (400–1500).

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REL 323. History of Christianity. 4 Credits.

Course of Christian history in East and West; relations between spirituality, doctrine, and institutional forms. Covers modern Western Christianity, from the Reformation to the present (1500 to the present).

Course usage information

REL 324. History of Eastern Christianity. 4 Credits.

Byzantine Christianity from the founding of the Christian Roman Empire to the Fall of Constantinople in the 15th century.

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REL 325. History of Eastern Christianity. 4 Credits.

The Eastern churches from the 15th century to the present.

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REL 335. Introduction to the Qur'an. 4 Credits.

An introduction to the nature of the Qur'an and the various ways it has been interpreted throughout history by both Muslims and non-Muslims.

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REL 353. Dark Self, East and West. 4 Credits.

Comparative examination of selfhood in Eastern and Western religious thought and cultural contexts. Focus on dark side or problematic dimensions of Buddhist, Christian, Daoist, Jewish, and other thought.

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REL 355. Mysticism. 4 Credits.

The experiential or mystical dimensions of the three major Abrahamic faiths. Exploration of the original writings of men and women from each spiritual tradition.

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REL 357. War, Terrorism, and Religion. 4 Credits.

Offers an examination of the theme of war, terrorism, and religion, focusing on cases of religiously motivated acts of violence in the contemporary era.

Course usage information

REL 399. Special Studies: [Topic]. 1-5 Credits.

Repeatable.

Course usage information

REL 401. Research: [Topic]. 1-4 Credits.

Repeatable.

Course usage information

REL 403. Thesis. 1-4 Credits.

Repeatable.

Course usage information

REL 405. Reading and Conference: [Topic]. 1-4 Credits.

Repeatable.

Course usage information

REL 407. Seminar: [Topic]. 1-4 Credits.

Repeatable.

Course usage information

REL 408. Colloquium: [Topic]. 1-4 Credits.

Repeatable.

Course usage information

REL 409. Supervised Tutoring. 1-4 Credits.

Repeatable.

Course usage information

REL 410. Experimental Course: [Topic]. 1-4 Credits.

Repeatable.

Course usage information

REL 412. Dead Sea Scrolls: [Topic]. 4 Credits.

Exploration of the Dead Sea Scrolls literature. Focus on either biblical texts and the development of the Hebrew Bible or nonbiblical texts and sectarian Judaism. Repeatable once when topic changes for a maximum of 8 credits.
Prereq: REL 211.

Course usage information

REL 414. Biblical Book: [Topic]. 4 Credits.

Close reading of one or more books of the Judeo-Christian Bible in literary, historical, and cultural contexts; history of interpretation; and critical scholarship. Repeatable twice when topic changes for a maximum of 12 credits.

Course usage information

REL 418. Martyrdom. 4 Credits.

Exploration of themes of sacrifice and martyrdom in ancient and medieval literatures of the Abrahamic traditions. Comparative approach to development of concepts within and across religious boundaries.

Course usage information

REL 420. Jewish and Christian Spiritual Autobiographies. 4 Credits.

Explores autobiographies written by Christians and Jews from late antiquity to the present. Emphasis on history of western spirituality and focus on Jewish and Christian religious commonalities and differences.

Course usage information

REL 424. Early and Medieval Christian Heresy. 4 Credits.

Survey of various heretical beliefs from early medieval Christian history; examines alternative visions of Christian truth, and the formation from heterodoxy of orthodoxy.

Course usage information

REL 426. Sex and Gender in Early Christianity. 4 Credits.

Study of how and why certain early Christians sought, successfully, to normalize certain interrelated cultural constructions of gender, the body, and sexuality.

Course usage information

REL 432. Islamic Mysticism: [Topic]. 4 Credits.

Inner dimensions of Islamic piety and righteousness, from the Koranic and prophetic foundations to principal thinkers in the medieval Arabic and Persian Sufi traditions. Repeatable twice for a maximum of 12 credits.

Course usage information

REL 435. Advanced Study of the Qur’an: [Topic]. 4 Credits.

Close reading of a section of the Qur’an in terms of its literary, historical, and cultural contexts, history of interpretation, and critical scholarship. Sequence with REL 335. Repeatable once for a maximum of 8 credits when topic changes.

Course usage information

REL 440. Readings in Buddhist Scriptures. 4 Credits.

Readings in representative scriptures in English translation. Selection based on their import in development of Indian Buddhist philosophy and their impact on evolution of East Asian forms of Buddhism.

Course usage information

REL 444. Medieval Japanese Buddhism. 4 Credits.

Medieval Japanese Buddhism of the 12th and 13th centuries. Examination of religious thought and cultural history including Zen and Pure Land.

Course usage information

REL 507. Seminar: [Topic]. 1-4 Credits.

Repeatable.

Course usage information

REL 508. Colloquium: [Topic]. 1-4 Credits.

Repeatable.

Course usage information

REL 510. Experimental Course: [Topic]. 1-4 Credits.

Repeatable.

Course usage information

REL 512. Dead Sea Scrolls: [Topic]. 4 Credits.

Exploration of the Dead Sea Scrolls literature. Focus on either biblical texts and the development of the Hebrew Bible or nonbiblical texts and sectarian Judaism. Repeatable once when topic changes for a maximum of 8 credits.

Course usage information

REL 514. Biblical Book: [Topic]. 4 Credits.

Close reading of one or more books of the Judeo-Christian Bible in literary, historical, and cultural contexts; history of interpretation; and critical scholarship. Repeatable twice when topic changes for a maximum of 12 credits.

Course usage information

REL 518. Martyrdom. 4 Credits.

Exploration of themes of sacrifice and martyrdom in ancient and medieval literatures of the Abrahamic traditions. Comparative approach to development of concepts within and across religious boundaries.

Course usage information

REL 520. Jewish and Christian Spiritual Autobiographies. 4 Credits.

Explores autobiographies written by Christians and Jews from late antiquity to the present. Emphasis on history of western spirituality and focus on Jewish and Christian religious commonalities and differences.

Course usage information

REL 524. Early and Medieval Christian Heresy. 4 Credits.

Survey of various heretical beliefs from early medieval Christian history; examines alternative visions of Christian Truth, and the formation from heterodoxy of orthodoxy.

Course usage information

REL 526. Sex and Gender in Early Christianity. 4 Credits.

Study of how and why certain early Christians sought, successfully, to normalize certain interrelated cultural constructions of gender, the body, and sexuality.

Course usage information

REL 532. Islamic Mysticism: [Topic]. 4 Credits.

Inner dimensions of Islamic piety and righteousness, from the Koranic and prophetic foundations to principal thinkers in the medieval Arabic and Persian Sufi traditions. Repeatable twice for a maximum of 12 credits.

Course usage information

REL 535. Advanced Study of the Qur’an: [Topic]. 4 Credits.

Close reading of a section of the Qur’an in terms of its literary, historical, and cultural contexts, history of interpretation, and critical scholarship. Repeatable once for a maximum of 8 credits when topic changes.

Course usage information

REL 540. Readings in Buddhist Scriptures. 4 Credits.

Readings in representative scriptures in English translation. Selection based on their import in development of Indian Buddhist philosophy and their impact on evolution of East Asian forms of Buddhism.

Course usage information

REL 544. Medieval Japanese Buddhism. 4 Credits.

Medieval Japanese Buddhism of the 12th and 13th centuries. Examination of religious thought and cultural history including Zen and Pure Land.

Course usage information

REL 605. Reading and Conference: [Topic]. 1-16 Credits.

Repeatable.

Course usage information

REL 608. Colloquium: [Topic]. 1-16 Credits.

Repeatable.

Course usage information

REL 609. Supervised Tutoring. 1-16 Credits.

Repeatable.