3 semester credits. This course is a survey of the different religions and philosophical systems of India, China, Japan, and Southeast Asia, including Hinduism, Jainism, Sikhism, Buddhism (Theravada, Mahayana, Vajrayana), Taoism, Confucianism, and Shinto. The course will examine a significant number of specific themes and concepts such as wisdom, virtue, liberation, enlightenment, yogic discipline, meditation, guru devotion, and ethical behaviour. Excerpts from important texts of covered traditions will be analyzed including The Upanishads, The Bhagavad Gita, the Tao Te Ching, The Dhammapada, and The Confucian Canon. The teachings and writings of influential contemporary spiritual leaders will also be discussed.
LARSER310 Eastern Religions and Philosophy
LARSHC240 History of Christianity
3 semester credits. This course will approach Christianity both as an institution and as an intellectual tradition from a historical point of view. Course topics will focus on the roots of Christianity, Christianity during the Roman Empire, the Medieval church, the Papacy, monasticism, the schism between the Western and Eastern Churches, the Protestant Reformation and the Counter-Reformation, as well as the challenges faced by contemporary Christianity. The course will include visits to churches and monasteries in Florence.
LARSHC244 History of Christianity - Service Learning
4 semester credits. This course will approach Christianity both as an institution and as an intellectual tradition from a historical point of view. Course topics will focus on the roots of Christianity, Christianity during the Roman Empire, the Medieval church, the Papacy, monasticism, the schism between the Western and Eastern Churches, the Protestant Reformation and the Counter-Reformation, as well as the challenges faced by contemporary Christianity. The course will include visits to churches and monasteries in Florence. This course includes service learning hours within the Florentine Community. Service learning is a method that incorporates intentional learning with service to the community, in which the service component functions as a reflection on classroom learning for all tasks performed. In addition to regular class hours, students will be involved in a volunteer project for the entire session that integrates them in the local community in order to remove barriers and gain a sense of social responsibility. The acquisition of new skills and knowledge obtained in the service learning environment outside the classroom will enrich the learning experience and contribute to personal and emotional growth, as well as cultural consciousness, to develop a greater sense of a global citizenship and sensitivity to the needs of others. Students are guided through the experience by the non-profit association supervisor and the service learning coordinator to enhance outcomes both inside and outside the classroom. The contribution to the association is not only crucial to a deeper understanding of course topics but also allows for a greater sense of belonging in the community, allowing for students to acquire a heightened awareness of emotional intelligence that enhances the classroom learning experience.
LARSJC250 Judaism, Christianity, and Islam
3 semester credits. This course is a comparative introduction to the three Abrahamic religions. They will be analyzed in relation to each other, highlighting both shared aspects and major points of difference. Specific themes and concepts will be discussed in relation to each one of them: the idea of God and afterlife, the importance of authority and tradition, worship and ritual, ethics, and material culture. Significant excerpts from the most important texts of each religion will also be discussed and compared.
LARSPG335 Popes: Glamour, Power, and Corruption
3 semester credits. This course examines the popes of the eras prior to the Counter-Reformation (1530-1560) with a focus on the Renaissance. The popes preceding the Catholic reformation were not only religious magistrates but involved in activities related to politics, the arts, culture, and commerce. Such involvement in extra-religious areas brought popes face to face with issues and contexts that had little to do with the moral and religious principles inherent to the primary role of the pope. Yet the ascension of power has always been aligned with the accumulation of fame and riches, values typically associated with and appreciated by the secular and anthropocentric Renaissance society. Values that, as a matter of fact, a pope was in theory to be detached from either completely or at least in a lesser degree of magnitude and visibility. Course topics will analyze the episodes of corruption and scandal associated with the popes from the Renaissance and latter periods who contributed to generating a perception of the Roman Catholic Church that was far from edifying.
LARSRC270 Religion: Conflict, Violence, and Peace
This course focuses on defining critical themes that are both created by religion and resolved by it. Historically religion has been always been a trigger for conflict but it has also been a means to build peace and reconcile. This course will study religious violence and examples of tension and conflict both in past and in modern society by examining specific cases. It will also explore models of peace used in different religions and representations of peace today. New religious movements, terrorism, symbols of violence and peace, and political elements will be explored. The justification of violent practices and tolerance are fundamental issues that concern religion and the future of religion and conflict will be analyzed and the possibility of finding peace will be debated. Prerequisites: Introduction to Religious Studies, or equivalent.
LARSRS150 Introduction to Religious Studies
3 semester credits. This course offers students an examination of different religious concepts and some of the methods used for studying religious behaviors and beliefs. The course has strong focus on the relationships between values and beliefs within different religions. Religious ethics, biomedicine, human sexuality, and social justice will be examined through the analysis of issues such as euthanasia, abortion, and poverty. The course will also study various festivals, rites, sacrifices, diets, and fasting practices of certain religions to better understand their backgrounds and cultural influences.
LARSRW320 Religion and Women
3 semester credits. This course will examine the presentation and position of women in major world religious traditions such as Christianity and Islam. Other religions, including pagan and neo-pagan cults and religions, will be introduced for comparative purposes. Much use will be made of religious texts, feminist criticism, and the study of the visual arts. Lectures will be enhanced by on-site teaching in Florence in order to examine the depiction of female saints in Italian art in the Medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque periods.
LARSSS330 Saints and Sinners
3 semester credits. History has demonstrated that saints would not have existed without sinners and vice versa. The course will examine the encounters and interrelationships between “saints” and “sinners” over the course of Italian history. In many cases, the Saint was also a former Sinner but rarely the other way around. The great Saint Augustine, for example, is a testament to former sinners as seen in his famous Confessions in which his vivid, at times red-light experiences as a young man are described and redeemed by a saintly life. The texts, at times, almost hint at a subtle vein of regret and faint whiffs of nostalgia for the “dolce vita” of Augstine’s past. The same can be said of Saint Francis, who was known for conducting a dissipated, playboy-oriented lifestyle in Assisi conveniently financed by his rich father Bernardone. In other cases, history has documented epic clashes between sinners and saints-to-be. Between the dying Lorenzo il Magnifico and the future saint Savonarola, for example, in which the latter refused to absolve the former who had refused to confess his sins. Saint Bellarmine, Galileo’s inquisitor, condemned the scientist for demonstrating the error of the Sacred Scripture regarding the geocentrism, demonstrating yet again a saint’s victory. Another topic that will be examined by the course is the posthumous redemption of sinners such as the Giuseppe Verdi’s Lady of the Camellias in La Traviata and the lovers Paolo and Francesca in Dante’s Divina Commedia.
LARSWR280 World Religions
3 semester credits. This is an introductory comparative study of the world's major religions including Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and the religions of China and Japan. The course will examine a significant number of specific themes in all religions studied: the nature of this world and universe, the relationship between the individual and the transcendent, ultimate reality, the meaning and goals of worldly life, the importance of worship and rituals, the importance of devotion to the master or guru, ethics, and human action. Excerpts from important texts of each tradition will be analyzed .