Religious Studies

Below is a list of the papers provided as part of the Religious Studies strand.

RS710 Understanding Religious Studies (20 credits)
Level 7

This course provides an intense introduction to the discipline of religious studies, explores the key areas of the field, and focuses on the key questions religious studies seeks to answer. Students will also be introduced to the theoretical precursors of the field and discuss some of the key paradigms for research and analysis. 

RS711 Religion in Aotearoa (20 credits)
Level 7

Explore and examine the religious landscape of Aotearoa and the challenges it poses to Christian ministry. The focus will be on the intersection between religious pluralism and democracy, exploring both the historical and contemporary relationship between church and state in Aotearoa and the ways in which religious thought and practice have influenced, and been influenced by, the development of democracy. Participants have an opportunity to share their perspectives on the study of religion and to investigate the history and sociology of religion and the many religious majority and minority groups in the country. Participants visit local places of worship and examine films to provide context to classroom discussion. In addition, participants work with college faculty to develop, conduct, and present a related research project. This is a semester-long course.

RS712 Ecumenism in Aotearoa (20 credits)
Level 7

This course critically investigates the development and impact of the ecumenical movement globally and locally in Aotearoa, and re-examines its relevance and/or irrelevance to Aotearoa’s 21st century context. How much does the ecumenical values of oikoumeneand koinonia mean to churches today? What is the future of the ecumenical movement in Aotearoa? Is there an alternative to ecumenism for Christian churches? Participants will discuss questions such as these and will visit various churches. This is a semester-long course.

RS720 Apocalyptic Imagination (20 credits)
Level 7

This course will explore the origins and nature of apocalypticism. Beginning with apocalyptic thought in ancient Jewish writings (including the Books of Daniel and Ezekiel in the Hebrew Bible), we will explore the socio-historical context for ancient Jewish visionary ascent texts, early Christian apocalypses (including the Book of Revelation) and later interpretations and use of ancient “prophecy” concerning the end of the world. This course includes a close reading of ancient texts and an analysis of the apocalyptic imagination through popular literature and movies.

RS721 Religious Fundamentalism (20 credits)
Level 7

This course aims at understanding and comparing fundamentalist movements in Christianity, Islam, Judaism and Hinduism. Participants will examine the term “fundamentalism” as it has evolved from describing an American Protestant form of religiosity to signifying a global phenomenon spanning different religions and cultures. What is fundamentalism? How do religious fundamentalist describe themselves, how are they described by others? What are the grievances, ambitions and goals of “fundamentalists”? Can we differentiate between fundamentalist piety and religious extremism? In what ways have fundamentalist movements begun to intersect with ethnic, national and political identities? Do fundamentalists of different religious backgrounds share common world views? How do fundamentalists see humans interacting with divine commandments? What are the roles of men and women? Do fundamentalist principles legitimate new forms of religious violence?

RS722 Sex in/and the Bible (20 credits)
Level 7

This course deals with the dynamic interplay between how Christians have read and interpreted their Bibles on the one hand, and how they have understood sex and human sexuality on the other. Thus the questions that will drive our inquiry are fundamentally questions about interpretation. What does it mean to make the claim that a particular perspective on human sexual experience is ‘biblical’? How are we to understand the sheer variety of ways that a fixed set of canonical scriptural texts have been used as an authoritative resource for discussing and regulating sexual ethics, identity and practice? How do changing notions of what ‘sexuality’ is (and why sexuality matters) impact the way that biblical texts have been interpreted? We will explore these questions through the study of key texts in the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament and an examination of how these texts have been interpreted from antiquity to the present. Topics to be covered include marriage, gender identity, desire, same-sex relationships and sexual renunciation.

RS523/723 Let the Children Live!: Children, Youth and Church (15/20 credits)
Level 5/7

Violence against children and youth is a global epidemic that every society, and churches in particular, must acknowledge and address. Some of these acts of violence find justification in biblical stories or certain interpretations of those texts. This course will critically examine texts concerning children and youth in the Bible and scrutinises the way they are positioned in relation to power and access to resources. Seldom do we read texts from the perspectives of children and youth. Likewise, we rarely consider the interests of children and youth when it comes to decision making and program designing in churches. This course will take that perspective seriously and look for ways of reading texts and doing theology that are transformative and liberating for children and youth in the church and the wider community.

RS730 Liberation Theologies (20 credits)
Level 7

What is liberation theology? Who does it? Why is it important to the church? How do traditional theologians and critics respond to it? This introductory course will discuss the many strands of liberation theology from different global contexts. The focus will be on liberation theology’s methodologies, its relation to the social context, and its challenges to the theological discipline. The course is designed to introduce some of the classical texts of liberation theologies from different parts of the world and the works of a few key new critical thinkers; analyse some of the newer challenges to liberation theologies: cultural hermeneutics, postcolonial criticism, and globalization; develop the skills of contextual theological thinking and critique of traditional theology of the church and one’s own faith; and to equip students to learn and reflect on theology from an anti-racist and multicultural perspectives through both course contents and pedagogy.

RS631/731 Research Methodology (20 credits)
Level 6/7

This course is designed to equip students for research. The focus will be on research methodologies (both quantitative & qualitative), and that includes Pacific and Maori approaches to research. Research theorists and practitioners will be invited to share their research with special emphasis on methods employed. This course is open to a students, but is required for those intending to do a research project. Designing a research proposal is a key requirement for the course.

RS732 Special Topic: Voices at the Margins (20 credits)
Level 7

This course intentionally engages in critical reflection and action as it critically analyses and formulates practical theological and ministry outcomes arising from a place of marginality in the context of Aotearoa New Zealand. The examples of marginality focused on could be socio-economic, disability, sexuality, or other key areas of concern.

RS732 Special Topic: Weaving (in) Justice (20 credits)
Level 7

How might we weave justice into Aotearoa and Pasifika? And how might we weave in justice? In other words, how might life unfold in Aotearoa and Pasifika if justice is woven-with and woven-in public spaces? These questions point to two drives of this course: (1) weave justice with the minds and events of the public and (2) weaving justice in public spaces. This course takes weaving (whiri) as a metaphor and opportunity for religious and theological engagement, and explores ways in which justice (in its various nuances–equality, fairness, rightness, divine gift–and its many forms–political, relational, economic, environmental, etc) could be woven in(to) public struggles. The public struggles that will be addressed include casteism, Islamophobia, racism, ethnocentrism, gender and sexual discrimination. Could weaving justice in(to) public spaces (in which society, community, church and academy are among its sectors) resolve these struggles? What else do we need to weave-in(to)-the-public in order to help us cope with life’s struggles?

RP750 Research Project in Religious Studies (40 credits)
Level 7

This option is for those who have completed the requirements for with an average B grade or above. The duration for the project is one full semester. A research proposal has to be approved by the Principal prior to conducting the research. The research project is equal to two 20-credit courses.

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