AU CORE Philosophy/Religion Courses

Habits of Mind

Cultural Inquiry

PHIL-211 Introduction to Asian Philosophy
RELG-145 Religion Without Borders
RELG-185: The Religious Heritage of Asia


Ethical Reasoning

PHIL-120 Do the Right Thing
PHIL-220 Moral Philosophy
RELG-220 Religious Ethics


Socio-Historical Inquiry

RELG-105 Religious Heritage of the West
RELG-245 Stories of South Asia

Writing and Information Literacy II

PHIL-235 Theories of Democracy

Quantitative Literacy II

PHIL-200 Introduction to Formal Logic

Diversity and Equity

PHIL-236: Ecological Justice: Ethics in a More-Than-Human World

PHIL-211: Introduction to Asian Philosophy 

2021 Summer & Fall Courses

Please find Summer and Fall 2021 course descriptions, sections, and times for PHIL and RELG courses in our OneDrive space. You can also view these on the Schedule of Classes.


RELG-4/675 Religion and Violence (Summer 2021)

This course explores the religious dimensions, both ideological and cultural, of political and military conflict. Themes include sacred geography and literature as grounds for bloodshed; the sanctity of race; martyrdom/terrorism; and pacifism. Empirical data is drawn from Germany, Lithuania, the Middle East, and the Balkans.

PHIL 4/602 Nineteenth Century European Philosophy

This course covers major philosophers from the nineteenth century such as Hegel, Marx, Kierkegaard, and Nietzsche.

PHIL 4/620 Seminar on Ethical Theory

Survey of the development of ethical theory in Western philosophy by analysis of major works in classical and contemporary moral philosophy. Issues investigated include the nature of the good and the right, the possibility of moral knowledge, the principles of individual virtue and social justice, the problems of ethical relativism and absolutism, and the foundations of modern conceptions of human rights.

PHIL 4/621 Latin American Philosophy

Critical examination of a range of Latin American ideas chosen to demonstrate the power, vitality, and usefulness of Latin American intellectual life for North American social and cultural issues. Among the topics we will explore are identity, marginality, bolivarismo, mexicanidad, mestizaje, critiques of power, role of ideology, feminism, Third World identity, social justice, liberation, culture in human psychology, indigenous peoples, and decolonial thought. Many course texts will be available on Canvas in both English translation and in the original Spanish. Students may write their papers in English or Spanish.

PHIL 4/623 Existentialism

This course focuses on nineteenth and twentieth century existentialism, with a particular emphasis on the role of imagination in creating one's identity. The class reads philosophical works by Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Sartre, Heidegger, and de Beauvoir, as well as literary works by Camus, Dostoyevsky and also Sartre.

PHIL 4/696 Teaching Ethics

This course introduces students to the theory and practice of engaged, ethical pedagogy. Topics include understanding and application of major ethical theories, the relationship between education and moral development, efficacy of pre-college philosophical instruction, and techniques for facilitating discussion to promote inclusive and equitable learning experiences. Students have the opportunity to put their learning into practice through American University's partnership with the National High School Ethics Bowl and can choose from a variety of assignments to support local high school teams as they practice for the DC Area High School Ethics Bowl. These include background research, case analysis, and in-person coaching to help teams work through ethical cases, logically analyze texts, and develop and present original, rigorous, well thought-out responses, and other projects that support the Ethics Bowl. Coaching placements are optional and vary based on student availability and team practice schedules.

PHIL 4/696 Trans Theory and Politics Across the Americas

This richly interdisciplinary course examines trans issues in a transnational context, focusing especially on North and South America. Drawing heavily from the fields of world languages and cultures, philosophy, and political theory, we explore contemporary transgender theory, politics, and cultural production across the Americas, relying almost entirely on the transgender scholars, activists, and artists producing and leading that work. After a critical exploration of terminological, methodological, and epistemological debates in transgender studies, we turn to address issues of race and ethnicity, legal documents and immigration, human rights, anti-discrimination policies, and administrative violence. We then close by reflecting on the power of history and story within transnational trans movements. Throughout the course, we pay special attention to the convergences and tensions between trans discourses and experiences in the US and Latin America. Over the course of this seminar, students develop a nuanced understanding not only of the challenges faced by specific transgender communities, but of the wisdom generated within those same communities. The course equips students with the analytical and conceptual tools to engage in critical epistemologies, to practice philosophical and cross-cultural analyses, and to attend to the nuances of language, law, and lived experience.

PHIL 693 Global Ethics

The integrative seminar for the MA in Ethics, Peace, and Human Rights. Discusses ethics, ethical systems, and the presuppositions of international relations from a critical, cross-cultural perspective. Completion and presentation of a major integrative research paper is required.

RELG-4/673 Hinduism

This course focuses on four phases in the development of Hinduism. Central to the study of each phase are close readings of selections from its main mythological and philosophical texts, which are considered in light of lived religious practices.

RELG 4/676 Religion and Black Bodies of Resistance

This course explores religion as it is embodied in the styles, rhythms, and practices of people of African descent in the Americas. Students examine African American encounters with systematic attempts to deny their humanity, and the manner in which they have embodied religion and spirituality, to create critical and perhaps invaluable models of resistance.

RELG 4/686 Mysticism

An introduction to the mystical literature of the world's great religious traditions: poetry, prayer, narrative and other writings from Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Taoist, Confucianist, and Native American traditions, deeply rooted in the religions from which they originated. The course explores what these mystical traditions have in common, their distinct teachings, and different metaphysical goals

RELG 4/686 Islam and Women: From the Sixth Century to the Present

This course examines the history and roles of women in pre-Islamic Arabia and within Islam from the time of the Prophet Muhammad to the present. We will consider the role of culture in women’s lives and in the treatment of women in the Qur’an and Qur’an interpretation, as well as within the Hadith and Shari’ah. We will also look at feminist movements within Islam. We will read the writings of scholars of gender in Islam such as Leila Ahmed, Kecia Ali, Lila Abu-Lughod, Fatima Mernissi, and others.