RELIGIOUS STUDIES

7 semesters/ 35 credits required

Unless otherwise noted, all academic courses in this department meet both CSU and UC entrance requirements.

During their first two years of study at Notre Dame, students are required to take core courses in religious studies that provide them with foundations in theology, scripture study and discernment. Self-discovery and creative self-expression are woven throughout. Juniors and seniors are required to take two semesters of religious studies elective courses in addition to the required social justice course taken in their junior year (a total of three semesters).

The commitment to act on behalf of justice and to serve others is rooted in the Gospel. It is important that students have the opportunity to examine justice issues and place them within the context of their theological and scriptural studies in addition to their own experience serving the community.  Therefore, the student has two options in approaching her upper-division coursework.  She may either take:

• Two semesters of religious studies courses in her junior year (Peace and Social Justice as well as one other elective) and one semester of religious studies electives in her senior year.

OR

• One semester of religious studies (Peace and Social Justice) in her junior year and two semesters of religious studies electives in her senior year.

Required Courses

Elective Courses (11th/12th Grade)


#2801 SELF, SPIRITUALITY AND SCRIPTURE
10 credits - Grade 9 
Prerequisite: None 
Does not meet CSU/UC requirement

This year-long course engages students in an exploration of themselves as young women growing in mind and spirit.  Students study the charism of St. Julie Billiart and the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur as a foundation to understanding the spirituality of the Notre Dame community. Keeping in mind the diversity of religious faiths present at Notre Dame, the course then invites students to explore the nature of faith and diverse images of God. As part of the course, students complete a cornerstone project of freshman year:  the Women’s Place Project. This cross-curricular study of women who have significantly contributed to humanity serves as a model for the student's own spiritual and personal journey. The course also includes an overview of Hebrew scriptures that note the formation of scripture and its interpretation in the context of Catholic understanding.  Throughout the year students are exposed to a variety of types of prayer as an invitation to grow personally and in community.

#2802 GOSPEL STORIES, GOSPEL CHOICES
10 credits - Grade 10   
Prerequisite: None
Does not meet CSU/UC requirement  

In a world that can often seem broken, the gospel message of hope and love shines through as one that all of us can embrace and live to create a world based on justice, unconditional love and eternal peace. In this yearlong course, students will explore the Christian message in its original context through the reading of the gospels and other portions of the New Testament, starting with the Gospel of Mark. The gospel values examined will be applied to modern social issues in order to see that Jesus’ central message of the reign of God is a visible and tangible reality. Interpretations draw from the Catholic faith tradition alongside our individual and communal life  experiences. The course takes an interdisciplinary approach to basic moral questions and ethical concerns that arise in relationships with self, others, creation and God. In particular, the theme of human dignity will be examined in this and other Notre Dame courses.

#2811 PEACE AND SOCIAL JUSTICE
5 credits - Grade 11
Prerequisite: None       

Justice, the primary way to establish peace, flowers through right relationships with self, others, creation and God. Students consider how faith-in-action requires critically thinking, prayerful discernment and responding to injustice with both direct service and social action. The classroom community will study root causes and effects of social justice issues such as human trafficking, structural discrimination, workers’ rights, the environment and poverty from a standpoint of solidarity and hope. We will examine church doctrine (particularly Catholic Social Teachings and scripture) that address these, and other, issues to guide our responses. Students will be challenged to consider their own role in creating a more just world and begin to practice long-term advocacy actions to change societal structures for good. The class content and process helps prepare students for the Senior Service Learning Project. Students will leave the class better prepared to think broadly about social inequity and act locally.

 

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#2810 WORLD RELIGIONS 
5 credits - Grade(s) 11, 12
Prerequisite: None        

In this comparative study of great world religions, students have the opportunity to examine the diversity of faith traditions, thereby giving their own beliefs new meaning and fresh perspective. Students are empowered to examine religion as an inseparable part of every culture, as well as promote peaceful coexistence through learning about multiple traditions. Students examine the similarities and differences that these religions have in relationship to each other and with Catholic Christianity. This course approaches world religions with a thematic approach exploring such themes as Healing Ceremonies, Religion and Justice, Religion and Social Activism, and Prayer and Meditation Practices. Group projects focus on looking at each religion through its ritual and practice. This course is designed to assist students as spiritual seekers, both in their own journey while also understanding the journeys of others.

#2807 FAITHFUL LIFE** 
5 credits - Grade(s) 11, 12 
Prerequisite: None      
Does not meet CSU/UC requirement

Sacramental spirituality is a Catholic approach to deepening one's faith and becoming fully alive.  We will explore how God is revealed through the seven sacraments of the Catholic Church which can strengthen our faith. Sacramental spirituality is a pathway to becoming a more compassionate, forgiving, and loving person in response to the suffering in the world. You will be challenged to examine the choices you are making in light of gospel values and consider your calling with respect to your unique gifts and talents. The course content will focus on discernment and action based on gospel values and it will provide the framework for living a life of justice and compassion. We will explore how we can promote healing within ourselves and others through class discussion, experiential activities, and projects. Faithful Life is designed to enrich our faith as a spiritual seeker through self-reflection, prayer practices, discussion and the application of gospel principles to social issues.

** This course is mandatory for students planning to be confirmed with the Notre Dame Community.  The Sacrament of Confirmation will next be offered in Spring 2023. Rising juniors are encouraged to register for this course in the 2021-2022 academic year.

# 2816 INTRODUCTION TO PHILOSOPHY
5 credits - Grade(s) 11, 12
Prerequisite: None      

This semester course provides an introduction to philosophical reflection and examination of central questions of human existence, structured both implicitly and explicitly by the Socratic question, “what is the best way to live?” Students will grapple with the fundamental questions posed and debated since the dawn of humankind, examine the ways in which archetypal thinkers have spoken to each other’s ideas over two millennia, and analyze the way in which they approach these questions. Through the practice of logic, critical thinking, dialogue, and debate, students will grow as thinkers, reflective learners, and empathetic community members. Ultimately, students will survey developed responses to ‘what am I to do?’ to help them approach the question in their own lives.

# 2818 CONTEMPORARY THEMES IN LIBERATION 
5 credits - Grade(s) 11, 12
Prerequisite: None      

Theologies of liberation are rooted in the immediate application of a faith that does justice.  This course offers an interdisciplinary and global approach to explore systematic and personal oppression, as well as the human desire for liberation, both literal and metaphorical.  Specific focus is given to poverty, gender, race, and the environment.  Throughout the course students explore radical love, peace and reconciliation, and advocacy as pathways to manifesting Jesus Christ's reign of God.  Disciplines include: theology, history, economics, science, sociology, and politics.