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Academic Offerings

Academic Offerings in Religion and Ethics

Many academic offerings at Stanford address matters of religion: sacred texts and commentaries, religious thought (including cosmologies, philosophies, theologies), rituals and ceremonies, histories of religious groups, ethics, psychology and anthropology of religion, etc.  Check course listings under Religious Studies, Jewish Studies, Classics, History, Feminist Studies, Ethics in Society, Urban Studies, Modern Thought and Literature, Art, African American Studies, Political Science, Philosophy, English, Psychology, Anthropology, and Sociology, among others.  Relevant graduate-level course offerings are also found in several of the Schools (e.g., Humanities and Sciences, Education, Medicine, Law, and Business). The courses below are offered by the Dean, Senior Associate Dean and Associate Dean for Religious LIfe.


FEMST 109: Looking Back, Moving Forward: Raising Critical Awareness in Gender and Sports

Winter Quarter 2020

Co-taught by: Rev. Joanne Sanders

In 1972, Title IX legislation opened up a vast range of opportunities for women in sports. Since then, women’s sports have continued to grow yet the struggle for recognition and equality persists. This course will address three major areas: the history of women’s sports (Where have we been?), the current state of women’s sports nationally and internationally (Where are we now?), and the future of women’s sports (Where might we go from here?).To consider those areas, we’ll examine a few important areas: (1) how power structures in sports established and maintained the former and current status of women in sports; (2) how broader social constructs impact gender and sports expectations; (3) how Title IX has allowed more access to sports for women but has not been utilized fully.


CSRE 162A/RELIGST 162X/URBANST 126: Spirituality and Nonviolent Urban and Social Transformation

Instructor: Rabbi Patricia Karlin-Neumann

Winter Quarter 2020

TUE/THURS 9:30-10:20 AM

A life of engagement in social transformation is often built on a foundation of spiritual and religious commitments. Case studies of nonviolent social change agents including Rosa Parks in the civil rights movement, César Chávez in the labor movement, and WIlliam Sloane Coffin in the peace movement; the religious and spiritual underpinnings of their commitments. Theory and principles of nonviolence. Films and readings. Service learning component includes placements in organizations engaged in social transformation. Service Learning Course (certified by Haas Center).



FEMGEN 139 (Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies/Jewish History Studies)
Rereading Judaism in the Light of Feminism
Instructor: Rabbi Patricia Karlin-Neumann
Offered in Spring Quarter ’15

During the past three decades, Jewish feminists have asked new questions of traditional rabbinic texts, Jewish law, history, and religious life and thought. Analysis of the legal and narrative texts, rituals, theology, and community to better understand contemporary Jewish life as influenced by feminism.

RELIGST28SI (Religious Studies)
Instructor: Rabbi Patricia Karlin-Neumann and Barbara Pitkin
Offered in Spring Quarter ’15

This student-initated course explores the intersections of faith, compassion, and happiness. Faculty speakers from across the campus provide theoretical perspectives from a range of disciplines and share personal insights about the nature of faith, compassion, and happiness and their relationship to one another and role in a meaningful life. Student organizers provide a forum for participant discussion and reflection on these important topics. As part of Stanford’s response to President Obama’s Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge, the course is a collaboration between the Office for Religious Life, the Department of Religious Studies, the Haas Center for Public Service, the McCoy Family Center for Ethics in Society, and the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education. Class meets on Tuesdays starting March 31, 12:00 pm. Location TBD. Open to the public.

RELIGST 143 (Religious Studies)
Instructor: Dean Jane Shaw
Offered in Spring Quarter ’15

Empathy is fashionable these days – whether in Silicon Valley or the latest neuroscience. There is a deep sense that we need to learn how to walk in the shoes of another. This course will trace the meaning and practice of empathy through Buddhist compassion; Christianity’s commandments to love our neighbor; Enlightenment moral philosophy; nineteenth-century aesthetics; and twenty-first century neuroscience. We will also explore how the arts – drama, novels, poetry, and the visual arts – especially enable us to understand and empathize with the other.

ATHLETIC 188 (Athletics and Identity)- Athletic Participation and Identity Development

Instructor: Rev. Joanne Sanders
Offered in Fall Quarter ’12 and ’13   This course is currently on hiatus

This class provides an overview of identity development theory related to religious/spiritual identity development, gender and sexuality identity development, racial and cultural identity development, ethical and moral development, and the development of leadership, meaning and purpose. It will explore the ways in which athletic participation affects and contributes to each one of these developmental areas. This course will also examine each of these topics in a larger context by discussing relevant current issues and events in sport.

FEMSTUD 109 (Feminist, Gender and Sexuality Studies) Looking Back, Moving Forward: Raising Critical Awareness in Gender and Sports 

Instructors: Patti Hanlon-Baker & Rev.  Joanne Sanders
Class meetings: Tuesdays/Thursdays, 11:00-12:15 pm
Offered in Spring Quarter ’14   This course is currently on hiatus for Spring Quarter ’15

This course explores the fight for gender equality in sports through historical, cultural, and rhetorical lenses.

By looking at the history of women’s sports, as well as the current cultural values pertaining to athletic competition, we will seek ways to reframe discussions about men and women in the sports arena.

**The course will feature a number of outstanding guest speakers from professional, Olympic, and collegiate sports. Last year’s guests included Julie Foudy, Stanford alum, soccer legend, and sports commentator.


Religious Studies 28SI

Instructor: Steven P. Weitzman
Offered in Winter Quarter ’12

While most religious traditions make a distinction between believers and non-believers, some also posit a sense of responsibility to those outside the community, to ¿strangers¿ on the margins or beyond the boundaries of the group. This course is an attempt to explore how different religious traditions conceive of one’s obligation to the stranger-of how to treat the stranger, the foreigner, the outsider–and to relate such perspectives to the issue of how immigrants are treated in contemporary society. A collaboration of the Office for Religious Life, the Haas Center for Public Service and the Religious Studies department, and intended as a companion experience for Stanford’s response to President Obama’s Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge, the course will explore these issues in the light of a series of guest lectures from scholars of religion, law, sociology, cultural studies, education, and social justice and will aim to help students draw connections between religion (and non-belief) and one¿s role as a global citizen.

Urban Studies 126/Religious Studies 162-Spirituality and Nonviolent Social Transformation

Instructors:  Rabbi Patricia Karlin-Neumann (Lead), Rev. Joanne Sanders, Dr. Julia Reed
Offered in Winter Quarter ’12

A life of engagement in social transformation is often built on a foundation of spiritual and religious commitments.  Using case studies of several nonviolent social change agents–Rosa Parks in the civil rights movement in Montgomery, Alabama, Cesar Chavez in the labor movement and William Sloane Coffin in the peace movement, this course examines the theory and principles of nonviolence as well as the religious and spiritual underpinnings of their commitments.  The class will address social change, spirituality and religious traditions through films, texts and service. It will consider the religious and spiritual underpinnings of nonviolence, the streams that fed major nonviolent activists and the philosophers and theologians who influenced them.  Additionally, the course explores how social change happens in urban, rural and national arenas, how to stay buoyant over time while engaged in social transformation, and how some communities and organizations are living out nonviolent social transformation. There will be a service-learning component included, with placements in organizations engaged in social transformation.

Urban Studies 126 syllabus >>

Religious Studies 188A-Issues in Liberation: El Salvador

Instructors:  Thomas Sheehan
Course/Immersion travel assistants:  Rev. Joanne Sanders; Rev. Geoff Browning
Offered in Winter Quarter ’12

This course on El Salvador will include class time with texts and readings as well as lectures from professors through several disciplines including, but not limited to, Religious Studies, Human Biology, Political Science, and Latin  American Studies. We will study Liberation Theology and its impact on the life of Roman Catholic Archbishop Oscar Romero as well as its continuing legacy in the struggle for human rights in El Salvador. We will examine the history of trade and the effect of CAFTA on the socioeconomic situation. This class will also prepare students for an anticipated trip to El Salvador during spring break considering funding goals have been fully achieved.

Issues in Liberation: El Salvador Video

Pictures from last year’s El Salvador trip