Ancient Greek Thought
A sur­vey of ancient Greek thought, espe­cial­ly as rep­re­sent­ed by Socrates, Pla­to, and Aris­to­tle. Our focus is ethics and polit­i­cal the­o­ry. We begin with the pre-Socrat­ics: Thales, Anax­i­man­der, Anaximenes, Pythagorus, Her­a­cli­tus, and Par­menides. We then turn to Socrates, read­ing four dia­logues con­nect­ed with his tri­al and death: Euthy­phroApol­o­gyCrito, and Phae­do. This leads to a con­sid­er­a­tion of how Pla­to, a stu­dent of Socrates, devel­oped his teacher’s way of think­ing. We study Plato’s “doc­trine of ideas” and devote five ses­sions to a read­ing of the Repub­lic. Final­ly we take up the work of Aris­to­tle, devot­ing four ses­sions to his Nico­machean Ethics and five to his Pol­i­tics.

Catholic Intel­lec­tu­al Tradition
A sur­vey of the Catholic intel­lec­tu­al tra­di­tion from Augus­tine to the present, focused espe­cial­ly on the rela­tion­ships between faith and rea­son and between the Church and the world. Unit 1 focus­es on authors from ear­ly Chris­tian­i­ty to the start of the mod­ern peri­od, includ­ing Augus­tine of Hip­po, Thomas Aquinas, Dante Alighieri, Meis­ter Eck­hart, John of the Cross and Tere­sa of Avi­la. Unit 2 builds on this foun­da­tion to focus on more recent mate­ri­als, includ­ing the rela­tion­ship between the Church and “the mod­ern world” and works by Jacques Mar­i­tain, Dorothy Day, Shūsaku Endō, Eliz­a­beth John­son, and oth­ers. In con­clu­sion, we study sev­er­al works by Pope Fran­cis and con­sid­er some recent debates in Catholic life, espe­cial­ly about eco­nom­ics and ecology.

Crit­i­cal Reasoning
A sur­vey intro­duc­tion to the three lib­er­al arts of the triv­i­um: gram­mar, rhetoric, and log­ic. Stu­dents acquire the tools to assess the claims and argu­ments of oth­ers and build strong argu­ments for their own views, lay­ing a strong foun­da­tion for con­tin­ued work in col­lege and active par­tic­i­pa­tion in civic life there­after. We most­ly avoid the com­plex­i­ties of for­mal, sym­bol­ic log­ic and dive instead into the “art” of crit­i­cal rea­son­ing. The goal of the course is to pro­mote and sup­port orig­i­nal crit­i­cal rea­son­ing on the part of each student.

Debat­ing Democracy
In this course, stu­dents deep­en their under­stand­ing of what democ­ra­cy is and what it requires, in order to strength­en their abil­i­ty to defend it. Unit 1 sur­veys the his­to­ry of democ­ra­cy from its ori­gins to the present day. We start in ancient Greece, read­ing selec­tions from Per­i­cles, Pla­to, and Aris­to­tle, then move into the ear­ly mod­ern peri­od to look at the work of Machi­avel­li and Hobbes. Next, we con­sid­er the social con­tract tra­di­tion (Locke and Rousseau) and how this informed two defin­ing rev­o­lu­tions of the mod­ern peri­od: the Amer­i­can and the French. Final­ly, we con­sid­er the work of thinkers who have exposed the dan­gers of democ­ra­cy (includ­ing Toc­queville, Mill, and Dou­glass) as well as of oth­ers who have chal­lenged it direct­ly (Marx, Lenin, and Mus­soli­ni, among oth­ers). In Unit 2, we apply all this work to our present moment, study­ing selec­tions from three of the most promi­nent, recent books about the threats fac­ing democ­ra­cy today.

The Exam­ined Life
The Greek philoso­pher Socrates believed that “the unex­am­ined life is not worth liv­ing.” In this course, we take Socrates at his word and learn about how to live an “exam­ined life.” We focus on three ques­tions, cor­re­spond­ing to the three units of the course: (1) Who am I? (2) How will I speak? and (3) What will I do? We explore these ques­tions through three types of class­es: class­es about devel­op­ing skills, includ­ing active read­ing, effec­tive speak­ing, and the prac­tice of empa­thy; class­es about pri­ma­ry texts, to help us dig deep­er into our three ques­tions; and class­es ded­i­cat­ed com­plete­ly to stu­dent pre­sen­ta­tions. The course lays a sol­id foun­da­tion for stu­dents’ con­tin­ued work in the College’s Gen­er­al Edu­ca­tion Pro­gram. We explore the con­cerns that dri­ve that pro­gram and give each stu­dent the tools he or she needs to be an effec­tive speak­er and actor, both in col­lege and beyond.

His­to­ry of Christianity
A sur­vey of the his­to­ry of Chris­tian­i­ty, sup­ple­ment­ed by a series of short pri­ma­ry read­ings. In Unit 1, we study the ear­ly Church up to the Coun­cil of Chal­cedon in 451, includ­ing a read­ing of the Gospel of Mark. In Unit 2, we focus on the Mid­dle Ages and the Renais­sance, con­sid­er­ing the devel­op­ment of the Church is var­i­ous areas of Europe and Mid­dle East, scholas­ti­cism, the split between East­ern and West­ern church­es, and the emer­gence of Chris­t­ian human­ism. In Unit 3, we turn to the Protes­tant Ref­or­ma­tion and Catholic Counter-Ref­or­ma­tion, up to the so-called “wars of reli­gion” in the sev­en­teenth cen­tu­ry. In Unit 4, we begin with the Enlight­en­ment peri­od, con­sid­er­ing the sig­nif­i­cance for Chris­t­ian his­to­ry of the rev­o­lu­tions of the late eigh­teenth and nine­teenth cen­turies, and study the mis­sion­ary move­ments that flour­ished around the start of the twen­ti­eth cen­tu­ry. In Unit 5, we focus on the peri­od from 1914 to the present, con­sid­er­ing the World Wars and coun­ter­cul­ture move­ments of the 1960s, and con­clude by con­sid­er­ing the shift of ener­gy in the Church from the West to oth­er parts of the world.

Nature and Amer­i­can Literature
In this course, we explore some of the best-known Amer­i­can nature writ­ing of the past two cen­turies to under­stand the inter­play between wilder­ness, nature, and civ­i­liza­tion in Amer­i­can lit­er­a­ture. Our sur­vey leads from Thoreau’s Walden to the present, includ­ing read­ings from John Muir, Sarah Orne Jew­ett, Aldo Leopold, Loren Eise­ley, Rachel Car­son, Wen­dell Berry, Annie Dil­lard, Robin Wall Kim­mer­er, and a vari­ety of African Amer­i­can poets. The course is read­ing inten­sive and includes view­ings of five doc­u­men­taries about the authors we read.

Reli­gion and Society
This course offers an his­tor­i­cal intro­duc­tion to the study of reli­gion, focus­ing on how thinkers have under­stood the rela­tion­ship between reli­gion and soci­ety. After a brief intro­duc­tion to the field of reli­gious stud­ies and some atten­tion to the roots of the idea of “reli­gion” in six­teenth cen­tu­ry Europe, stu­dents engage with the work of a range of clas­si­cal the­o­rists through both pri­ma­ry and sec­ondary sources, includ­ing Max Müller, E. B. Tylor, J. G. Fraz­er, Sig­mund Freud, Emile Durkheim, Karl Marx, Max Weber, William James, Mircea Eli­ade, Clif­ford Geertz, and Talal Asad. In con­clu­sion, we trace how the work of these the­o­rists informs recent debates in the field of reli­gious stud­ies and assess some promi­nent cri­tiques of that field itself.

Reli­gions of Asia
An intro­duc­to­ry sur­vey of four major reli­gious and eth­i­cal tra­di­tions native to Asia. After study­ing mate­ri­als to ori­ent us in the study of these tra­di­tions, we begin by turn­ing to Hin­duism, includ­ing a read­ing of por­tions of the Bha­gavad Gita. We then con­sid­er two major tra­di­tions of Chi­na: Con­fu­cian­ism and Tao­ism, includ­ing read­ings of por­tions of Confucius’s Analects and the Tao Te Ching. Final­ly we devote sev­er­al weeks to the study of Bud­dhism, here mak­ing our most com­pre­hen­sive study. We walk though that tra­di­tion’s major teach­ings and fea­tures, focus­ing espe­cial­ly on the Zen tra­di­tions. We con­clude with a read­ing of por­tions of the Dhammapada.

Senior Human­i­ties Seminar
We read a wide vari­ety of sources includ­ing sto­ries, essays, mem­oirs, spir­i­tu­al writ­ing, and selec­tions from pop­u­lar works of non-fic­tion. In Unit 1, we explore “the life of the mind,” read­ing works on four themes: learn­ing, imag­i­na­tion, writ­ing, and con­tem­pla­tion. In Unit 2, we turn our atten­tion to the prac­ti­cal life and ask direct­ly what it means to “live well.” Here we focus on five themes: “the good life,” hap­pi­ness, love, loss, and death. In Unit 3, mov­ing deep­er into our engage­ment with the world and with oth­ers, we ask what it means to “live togeth­er,” focus­ing on the themes of nature, strug­gle, race, and com­mu­ni­ty. Read­ings includes selec­tions from Ursu­la Le Guin, Stephen King, Richard Rohr, Jonathan Haidt, bell hooks, Harold Kush­n­er, Annie Dil­lard, Mar­tin Luther King, Jr., Mal­colm X, Michelle Alexan­der, Robert Reich, Arthur C. Brooks, and others.

The Spir­i­tu­al Life
A sur­vey of writ­ings and oth­er mate­ri­als relat­ed to the spir­i­tu­al life. Unit 1 address­es the basic ques­tion, “what is spir­i­tu­al­i­ty?” We learn about spir­i­tu­al tra­di­tions in sev­er­al reli­gious and sec­u­lar con­texts, focus­ing on exam­ples from Chris­tian­i­ty, Islam, phi­los­o­phy, fem­i­nism, and LGBT expe­ri­ence. Unit 2 con­sid­ers three key dimen­sions of spir­i­tu­al­i­ty: as relat­ed to our expe­ri­ence (in mys­ti­cism, jazz, coun­ter­cul­ture, and sci­ence), as itself as way of life (in psy­chol­o­gy and busi­ness), and as a part of soci­ety (in health care and through the Bud­dhist phi­los­o­phy of “inter­be­ing”). Unit 3 engages with what it means to lead a spir­i­tu­al life, focus­ing on the rela­tion­ship between spir­i­tu­al­i­ty and reli­gion, being “spir­i­tu­al but not reli­gious,” and Bud­dhist and Chris­t­ian prac­tices of med­i­ta­tion. Includes vis­its by sev­er­al speak­ers and local practitioners.

The­ol­o­gy of the Civ­il Rights Movement
A sur­vey of the role of reli­gion in the civ­il rights move­ment, both at the movement’s height in the 1950s and 1960s and in the con­tin­ued strug­gle for civ­il rights in the US today. We focus in turn on the work of a series of lumi­nary con­trib­u­tors to the move­ment and its lega­cy: Howard Thur­man, Mar­tin Luther King, Jr., Abra­ham Hes­chel, Mal­colm X, James Bald­win, James Cone, and Ta-Nehisi Coates. We also study key events in the his­to­ry of the civ­il rights move­ment, includ­ing in Mont­gomery, Birm­ing­ham, and Wash­ing­ton, DC. We con­clude by con­sid­er­ing the rela­tion­ship between the civ­il rights move­ment and Black Lives Mat­ter move­ment, focus­ing on the role of reli­gious faith and orga­ni­za­tions in each. The course is designed to offer a thor­ough “his­to­ry of the present” of debates in the US around issues of race and the role of reli­gion in the ongo­ing strug­gle for racial justice.