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Skidmore College
Religious Studies Department



Number/Name Days/Times Credits Professor

RE 103R  Understanding Religions

An in-depth investigation of religion as a global, cross-cultural phenomenon. Religions situate human actors in relation to nonhuman agents, and yet scholars of religion view religion as a profoundly human activity -- as something “made” not by gods and spirits but by people. In our effort to study religion both critically and empathetically, we examine traditions from different times and places, and we engage scholarly approaches that help us to consider religion from different perspectives. This semester, we focus on Santeria/Lucumi, an Afro-Caribbean tradition that emerged from the transatlantic slave trade, and on Sikhism, which originated in the Punjab and has since become the world’s fifth largest religion.

Note: This course is offered as an Explorations in Religious Studies through Research.

Fulfills Humanistic Inquiry requirement; fulfills non-Western and Global Cultural Perspectives requirement.

12:20 - 1:40 & M  12:20-1:15





4 G. Spinner

RE 105W  American Gods: Religious Diversity in the U.S.

What is an “American” religion? What do people mean when they refer to the United States as a site of “religious diversity” or “religious freedom”? This course explores these questions, with special attention to how issues of religion are shaped by dynamics of race, gender, sexuality, and nation. Students will encounter key players in the religious history of the Americas and build a toolbox for interpreting the interplay of religion, culture, and politics more broadly.

Note: This course is offered as an Explorations in Religious Studies through Writing.

Fulfills Global Cultural Perspectives, Cultural Diversity and Humanistic Inquiry requirements; counts towards American Studies

Sec. 001: T/TH 12:40 - 2:00


Sec. 002: T/TH
3:40 - 5:30 

4 Prof. Prince

RE 217R  Health and Healing in Asian Religions

An exploration of Asian medical systems and practices including Yoga, Ayurveda, Indian Shamanism, and Traditional Chinese Medicine, all of which are grounded in the belief that the body is a microcosm of universal, macrocosmic processes. How do conceptualizations of disease affect our experience of it? Does the way we imagine disease reflect larger social processes, such as those based on gender or class? Students examine the religious underpinnings of the models of the body that people in China and India have used for centuries to heal from illness, maintain good health, and, in some cases, aspire to a state of super‐health that transcends the limitations of bodily existence altogether. We also consider how these traditions change when they are transmitted from Asia to the US under the rubric of “alternative health practices.”

Note: This course is offered as an Explorations in Religious Studies through Research.

Fulfills Humanistic Inquiry, Global Cultural Perspective, non-Western requirements. Counts toward Asian Studies.

T/TH  2:10-3:30 &  M  1:25-2:20 4 E. Kent

RE 221  Buddhism: An Introduction

An introductory survey of the Buddhist tradition, focusing on its history and development, key doctrines and practices, geographic spread, and cultural adaptations. Students will examine the intellectual and philosophical history of Buddhism in detail as well as explore how Buddhism functions as a living, practical tradition.

Fulfills Humanistic Inquiry and Global Cultural Perspective requirements. Counts toward Asian Studies.

9:40 - 11:00
3 B. Bogin

RE 225  Religion and Ecology

An exploration of the critical connections between religion and the natural environment. How do religious beliefs, symbol systems, and ritual behaviors shape human perceptions of, and interactions with, animals and the nonhuman environment? How might the perspectives, concepts and community-building power provided by religions help us to address specific local and global environmental concerns?  Using primary texts drawn from a variety of religious traditions, and writings from a broad spectrum of historical and contemporary naturalists, poets and theologians, the course will cover such topics as climate change denialism, ecofeminism, and religiously-engaged environmental activism.  In addition, we will analyze case studies that feature how people of faith have drawn on the ethical and theological resources of their traditions to reimagine our relationship to non-human nature – from the Native American – led water protectors movement at Standing Rock  to Pope Francis’ landmark encyclical, Laudato Si: On Care for Our Common Home. 

Fulfills Humanistic Inquiry and humanities requirement. Counts toward Environmental Studies.

11:10 - 12:30    
3 E. Kent

RE 230C  Native American Religious Freedom

An examination of the history of legal and cultural conflict over Indigenous peoples' sacred lands, mountains, waters, plant medicines, ceremonies, and graves in the United States with a focus on the 20th century. We will employ decolonial historical methods to explore the complexities of indigenous religious traditions and native peoples' ongoing struggles for religious freedom. Topics include the American Indian Religious Freedom Act (AIRFA), the Native American Church and the sacrament of peyote, the National Parks Service and native access to sacred sites, the Dakota Access Pipeline Protests, and the repatriation of Native American human remains, funerary and sacred objects.

Fulfills Humanistic Inquiry, Global Cultural Perspectives and humanities requirements. 

10:10 - 11:30
3 Prof. Prince

RE 230D   Religion and Society

What is the intersection between religion and social life, and what ought it to be? What conceptual and descriptive tools do we need in order to find out? People tend to make assumptions about religion, religion and society, religion and politics, religion and freedom, religion and science, etc. In this class, we think through these topics, in order to interrogate our own preconceptions and how they may facilitate or block our capacity to understand how social worlds emerge, unravel, and remake themselves. The work for the course is a series of exercises in which students consider the major research strategies employed by scholars of religion. Points of emphasis in Spring 2023 include: the politics of classification, histories of empire and colonialism, religion and capitalism, and feminist/queer approaches to the study of religion.

Fulfills Humanistic Inquiry and humanities requirement.

12:20 - 2:10   
4 L. Hulsether

RE 316  Organize! Solidarity in Theory and Practice

An exploration of the history, theory, and practice of grassroots organizing. Often the response to overwhelming systemic injustice -from climate change, to gender-based violence, to labor exploitation, to carceral terror--is to organize. But what is organizing? How is it different from activism or advocacy? What can today's organizers learn from grassroots social, religious, and political movements of the past? How do organizers navigate conflicts around strategy, leadership, and identity?  This interdisciplinary course explores these questions as live political and social questions worked out through practice and experimentation. Students gain familiarity with classic debates about organizing process, analyze how these questions manifest in lived contexts, and apply what they have learned to a concrete project of their own choosing.

Requires Instructor Permission.

Counts towards Gender Studies, Bridge Experience and Idea Lab.

TH  5:00-8:00pm 4 L. Hulsether

RE 321 Buddhism and the Body

An exploration of the ways that Buddhists have constructed, disciplined, despised, and venerated the human body. We will explore the Buddhist body in its various incarnations: the disciplined monastic body of monks and nuns; the hyper-masculine body of the Buddha; the sacred corpses of saints; the body given away in sacrifice; the body as marker of virtue, and vice;  the sexual body; the body transfigured in ritual; and the body analyzed and scrutinized in medical traditions.

Prerequisites: One course in Religious Studies OR one course in Gender Studies OR one course in Asian Studies.   

Note:  Fulfills non-Western and Humanities requirements; fulfills Humanistic Inquiry and Global Cultural Perspectives requirements. Counts toward Asian Studies and Gender Studies.  

9:10 - 11:00 
 4 R. Overbey