Section outline

  • Course Description

    Instructors: György Geréby (Office hours TBA)

    Karl Hall (Office hours: Mondays 14:30-15:30 and by appointment)

    Time: Tuesdays, 10:50-12:30

    Location: QS D-212

    Course description: The course studies the relationship between science and religion from antiquity through the modern period. Are they incompatible, independent, compatible, or cooperative? How have they come to be seen as metaphysically distinct? We will survey various scholarly theses about this issue and examine the senses in which "science" could encompass the overlapping concerns of theology and natural philosophy in centuries past, and then turn our attention to the ways that science has become a form of knowledge that occasionally challenges religious doctrines. How did individuals of diverse scholarly communities and confessions read and write scientific texts and produce scientific knowledge? What were the specifically disciplinary challenges to religious belief as the concepts and institutions of science expanded? We will investigate these questions primarily with respect to the Western tradition, including the Hellenistic period, Christianity (Catholic, Protestant and eventually Orthodoxy), but with occasional comparisons to Islam. 

    Course goals: We aim to read and analyze texts that enable us to understand scientific and religious concepts in interaction. In studying the tropes of conflict, mutual isolation, and reconciliation, we will investigate the argumentative and rhetorical strategies of religious and scientific figures, and in the modern period, we will also see how the historical sciences themselves became participants in, and not just chroniclers of, these encounters.

    Learning outcomes:  Students will gain familiarity with Hellenistic, medieval and modern conceptions of science and religion, with the evolving bounds of knowledge in medieval and modern science, and with the methods, sources, leading figures, and institutional contexts that have informed the science-religion relationship. 

    Advanced certificates: May be applied to the Religious Studies advanced certificate.

    Requirements and assessment: The grade is based on one class presentation [15%], two times serving as discussion leader [10% + 10%], a review essay [50%], and general class participation [15%].

    Note on class presentations: For purposes of this course, a presentation is neither a formal mini-lecture nor a PowerPoint slide show, but rather an exercise in accountability. Whereas a discussion leader will only be responsible for assigned texts, the class presentation may require modest additional preparation. Decisions about scope will be determined by student interests in prior consultation with the instructors, but will likely be driven by a given session topic. 

    Review essay due December 20. Topic should be chosen in consultation with the instructors. Length: 8-9 pages double-spaced. 

    Class Attendance

    Regular attendance is mandatory in all classes. A student who misses more than two units (two 100-minute sessions) in any 2 or 4 credit class without a verified reason beyond the student's control must submit an 8-10 page paper assigned by the professor, which as a rule covers the material in the class missed. The paper is due no later than 3 weeks after the missed class.

  • In contrast to last year, our expectation is that most instruction will take place face-to-face. But we will attempt to remain in hybrid mode to accommodate anyone with visa or Covid-related obstacles to attendance. Please note that attendance online is not a matter of convenience for those able to attend in person. (Sleeping late is not sufficient grounds to attend online!) Eligible students may access course sessions via this Zoom link.  

    As a matter of courtesy and a sign of engagement, please keep your video on at least half of the time. It is generally wise to mute your audio, but you can preemptively unmute in anticipation of speaking. You can also indicate your readiness to intervene by using the "Chat" function.

    When the instructor or student presenter is sharing slides, Zoom generally takes over the entire screen. Click on "View Options" at the top of the screen and choose "Exit Full Screen." You can then adjust the window to suit your purposes. 

    Holding a seminar online via Zoom presents special challenges to our collective participation and individual attention spans. If you are online, please stay "in the room" during the class. No scanning social media on the side!

    This seems sufficient for our purposes, but if you would like more explicit guidelines, let us copy below the ones developed by our Political Science Department. 

    For students participating in online sessions, please refer to the following guidelines to ensure a successful learning environment:
    1. Be polite and kind, respect yourself, respect others and respect the online environment.
    2. Remember that we are still learning and interacting with cultures around the world. Dress appropriately, as you would in a university classroom.
    3. Sit in a well-lit space and be mindful of what things in your home may be in view of the camera.
    4. Students should only have applications and resources open as directed by the course instructor.
    5. Please use non-verbal communication functions with a special emphasis of the icon to raise your hand to speak, at the same time recognize that your instructor may not immediately see the chat while leading the class. If the debate is unstructured, make sure nobody raised their hands before you speak up and jump ahead of them, make sure you pause before you respond to make sure your classmate or instructor has finished talking. Please don't monopolize discussion. Be to the point.
    6. Being in an online conference is like being in class. Contribute to the learning environment, and don’t make distracting noises or movements.
    7. Please keep your video on in order to enable better communication with course instructors and classmates. If you are unable to, for whatever reason, please let your instructor or TA know and turn off the video.
    8. Feel free to experiment with backgrounds or blurs if you worry about your privacy, but understand these features require additional computing resources.
    9. Mute yourself when you aren’t speaking.
    10. Please make sure your name is correctly displayed as what you want to be called by your colleagues and teaching team.