R S 346 • Making of Amer Christianity
9:30 AM-11:00 AM
This course has two overarching objectives: (1) to explore the impact of religious institutions, values, and practices on contemporary American life; and (2) to provide an opportunity for students to hone their social science writing skills. This course contains a significant writing component. After briefly reviewing key features and emerging characteristics of the US religious scene, the first major segment of course materials will examine a range of possible religious influences on the health and happiness of Americans. Next we will investigate the impact of religion on contemporary family life, with particular attention to marital relations, gender roles, fertility, and childrearing. Then we will explore the possible role of religion in reducing crime, delinquency, and recidivism, and other issues involving the criminal justice system. Finally, we will investigate links between religion and various types of pro-social orientations and behaviors, and the motivating role of faith commitments in social movements and political activism. Although we will touch on a wide range of topics and issues during the course, we will give particular attention to three major themes: (1) the dynamic character of American religious life, including the diversity of institutions, practices, and beliefs; (2) the complex, multidimensional character of religious involvement among Americans; and (3) the potential for religion to play both "positive" and "negative" roles in the individual and collective lives of Americans.