Courses offered by LRC faculty fellows give SCU students direct experience of local religious and spiritual sites, communities, and practitioners, helping them to discover a lived understanding of the role of religion in Silicion Valley and beyond.
The greater Bay Area is often considered experimental regarding religion and is rich with examples of diverse religious commitments including Christian, Islamic, Buddhist, Hindu, and Sikh places of worship and community — and even secularism in the form of humanism and atheism. This puts Santa Clara University near the epicenter of this petri dish of religiosity as a reputable and well-respected place to research and learn about religion. As a multi-disciplinary department, Religious Studies offers a comprehensive approach to studying religion. “Ways of Understanding Religion” introduces students to social scientific and critical approaches to understanding religions and religious trends in the U.S. and globally. In the process, students will also reflect upon their own religious, spiritual, or non-religious backgrounds in relation to today's diverse religious traditions and anti-religious movements.
Introduces academic approaches to the study of religion as practiced by ordinary people in everyday life. Explores religion as living practice enacted through fashioning and controlling of religious bodies and identities; appropriation, production, circulation, and consumption of religious goods; social and political structuring of authority and resistance; cultivation and nurturing of domestic, social, economic and other relationships through religious frameworks; creation and maintenance of spaces understood as "sacred" or "spiritual," etc. Draws upon approaches from anthropology, cultural studies, and critical theory to research and reflect upon what religion allows people to know, think, and do in local Bay Area communities.
In this course, we will ask how a city, with its diverse arrays of people, neighborhoods, commercial and cultural districts, economic enclaves of wealth and poverty, affects how religion is practiced. How does religion, with its different conceptions of the sacred, of moral goodness, of justice, and the like affect a day-to-day life in a city? What tools can best help us to understand and map the ways in which urban life and religious practice intersect— inflecting, enriching, and challenging one another? How is being religious in an urban space different from being religious in a small town or rural community? How does a city itself redefine what it means to be religious? And, how does religious practice—formal and informal—shape an urban landscape?
Buddhism (RSOC 86)
Exploration of the whole Buddhist tradition, including Indian origins, Theravada traditions of Southeast Asia, Mahayana traditions of Central and East Asia and Buddhism in the West. Emphasis on cultural impact of religion, Buddhist philosophy and practice, and modernizing tradition. Prerequisite: Introductory level course (SCTR 1-19, TESP 1-19, or RSOC 1-19) or another course approved as fulfilling RTC 1 Core requirement.
Using early and American Christianity as examples, this class examines how various social forces shape the religious beliefs and practices of people of faith. In particular it draws on a number of sociological perspectives, looking both at their historical and philosophical underpinnings and at what they can tell us about religious growth, faith in the modern world, and religiously inspired social action.
Buddhism in America (RSOC 113)
Following a survey of Buddhist teachings and the history of the transmission of Buddhism in America, this course explores the diverse array of Buddhist groups in Silicon Valley. Prerequisite: Intermediate level course (SCTR 20-99, TESP 20-99, or RSOC 20-99) or another course approved as fulfilling the intermediate level Core requirement in Religious Studies and completion of 88 quarter units.
Religion and Ethnography (RSOC 116/ANTH 174)
This course examines what makes ethnography an ideal method for studying religion and religious cultures. How might participant-observation round out knowledge from research into written text and religious/social history? How does ethnography assist researchers in understanding the relationship between religious rites and kinship? In addition to learning about the "classics" in religion and ethnography, students may explore subdisciplines, such as visual ethnography and theological anthropology. The course discusses how the study of religion and ethnography might contribute to careers in journalism, filmmaking, and others. In hands-on independent projects, students practice taking field notes, writing ethnographic reports, and sharing their work with classmates.
Religions at Silicon Valley (RSOC 123)
Is something unique happening in the Valley's religious landscape? This seminar addresses that question through different perspectives on the Valley's culture, scholarly approaches to the Buddhist, Catholic, and Muslim experiences in America, and interactions with local congregations. Prerequisite: Intermediate level course (SCTR 20-99, TESP 20-99, or RSOC 20-99) or another course approved as fulfilling the intermediate level Core requirement in Religious Studies and completion of 88 qyarter units.
Architects of Solidarity (RSOC 135)
This course starts from the Jesuit claim to educate students for "solidarity for the real world." We explore what that might look like in different intellectual, cultural and faith traditions, asking how they frame issues like poverty, intolerance, suffering, marginality, globalization, etc. to inspire and justify action on behalf of others. Course requirements include field work with local organizations whose missions suggest we could learn something from them about what solidarity looks like in Silicon Valley. Prerequisite: Intermediate level course (SCTR 20-99, TESP 20-99, RSOC 20-99) or another course approved as fulfilling the intermediate level Core requirement in Religious Studies and completion of 88 quarter units. Note: This course requires participation in community-based learning (CBL) experiences off campus.
Religion, Gender and Globalization (RSOC 170/WGST 146)
Using feminist ethics as a framework, this course examines the ethical issues at the intersection of religion and globalization, and unpacks the implications of this intersection for women. Focuses on the human rights of women and examines ways in which globalization has affected, supported, or undermined the human rights of women and the role of religion in their lives.
Applies academic approaches to the study of religion as practiced by ordinary people in everyday life to explore the relationship between religion and urban development. Draws upon methods from anthropology, cultural studies, and critical theory to research and reflect upon what difference the presence or absense of religion in diverse forms makes in addressing the practical needs of local residents and communities. Students work with GIS mapping tools to gather and present ethnographic, demographic, and other information about the local religious landscape.