Academic Initiatives

Faith Traditions

The following courses address the theme of Faith Traditions, one of the seven institutional learning goals articulated in the Habits of Inquiry and Reflection (HIR). These courses are offered by the Department of Religious Studies.

Faith Traditions Course Sections for Fall 2019


REL-208-01 and 02: Faith Traditions, Islam Religious Traditions

TR 8-9:15 a.m. and TR 2-3:15 p.m.

CAP: XB: Faith Traditions and Diversity and Social Justice

Jusuf Salih

Islam as one of the three Abrahamic Traditions

This is a historical and topical survey of the origins and development of Islam. Special attention will be given to the life of the Prophet Muhammad and his Prophetic tradition, the main themes of the Qur'an, the development of the Muslim community and its principal institutions, theological and legal perceptions, differences of the major divisions within Islam, philosophical and mystical thoughts of Muslim community.

REL-228-01: Faith Traditions, Historical Encounters

MWF 10:10-11 a.m.

CAP: XB: Faith Traditions and Diversity and Social Justice

Michael Romero

Cultures in Collision: Catholic Missionaries in the Americas

This course will explore the missionary experience of primarily the Spanish Catholic friars and priests who came to the unexplored Americas attempting to Christianize the Native Peoples whom they encountered from the sixteenth through the nineteenth centuries. The main guiding question for the course is two parts: what did the missionaries hand-on to the people they were trying to Christianize, and what did the Native Peoples actually receive. The course focuses on the religious-cultural exchange between the two groups—not merely the traditional conquistador-centered narrative—relying on some primary sources from the missionaries themselves.

REL-228-02: Faith Traditions, Historical Encounters

MWF 12:20-1:10 p.m.

CAP: XB: Faith Traditions and Diversity and Social Justice

Anthony Rosselli

Pope Francis and Contemporary Catholicism

Since his election to the papacy in 2013, Pope Francis has captivated Catholics and non-Catholics alike with his spontaneity, humility, and compassion for the poor. At the same time, within the Church itself he has both initiated waves of renewal and provoked significant controversy. In many ways, Francis’s papacy prompts that anxious question peculiarly dear to the modern Church: what does it mean to be Catholic today? This course will not only introduce students to this enigmatic pope, but will also seek to situate the goals of his papacy within the wider history of the Catholic Church. Thus, students will be introduced to the unique concerns and identity of contemporary Catholicism and begin to discern how Francis has shaped and will continue to shape the Catholic Church.

REL-228-03: Faith Traditions, Historical Encounters

MWF 10:10-11 a.m.

CAP: XB: Faith Traditions and Diversity and Social Justice

Joshua Wopata

American lay “saints” as models of holiness and vocation

Many young lay Catholics wonder about what it looks like to be holy in the modern world. The course will explore this concern by examining biographical accounts of recent causes of American lay people for the sainthood. Additionally, by studying their historical context, this very diverse group of a dozen witnesses will be used to facilitate a conversation about the nature of lay "vocation" in our own contemporary and secular world. For example, we will analyze both the Native American Saint Kateri Tekakwitha (1656-1680) and the former slave Venerable Pierre Toussaint (1766-1853), as well as more recent causes that include a stigmatic mother (Rhoda Wise 1888-1955) from Youngstown, Ohio, and the controversial case of the incapacitated “Little Audrey” Santo (1983-2007) as American models of lay holiness.

REL-256-P1: Faith Traditions, Prayer

TR 3:35-4:50 p.m.

CAP: XB: Faith Traditions and Diversity and Social Justice

Sandra Yocum


This course explores prayer as a fundamental practice for those seeking to enter into a relationship with the divine. This course offer students opportunities to learn about and practice forms of prayer especially from the Christian tradition as well as to explore Jewish practices of prayer. Consideration will be given to the connections between prayer and vocation, the significance of communal prayer, and the fruits of personal and communal prayer which deepen respect and love for "self" and “the neighbor” and sustain commitments to the works of mercy, compassion, and justice.

REL-261-01: Faith Traditions, Human Rights

TR 3:35-4:50 p.m.

CAP: XB: Faith Traditions and Diversity and Social Justice

Kelly Johnson

Human Rights

Faith communities seem to be sometimes allies and sometimes opponents of the work to establish international human rights. Do all faiths say the same thing, or do they disagree? Does religion promote peace and justice or violence and intolerance? And why, in the face of human rights atrocities, do people continue to believe that there is a good God? More than half of the world’s population identify as either Christian or Muslim. This course will particularly explore the ways those communities understand and advocate for the human right to food, in a world where that right is not generally accepted.


College of Arts and Sciences

O'Reilly Hall
300 College Park
Dayton, Ohio 45469 - 0800