Sociology of Religion
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STH TR 802: The Sociology of Religion
This course will introduce students to the basic ideas and methods with which sociologists have analyzed the relationship between religion and society. It will explore what it means to think about religious language, symbols, communities, and practices a social phenomenon. We will also explore the social processes at work in congregations and denominations, new religious movements and conversion, religious communal identity and ethnic conflict.
STH TR 820: Narrating Black Church Studies from the Margins
This course will examine trajectories of intellectual thought that have been missing, silenced, or marginalized in standard narratives of black church studies. Using critical race theory, we will explore counter-narratives that challenge prevailing ways of thinking about black church origins, theological and philosophical foundations, liberating discourses, and its representation in the public sphere. At the conclusion of the course, students will be equipped to reflect on the history, necessity, and trajectory of black church studies through the counter-narratives.
STH TR 830: Values and Practices in Developing Healthy Communities
Important theoretical and practical issues related to cross-cultural, governmental and nongovernmental and faith-based service work related to the practice of *Decent Care and its application in developing healthy communities will be surveyed. Structured according a developmental approach to health and health systems, students will be encouraged to think critically about and experience the application of values and assumptions undergirding health systems and structures of such service work as currently envisioned and practiced. Case studies, guest speakers, and multimedia offerings will enrich the context of informed disciplinary and cross disciplinary approaches. *Decent Care is a concept developed in the World Health Organization by the instructor. Decent Care bases the planning, delivery and evaluation of care on values that place individuals, in their social and cultural contexts, at the center of the caring process. The aims of decent care are to develop health systems around the primacy of persons in their own health care, and to build a bridge between the principles of human rights and the practice of medicine. By listening to and honoring the voices of the people care processes and models can be developed that respond to the needs of a community enabling human flourishing.
STH TR 840: American Evangelicalism: Conservative Protestants in the United States
Conservative Protestantism is a vital religious movement in North American life whose adherents make up roughly 25-35% of the American population. This course will introduce students to various streams of conservative Protestant movements- -Pentecostalism, Fundamentalism, and Neo-Evangelicalism--and their characteristic religious patterns. Taking an interdisciplinary approach with sociology as the lead discipline, students will explore the major theories that attempt to explain the vitality of these groups, examine their impact on various dimensions of social and political life, and assess the implications of the exportation of these distinctively American brands of religion abroad. The assumption that the study of Evangelicalism and its complexities in the U.S. context warrants deep and thoughtful study guides this course.
STH TR 850: Sociology of Congregational Life
The overarching goal of this class is to provide students with a working knowledge of group and organizational dynamics, using congregational life as a lens. Examining congregations, religious leaders, and laity through theories of group and organizational dynamics. This is a course about how congregations and congregational life is shaped - how the laity, pastoral staff, surrounding community, and organizational processes all shape congregations in specific ways. We will examine the ways in which societal factors impact congregations and congregational life. By the end of the semester, I expect students will have a working knowledge of group and organizational dynamics, as well as research methods to examine congregational conflicts from an individual, group, and societal level.
STH TR 900: Ethnographic Research
This seminar aims to train students in the understanding and application of ethnographic research methods. The research methods covered in this course are qualitative in nature, focusing on projects which require practitioners to go into the field and to analyze social spaces constructed, inhabited, and maintained by particular sets of social actors. The data in focus is less readily accessible via surveys, demographic analysis, and experimental designs. Course participants will, first of all, gain a broad understanding of the traditions related to ethnography, fieldwork, and qualitative research in the field of sociology. Secondly, participants will engage key debates in sociology related to the theories and methods of ethnographic work, ultimately developing research designs that most effectively fit personal projects in progress. Thirdly, participants will expand their techniques of data collection via guided field assignments and class interactions. Fourthly, participants will develop practices of research presentation that communicate findings in a compelling and insightful manner, with the aim of making findings accessible to a broader academic audience. Throughout the course, special attention will be given to the observation of how social boundaries are constructed and maintained in particular social settings.
STH TR 909: Sociology of Black Religions
This course will survey major classic and contemporary themes in social scientific studies of black religion in the 20th century in the United States. Students will interrogate, among other things, popular conceptions of black religion, the black church, and black religious experience.
STH TR 940: Advanced Seminar in Religion and Social Change
This seminar examines the relationship between religious ideas and practices and the world of micro and macro social change. It gives attention to both the conservative and radical potential within religion, as well as to the structures that either limit or facilitate the exercise of religious power. It covers both major theoretical perspectives and relevant research literature, with focused attention on a variety of historical and contemporary cases.
STH TR 964: Seminar in Social Theory and Religious Identity
This seminar will explore a variety of theoretical perspectives on the social formation of modern persons, asking how those insights inform an understanding of individual and collective religious identity. Students will also participate in field research focused on the intersection of religious and social identities.