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Philosophy & Religion | Courses

Please see also AU Schedule of Classes from the Registrar.

Fall 2016 Course Offerings


PHIL-105 Western Philosophy
.001 MTh 11:20am - 12:35pm Rhoad
.002 MTh 2:30pm - 3:45pm Marchiori
.003 TF 8:10am - 9:25am Sigrist
.004 TF 9:45am - 11am Mensah
.005 TF 11:20am - 12:35pm Weis
.006 TF 2:30pm - 3:45pm Mensah
.007 TF 4:05pm - 5:20pm Bassiri
This course is a historical introduction to the Western philosophical tradition. Students closely examine classic and contemporary texts on the nature of reality, truth, morality, goodness, and justice; the possibility of knowledge; faith, reason, and the existence of God; and the issue of freedom and determinism.

This course meets the General Education requirement for Foundation Area 2: "Traditions that Shape the Western World".

PHIL-200 Introduction to Logic
TF 11:20am - 12:35pm Mensah
Basic principles of formal deductive logic, both Aristotelian (syllogistics) and modern (propositional and predicate calculus), with some attention to informal logic also. Text and exercises supplemented by discussions on history, applications, and critical appraisal of different logical systems. No prior knowledge of mathematics is involved. This is the course recommended for pre-law students by Law School Admissions Deans.

PHIL-220 Moral Philosophy
 MTh 12:55pm - 2:10pm Stanescu
.002 MTh 8:20pm - 9:35pm Sigrist
.003 MTh 9:45am - 11:00am Abdullah
This course investigates the question of what it means to live a moral life. Examining major works in Western philosophy, issues discussed include moral goodness and evil, the nature of justice and rights, the relationship between morality and self-interest, the justification of moral judgments, relativism versus objective truth, the role of pleasure in the good life, and the meaning of character and virtue.

This course meets the General Education requirement for Foundation Area 2: "Traditions that Shape the Western World".

PHIL-235 Theories of Democracy and Human Rights
MTh 4:05PM-5:20PM Erfani, F
.002 MTh 8:20PM-9:35PM Cooke
This course analyzes traditional Western theories of democracy and rights, both separately and in relation to each other, as well as contemporary approaches such as Habermasian, post-modern, feminist, and critical race theory. It also considers the East-West debate on human rights.

This course meets the General Education requirement for Foundation Area 2: "Traditions that Shape the Western World".

PHIL-240 Ethics in the Professions
W 2:30PM-5:20PM Leighton, K.
This course provides a framework for thinking generally about ethics, and more specifically about professional ethics. In addition, it addresses ethical dilemmas that arise in the professions of government, law, business, medicine, the media, and the academy. Usually offered every term.

PHIL-380 Colloquium: The Wave

.002 Ellen Feder

Meets: 8:20 - 10:50pm on 9/7, 9/14, 9/28. Meets 1pm - 6pm 9/17

This semester we will focus on "The Wave," a pedagogical experiment intended to promote appreciation for the ease with which one may come to participate in moral wrong.

PHIL-396-001 Practicum in Ethics
TF 9:45am - 11:00am Bassiri

This course deepens students' understanding of ethical theories, facilitates the development of leadership skills, and provides a robust opportunity for experiential learning. It is also designed to support undergraduates to serve as Assistant Coaches for the DC Area High School Ethics Bowl. The course is composed of both in-class sessions on campus together with weekly meetings with the ethics bowl teams at area high schools.

PHIL-400/600-Ancient Philosophy
Th 5:30pm - 8:00pm Tschemplik
An examination of ancient Greek philosophy starting with the pre-Socratics and continuing through Plato, Aristotle, and the three major Hellenistic traditions: Epicureanism, Stoicism, and Skepticism.

Prerequisite: PHIL-105 or permission of instructor. 

PHIL-402/602- 19th Century Philosophy
TF 11:20am - 12:35pm Stam
This course covers major philosophers from the 19th century such as Hegel, Marx, Kierkegaard, and Nietzsche. Prerequisite: Phil 105 or permission of instructor.

PHIL-414/614 - American Philosophy
 T 5:30pm - 8:00pm Carr
This course covers classical American philosophers such as Charles Peirce, William James, and John Dewey. Alain Locke, an intellectual spokesperson for the Harlem Renaissance, and Neo-pragmatists such as Richard Rorty and Cornel West are also studied. Prerequisite: one introductory course in philosophy.

PHIL-420/620 Seminar on Ethical Theory
W 11:20am - 2:10pm Abdullah
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. Prerequisite: Phil 220

PHIL-425/625 Seminar on Modern Moral Problems
M 5:30pm - 8:00pm Leighton, K
Surveys a contemporary moral issue of the instructor's choosing and explores how philosophers have worked to understand and address this issue. Usually offered every spring.

The theme for this semester will be neuro-ethics.

Prerequisite: PHIL-220.

Existentialism Th 8:20pm - 10:50pm Erfani

This course focuses on 19th and 20th century existentialism, with a particular emphasis on the role of the imagination in creating one's identity. We will read philosophical works by Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Sartre, Heidegger, and de Beauvoir, as well as literary works by Camus, Dostoyevsky, and also Sartre.

.002 The Beautiful and the Good
W 11:20am - 2:10pm Tschemplik

PHIL-693 Global Ethics
W 5:30 pm –8:00 pm Stanescu
The integrative seminar for the MA in Ethics, Peace, and Global Affairs. Discusses ethics, ethical systems, and the presumptions of international relations from a critical, cross-cultural perspective.


RELG-105 Religious Heritage of the West
TF 12:55pm - 2:10pm Schaefer
.002 MTh 12:55pm - 2:10pm Bumbaugh
.003 MTh 2:30pm - 3:45pm Bumbaugh
The contribution religion to Western civilization. The eastern Mediterranean roots of Western religions, the emergence of Christianity in the Greco-Roman world, and the rise of Islam. The mature religious synthesis of Medieval Europe. Modern secularism's challenge to this tradition.

This course meets the General Education requirement for Foundation Area 2: "Traditions that Shape the Western World".

RELG-145 Religion Without Borders
.001 2:30pm - 3:45pm Oliver, M
.002 (UC) TF 4:05pm - 5:20pm Oliver, M

This course offers a different kind of introduction to the study of the world's major religious traditions. Rather than approaching each religion as an independent tradition that developed in a vacuum, this course looks at the ways that religions develop in conversation with one another. The course provides students with basic knowledge about specific traditions and equips them with tools for thinking about how they operate in our global age.

Gen ed Focus Area 3

RELG-185 The Religious Heritage of Asia
MTh 4:05 pm –5:20 pm Greenberg, G.
Introduces methods of studying religion and places religious traditions in comparative relief. Surveys the basic features of the major religions of Asia, including Hinduism, Taoism, and Confucianism, and explains how these traditions shape Asian cultures and societies. Usually offered every term.

This course meets the General Education requirement for Foundation Area 2: "Traditions that Shape the Western World".

RELG-225 Meaning and Purpose in the Arts
.001 TF 9:45am - 11:00am Pathak
.002 TF 12:55pm - 2:10pm Pathak
Leading theories of the nature, purpose, and meaning of artistic activities and objects examined through writings of major religious thinkers, philosophers, artists, and critics of ancient and modern times. Both Western and non-Western viewpoints are considered. Students projects apply critical ideas to particular works in an art form familiar to them.

This course meets the General Education requirement for Foundation Area 1: "The Creative Arts".

RELG-396 The Moor's Last Sigh
S 9/24 10:00AM-4:00PM Pathak
        Su 9/25 10:00AM-4:30PM

This two-day course centers on The Moor's Last Sigh, Salman Rushdie's modern mythological novel about a multicultural family's storied involvement in the Indian spice trade. After reading this novel before our course begins, we will discuss during this colloquium how Rushdie evokes epic themes, revisions colonial and postcolonial history, portrays religious pluralism, and imagines emigration and immigration.

Religion and Global Violence MTh 8:20pm - 9:35pm Greenberg

This globally-focused 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.

.002 Buddhist Ethics and Social Engagement
W 2:30pm - 5:20pm King

Study of Buddhist ethics as rooted in such ideas as karma, compassion and interdependence. The union of Buddhist spirituality and social ethics in the contemporary Engaged Buddhism of the Dalai Lama, Thich Nhat Hanh and others. How Buddhists nonviolently and nondualistically engage with such issues as peace-making, poverty and the environment.

General Education

PHIL-120 Do the Right Thing
MTh 9:45am - 11:00am Stanescu
TF 8:10am - 9:25am Bassiri
This course focuses on putting moral theory into practice, what many call applied ethics. While some major moral theories are put forward and discussed, significant attention is given to analysis of contemporary ethical and political problems.