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300-Level Interdisciplinary Course  
UI-336      Religion in America
Catalog Description

A historical study of the social, political and philosophical roles of religion in America.

Course Content

This course is a historical study of the social, political and philosophical roles of religion in America.


Religious symbol systems exist as one means of integrating personal experience with collective human experience. Within a given civilization, religious systems are interdependent with other social systems in fulfilling this function. The study of religion involves examination of the religious symbol system and its integration with the civilization as a whole.


The specific study of religion in America must take cognizance of the reciprocity between the civilization and the religious symbol system. The shape of American religion was determined, in large part, by the nature of American civilization. The prevailing democratic spirit in America gave rise to a religious system characterized by voluntarism and pluralism. This course examines the substantive nature of religion in light of the formation of American civilization and the functional role of religion within American civilization.

The overall strategy of the course takes the form of an ongoing dialogue between the symbol system and the civilization. The course seeks an answer to the question, "How has American civilization affected and been affected by religion?"

Nature of Course

The course includes a wide variety of learning experiences. In addition to the traditional reading and writing, students make site visits to various churches, synagogues, temples, mosques, and meeting houses; view video materials; participate in mock debates; and work on case studies.

Student Expectations
  1. Attend class regularly and participate in discussions.
  2. Complete two examinations: a midterm and a final.
  3. Complete two research essays.
  4. Conduct an interview and write a report.
  5. Complete a critique of three articles.
  6. Participate in small-group book discussion.
  7. Complete an optional premium assignment.

Students should have completed the lower division of the University Studies curriculum or have the consent of the instructor.



Credit Hours 3