Arts & Humanities: Liberal Arts Course Descriptions

Graduate 2020-2021

REL 528 Addiction & Spiritual Life (3)
This course will explain how, despite the human capacity to create and to adapt, people and society can become vulnerable to attachments and thus to addictions. These pathological relationships have their source in the spiritual life. The student will study how the particular manifestations of addiction are intimate connected to systems which serve as the primary instructor on how to attain ultimate meaning and purpose in life.

REL 539 Seminar in Spirituality: Critical Issues in Human Sexuality (3)
New Course
This upper-level seminar in spirituality explores complex and critical issues of human sexuality. Students will reflect theologically on topics of sexuality, and identify resources to develop a spirituality oriented towards human flourishing. Instructor's permission required for non-majors.

REL 541 Issue in Pauline Theology (3)
A study of the content and background of the letters of the Apostle Paul. Emphasis will be placed upon Paul's life, the literary and rhetorical structure of his letters, and the specific theological and pastoral themes addressed in the letters. Particular attention will be given to the social context of Paul's Christian communities, and how it impacts his message to them. We will also explore the impact of these issues in contemporary pastoral ministry contexts.

REL 545 Women in Christianity (3)
This course will consider all of the dimensions and dynamics of the spiritually-potent women who have imagined and enfleshed the mission of Jesus. Using short readings, input, and reflective dialogue we will consider ideas shaped by the religious experience of women throughout Christian history. Theological themes to be explored will include God, Trinity, Redemption, Reconciliation, Sacrament and Discipleship.

REL 547 Seminar Systematic Theology I (3)
This seminar-style course investigates key areas in systematic Christian theology in their historical and contemporary development, including Christology, doctrine of God, pneumatology, ecclesiology, soteriology, theological anthropology, liturgy and sacraments, and revelation, doctrine, and creed. Particular attention is given to theological hermeneutics, analysis, and reflection.

REL 548 Seminar Systematic Theology II (3)
This seminar-style course investigates key areas in systematic Christian theology in their historical and contemporary development, including Christology, doctrine of God, pneumatology, ecclesiology, soteriology, theological anthropology, liturgy and sacraments, and revelation, doctrine, and creed. Particular attention is given to theological hermeneutics, analysis, and reflection.

REL 549 Roman Christianity (3)
This 3 credit hour course is designed to provide the student with on-site learning and experience of early Christianity in the city of Rome. This course takes place during Spring Break, and will require both pre and post assignments, meetings prior to the trip to Rome, participation in tours and lectures while in Rome and surrounding areas, and a follow up final paper due at the end of the Spring semester.

REL 563 Life Through Death (3)
Students in the graduate program in Spiritual and Pastoral Care are engaged in a three-fold process of increasing their self-understanding, deepening their capacity to minister to families throughout the life-cycle, and developing a theological perspective that is integrated with both personal and professional functioning. The human encounter with death and dying poses a significant challenge to persons as spiritual, psychological and social beings. By focusing in an in-depth manner on this issue, all three processes mentioned above are facilitated, and students are helped to develop increased competency to respond in a meaningful humane and theologically informed manner to these challenges.

REL 597 Special Topics (3)
Students explore a specific area of religion that deepens previous learning about themes related to world religion, spirituality, systematic theology, or the sociology of religion. The research is interdisciplinary and conducted in the context of a semester-long course, usually enhancing the graduate student's ability to develop the integrating project.

RPS 500 Coming to the Well,Theology of Ministry in a Changing World (3)
Jesus encountered the woman at the well under the sun's intense light. What was revealed was a new paradigm of service, relationality, and compassion. As disciple, the woman was drawn by the Spirit's coaxing into new horizons of care for her community. Like the woman of the gospel, we will use theological reflection informed by contemporary pastoral theology to explore the dynamic and transformative intersection of God, ministry and minister. Theological themes of healing, suffering, forgiveness, growth, hope, and wellness will be covered. Flowing from a specific case study or ministry context, students will craft a comprehensive theology of ministry.

RPS 504 Personal Spirituality (3)
The principles and methods of the development of a personal spirituality using the resources of both the Eastern and Western religious traditions. The incorporation of life experiences and decisions into religious growth.

RPS 506 Spirituality & Wellness (3)
Judeo-Christian spirituality is an "incarnational spirituality" at its core. In Genesis, God "walks in the garden" to encounter Adam and Eve. Moses first encounters God in a bush and his people are freed through natural plagues and physical death. The prophets see God's hand in the political-social-economic events of the day, and call people to live justly through it all. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is born as a human being to show us that the kingdom of God is among us in the here and now. In this spirituality, God enters the "natural world" to show us how to live as whole, healthy humans, through the exercising of our freedom of choice, our "Free Will," in accord with the Divine Will. This course will explore the connection between a deeply incarnational spirituality and "wellness," a state of wholeness mediated through the "divine challenge" of free will exercised "on earth as it is [archetypically] in heaven."

RPS 510 Socio-Ecological Dimensions of Pastoral Care (3)
This course examines the connection between pastoral care, human ecology, religion, and theology. This course will include an overview of contemporary pastoral care methodologies which attempt to embrace the whole person and their environment. Using a systems approach, we will examine pastoral care and spirituality through the lens of human ecology, the study of the interdependence of humans with all of nature. This course will consider pastoral care interventions that promote relationship building the environmental ethics, using the resources of the Christian tradition.

RPS 512 Pastoral Practicum (3-6)
The purpose of the Pastoral Practicum course is to enable students to develop theological understanding, professional skills, ministerial and pastoral competence, personal integration through practice in actual ministry and reflection upon that ministry and a depending spirituality of the pastoral caregiver.

RPS 514 Spirituality of Leadership (3)
This course explores the relationship between one's personal spirituality and effective leadership. Further, it considers leadership in the workplace as a personal calling. The course will explore one's innate desire for integrity of life, and will examine the common good as both the purpose of business, and as necessary for human development. The good habits of acting, known as virtues, will be considered. The application of virtue to practical situations in the workplace, and in the world at large, will allow the principles of Christian social teaching to be integrated with management theory.

RPS 526 Spirit of Johannine Literature (3)
This course will examine the major spiritual and theological themes and trends in Johannine study. Students will be introduced to the significant themes and theology of both the Gospel and the Epistles. Various approaches to the New Testament will be presented.

RPS 542 Critical Issues in Ethics (3)
One of the pastoral minister's many functions is to educate people in their faith, and one of the most challenging times this must be done is when a person is facing an important ethical decision. Poignant ethical questions face us every day and for many people they pose significant challenges of faith. In this course, we explore the field of Catholic theological ethics. Students will examine the foundations of the Church's ethical tradition and propose a "code of ethics" for the pastoral minister. We then explore a number of "critical issues" from three primary topic areas: social ethics, sexual ethics, and medical ethics. The overall purpose of this course is to offer the pastoral minister 1) knowledge of what the Roman Catholic Church teaches concerning pressing ethical issues, as well as why it teaches what it does; and 2) a foundation upon which to draw when faced with the question "What should I do?" in light of a particular ethical dilemma.

RPS 546 Exploring the Sacred (3)
This course seeks to explore the ways in which we may encounter the sacred in our lived experience, rather than in formal creeds or religious institutions. Students will examine the spiritual/sacred dimensions of their world by looking through a variety of different lenses, and using the tools of several different disciplines to bring those experiences into focus. Students can expect to develop a clearer understanding of the experience of the sacred, by exploring their own stories, and the stories of others as those are presented in both sacred and secular texts. The course will pay special attention to the significance that culture has in shaping and interpreting the experience of the sacred, and the variety of responses that may emerge out of this experience.

RPS 547 Christian Social Justice (3)
This course will acquaint students with both concrete efforts by Christians in support of social justice and with the Christian premises that underlie these efforts. Topics include economic justice, religious liberty and church-state relations, rights of women and minorities, war and peace, pro-life issues, and environmental ethics.

RPS 549 Theology of Church (3)
New Course
Theological models of the church and the theology of Vatican II will be reviewed. Beginning with the Hebrew notion of "A People Gathered" and ending with an in-depth study of models of church, this course examines the social, religious, and spiritual elements of church.

RPS 557 World Religions (3)
The core question that people have asked from the beginning of reflective thought can be summed up in one sentence: What is the meaning or purpose of my life? In a world filled with conflict and war, in a country held bound by consumerism and fear, the answers provided by some of the major world religions can show us ways to live a vibrant life. Pre-supposing a basic Christian grounding of the majority of class participants, we will study the age-old wisdom found in Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, Judaism and Islam, with emphasis on how this knowledge can energize us to become peacemakers and healers of our global home.

RPS 560 Pastoral Care & Counseling (3)
This course helps students develop the skills that will allow them to minister to individuals, couples or family systems in distress. Students will learn how to develop a "helping relationship" that will support efforts at care and counseling, and to use basic helping skills informed by an understanding of personal, marital and family dynamics. The fundamental components of the helping relationship will be defined as active listening, engagement, empathy, and challenging. Students will deepen their ability to practice and apply these skills in a manner that promotes healing and growth within the persons and the systems those persons are involved in. Students taking this course should not expect to emerge from it as marital and family therapists. Rather, they will develop skills that will help them engage others in a manner that promotes spiritual and emotional growth and change, and facilitates and supports people getting whatever further help may be needed. Students in this course will reflect on the "pastoral" nature of what they are doing as helpers, by becoming clearer that the perspectives they bring to the counseling relationship are not derived only from particular psychological points of view, but also from their sense of themselves as pastoral persons engaged in acts of ministry, and therefore, from their theology and spirituality.

RPS 566 A Land Where You Can Eat: Sustainable Foodways & Christian Spirituality (3)
This course examines food production, distribution, and consumption using practical theological method. Students develop a spirituality of just food, paying special attention to social structures and individual choices that promote and/or inhibit sustainable foodways.

RPS 567 Healing and Loving Creation:An Ecological Spirituality for Our Time (3)
Discipleship in our modern world increasingly necessitates an ecological commitment to embrace a green lifestyle. God's fidelity to "renew the face of Earth" as a planet of peace and compassion inspires new ways of thinking about and responding to the dignity of all creation. We will consider the contemplative encounter with God in nature that compels us to embrace our potential as co-creators, loving and healing Earth.

RPS 568 Bringing about a Sustainable Reign of God (3)
This course explores why we are called to live more sustainably and gives practical ways to live that are more in keeping with Gospel teaching. We will look at the signs of times in which we are now living and apply Jesus' message of love and compassion towards all of God's creation. We will also look at ways in which we can spread this message to others.

RPS 569 Environmental Ethics:A Call to Conscience in a Time of Climate Change (3)
In a time when the adverse effects of anthropogenic climate change are beginning to be felt, this course will examine how to respond to a call to conscience from a Catholic theological perspective. We will explore the principles of faith and reason and the resources of the Catholic tradition regarding stewardship, the common good, and the option for the poor and vulnerable as they relate to climate change. In analyzing contemporary environmental problems, we will engage in dialogue in order to seek personal and social courses of action to care for creation.

RPS 571 Disabling Theology (3)
New Course
Using a practical theological method that dialogues between theology and experience, this course explores the social injustice of ableism, as well as the search for the common good, in relationship to persons who are differently abled in body, mind, and/or psyche. Particular attention is paid to theological resources and their personal and professional implications for ministry.

RPS 572 Hands Up, Don't Shoot:Practical Theology for Racial Justice (3)
New Course
This course examines the social injustices of racism and ethnocentrism from theological perspectives. Methods of practical theology are used to develop reflexive theological habits for critical analysis and social action.

RPS 575 Integrating Project (3)
The subject of the integrating project is the research, design, implementation, and evaluation of a pastoral ministry area based on the learning accomplished in the program. This component is designed to be a synthesizing experience, which blends theory with practice and academic studies with work experience. The final project is linked as closely as possible to the student's present or projected ministry. The student will complete the project under the supervision of program faculty. The thesis paper will integrate and reflect the spiritual and pastoral care and theological learning from the curriculum.

RPS 590 Appalachian Culture and Spirituality (3)
This course will be a field experience in the Appalachian Mountains in Kentucky and will focus on understanding Appalachian lifestyle, behavior, and family, social, ecological, and political systems. Students will experience the richness of mountain life through Appalachian educators, artisans, and leaders.

RPS 591 Cherokee Culture & Spirituality (3)
This course is about what has gone well for the Native Americans as people of faith, people of hope and people of determination. The Cherokee have dealt with the developing tourism industry that surrounds them in the Smokey Mountains, while stewarding the resources of the area with grace and wisdom. The Cherokee natives share the value of relationship, spiritual and artistic heritage and living with the consequences of the Trail of Tears.

RPS 599 Special Topics (1-3)
This course is graduate research study in completion of the Integrating Project.

RPS 603 History of Spirituality (3)
New Course
This course examines the development of Christian Spirituality from the post-apostolic age to the present through analysis of the key texts and figures in Christian history. The student will be exposed to those texts and authors who were most influential in shaping Christian spirituality and the understanding of the spiritual life throughout Christian history, and will gain an understanding of those texts within their historical and cultural contexts. Emphasis will also be placed on the differences between male and female interpretations of Christian spirituality, as well as the differences between monastic/clerical spirituality and the spirituality of the laity, and how this has shaped Christian self-understanding.