Academic Offerings

Academic Offerings in Religion and Ethics

Many academic offerings at Stanford address matters of religion: sacred texts and commentaries, religious thought (including cosmologies, philosophies, theologies), rituals and ceremonies, histories of religious groups, ethics, psychology and anthropology of religion, etc.  Check course listings under Religious Studies, Jewish Studies, Classics, History, Feminist Studies, Ethics in Society, Urban Studies, Modern Thought and Literature, Art, African American Studies, Political Science, Philosophy, English, Psychology, Anthropology, and Sociology, among others.  Relevant graduate-level course offerings are also found in several of the Schools (e.g., Humanities and Sciences, Education, Medicine, Law, and Business).

ATHLETIC 188 (Athletics and Identity)

Athletic Participation and Identity Development
Instructor: Rev. Joanne Sanders
Offered in Fall Quarter ’12 and ’13   This course is currently on hiatus

This class provides an overview of identity development theory related to religious/spiritual identity development, gender and sexuality identity development, racial and cultural identity development, ethical and moral development, and the development of leadership, meaning and purpose. It will explore the ways in which athletic participation affects and contributes to each one of these developmental areas. This course will also examine each of these topics in a larger context by discussing relevant current issues and events in sport.

ARTH26 (Continuing Studies: Liberal Arts & Sciences)

English Cathedrals: Spaces of Wonder, Worship, Music and Solace
Instructor: Rev. Professor Jane Shaw
Offered in Winter Quarter ’16 

Cathedrals are places of architectural wonder, grand worship, and spiritual solace; they are also centers of the arts and learning, and homes of extraordinary choral music. We will begin the course by looking at medieval cathedrals as centers of learning and pilgrimage in the Middle Ages, studying both the great monastic cathedrals such as Westminster Abbey, and the “collegiate” cathedrals like Salisbury. We will trace the fate of cathedrals at the Reformation and the rise of choral music as an essential ingredient in the two main services of Thomas Cranmer’s Book of Common Prayer: Morning and Evening Prayer. We will look at the first “purpose-built” Anglican cathedral: St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, designed by Christopher Wren and built after the 1666 Great Fire of London. And we will see how cathedrals became “the thing to have” in the 19th century, both in the new industrial cities of England and around the British Empire. Novels by Anthony Trollope and Catherine Fox will give us a glimpse into life in the Cathedral Close. Throughout the course we will look at slides of the art and architecture of these remarkable buildings and listen to cathedral choral music from the 16th to the 21st century.

The course includes a ticket to the concert given by St. John’s College, Cambridge, in Stanford’s Memorial Church on Tuesday, March 29. This is one of the preeminent choirs in England, and they will be singing some of the music discussed in class.

FEMSTUD 109 (Feminist, Gender and Sexuality Studies)

Looking Back, Moving Forward: Raising Critical Awareness in Gender and Sports 
Instructors: Patti Hanlon-Baker & Rev.  Joanne Sanders
Class meetings: Tuesdays/Thursdays, 11:00-12:15 pm
Offered in Spring Quarter ’14   This course is currently on hiatus for Spring Quarter ’15

This course explores the fight for gender equality in sports through historical, cultural, and rhetorical lenses.

By looking at the history of women’s sports, as well as the current cultural values pertaining to athletic competition, we will seek ways to reframe discussions about men and women in the sports arena.

**The course will feature a number of outstanding guest speakers from professional, Olympic, and collegiate sports. Last year’s guests included Julie Foudy, Stanford alum, soccer legend, and sports commentator.

FEMGEN 139 (Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies/Jewish History Studies)

Rereading Judaism in the Light of Feminism
Instructor: Rabbi Patricia Karlin-Neumann
Offered in Spring Quarter ’15

During the past three decades, Jewish feminists have asked new questions of traditional rabbinic texts, Jewish law, history, and religious life and thought. Analysis of the legal and narrative texts, rituals, theology, and community to better understand contemporary Jewish life as influenced by feminism.

RELIGST28SI (Religious Studies)

Instructor: Rabbi Patricia Karlin-Neumann and Barbara Pitkin
Offered in Spring Quarter ’15

This student-initated course explores the intersections of faith, compassion, and happiness. Faculty speakers from across the campus provide theoretical perspectives from a range of disciplines and share personal insights about the nature of faith, compassion, and happiness and their relationship to one another and role in a meaningful life. Student organizers provide a forum for participant discussion and reflection on these important topics. As part of Stanford’s response to President Obama’s Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge, the course is a collaboration between the Office for Religious Life, the Department of Religious Studies, the Haas Center for Public Service, the McCoy Family Center for Ethics in Society, and the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education. Class meets on Tuesdays starting March 31, 12:00 pm. Location TBD. Open to the public.

RELIGST 143 (Religious Studies)

Instructor: Dean Jane Shaw
Offered in Spring Quarter ’15

Empathy is fashionable these days – whether in Silicon Valley or the latest neuroscience. There is a deep sense that we need to learn how to walk in the shoes of another. This course will trace the meaning and practice of empathy through Buddhist compassion; Christianity’s commandments to love our neighbor; Enlightenment moral philosophy; nineteenth-century aesthetics; and twenty-first century neuroscience. We will also explore how the arts – drama, novels, poetry, and the visual arts – especially enable us to understand and empathize with the other.


Religious Studies 28SI

Instructor: Steven P. Weitzman
Offered in Winter Quarter ’12

While most religious traditions make a distinction between believers and non-believers, some also posit a sense of responsibility to those outside the community, to ¿strangers¿ on the margins or beyond the boundaries of the group. This course is an attempt to explore how different religious traditions conceive of one’s obligation to the stranger-of how to treat the stranger, the foreigner, the outsider–and to relate such perspectives to the issue of how immigrants are treated in contemporary society. A collaboration of the Office for Religious Life, the Haas Center for Public Service and the Religious Studies department, and intended as a companion experience for Stanford’s response to President Obama’s Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge, the course will explore these issues in the light of a series of guest lectures from scholars of religion, law, sociology, cultural studies, education, and social justice and will aim to help students draw connections between religion (and non-belief) and one¿s role as a global citizen.

Urban Studies 126/Religious Studies 162

Spirituality and Nonviolent Social Transformation
Instructors:  Rabbi Patricia Karlin-Neumann (Lead), Rev. Joanne Sanders, Dr. Julia Reed
Offered in Winter Quarter ’12

A life of engagement in social transformation is often built on a foundation of spiritual and religious commitments.  Using case studies of several nonviolent social change agents–Rosa Parks in the civil rights movement in Montgomery, Alabama, Cesar Chavez in the labor movement and William Sloane Coffin in the peace movement, this course examines the theory and principles of nonviolence as well as the religious and spiritual underpinnings of their commitments.  The class will address social change, spirituality and religious traditions through films, texts and service. It will consider the religious and spiritual underpinnings of nonviolence, the streams that fed major nonviolent activists and the philosophers and theologians who influenced them.  Additionally, the course explores how social change happens in urban, rural and national arenas, how to stay buoyant over time while engaged in social transformation, and how some communities and organizations are living out nonviolent social transformation. There will be a service-learning component included, with placements in organizations engaged in social transformation.

Urban Studies 126 syllabus >>

Religious Studies 188A

Issues in Liberation: El Salvador
Instructors:  Thomas Sheehan
Course/Immersion travel assistants:  Rev. Joanne Sanders; Rev. Geoff Browning
Offered in Winter Quarter ’12

This course on El Salvador will include class time with texts and readings as well as lectures from professors through several disciplines including, but not limited to, Religious Studies, Human Biology, Political Science, and Latin  American Studies. We will study Liberation Theology and its impact on the life of Roman Catholic Archbishop Oscar Romero as well as its continuing legacy in the struggle for human rights in El Salvador. We will examine the history of trade and the effect of CAFTA on the socioeconomic situation. This class will also prepare students for an anticipated trip to El Salvador during spring break considering funding goals have been fully achieved.

Issues in Liberation: El Salvador Video

Pictures from last year’s El Salvador trip

Political Economy 349 (Graduate School of Business)

The Business World: Moral and Spiritual Inquiry through Literature
Instructor: Dean Scotty McLennan
Offered in Spring Quarter

This course uses novels and plays as a basis for examining the moral and spiritual aspects of business leadership and of the environment in which business is done. On the one hand literature is used as the basis for examining the character of business people, while on the other hand literature provides illumination of the cultural contexts of values and beliefs within which commercial activities take place in a global economy. The course is organized around the interplay of religious traditions and national identities. Classes are taught in a Socratic, discussion-based style, creating as much of a seminar atmosphere as possible. A two-text method is used, encouraging students to examine their own personal stories with as much care as the stories presented in the literature.

Spring Quarter ’10 Course Requirements >>
Spring Quarter ’10 Syllabus >>