Day and Boarding; Grades 6-12

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Religion

Graduation requirement: 1 credit, including Religion in America and one elective

The Religion Department equips Pennington students with skills to engage their academic journey, the world, and themselves with intellectual empathy and cross-cultural competencies. Building on their introduction to the study of global religion during their ninth-grade year in World History, students take Religion in America, a multidisciplinary study of the history and religious diversity of the United States, during their sophomore year. Students choose from a range of departmental and interdisciplinary course offerings during their junior year to further build on this foundation. Throughout the curriculum, emphasis is placed on the daily discipline of reading, note-taking, and reflection, and the rigorous practice of seminar discussion. Critical thinking, writing, research and oral presentation skills are cultivated alongside collaborative, technology-based exploration. Experiential opportunities both within the classroom (guest speakers, Skype interviews, and live streaming of religious festivals) and beyond (visits to communities of worship, lectures, and historical sites) provide multiple texts for analysis, exploration, and reflection.

Religion in America; Grade 10

Religion in America*
Grade 10
.5 credit
The United States is the most religiously diverse nation in the world. I n this course we will explore the histories, cultures, traditions, and practices that shape the faith communities of twenty-first-century America. Drawing from our texts, as well as from primary sources, articles, media resources, and experiential opportunities, we will introduce cross-cultural skills of religious literacy and intellectual empathy for diverse worldviews and ways of life.
*Required course for sophomores
Offered fall and spring semesters

The Hebrew Bible; Grades 11-12

The Hebrew Bible
Grades 11–12
.5 credit
This course will introduce students to the academic study of all three portions of the Jewish scriptures, or mikra: Torah (law), Nevi'im (prophets), and Ketuvim (writings), together called Tanakh. Through the use of traditional and modern interpretive tools, we will try to gain a deeper understanding of the Hebrew Bible, its historical context, reception history, and influence. We will also seek to appreciate the spiritual and devotional value the scriptures hold for Jews all over the world. To help us achieve these goals, we will travel to a synagogue, host guest speakers, consider artwork and music, and even learn some hebrew! Finally, this course will give us some insight into the history and contemporary milieu of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Offered fall semester

Buddhism; Grades 11-12

Buddhism
Grades 11–12
.5 credit
In this course we will track the evolution of Buddhist traditions across cultures, from the life and teachings of the historical Buddha in northern India to the dynamic, ever-evolving forms of American Buddhism. We will study Buddhist cosmology, philosophy, and psychology, exploring Buddhism’s particular understanding of humanity, with significant focus on the practice of meditation and related disciplines. We will draw from core texts of Buddhist literature as well as contemporary teachings of Buddhist leaders across the globe.
Offered fall semester

Rhythm of the Sacred; Grades 11-12

Rhythm of the Sacred*
Grades 11–12
.5 credit

This semester course explores how music has been a powerful and essential part of religious experience in various parts of the world. Major world religions such as Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, and Sikhism will be covered. Students will have the opportunity to do in-depth music research on a religious culture of their choice, or on a musical element that exists in more than one tradition (such as drumming, vocals, etc.). Understanding of musical style will be enhanced by listening to recordings and the performance of music on a variety of instruments.
*Prerequisite: Religion in America.
*Successful completion of this course also garners Arts credit.
Offered fall and spring semesters

Religion and Ecology; Grades 11-12

Religion and Ecology
Grades 11–12
.5 credit
How do we see the natural world? What guides our actions and relationships with the environment? From Native American concepts of sacred space to Jewish and Christian theologies of relationship with the land, and from Buddhist views of interconnectedness to Hindu perspectives of the earth as an expression of the divine, the diversity of worldviews is vast. In this semester course we will engage sacred texts and traditions, mythologies and cosmologies, and poetry and nature writing. Our goal will be to deepen our awareness of the richness of the global human journey and to explore and celebrate meaning and sustainable action in the context of this time of environmental challenge.
Offered spring semester

Introduction to Philosophy; Grades 11-12

Introduction to Philosophy
Grades 11–12
.5 credit
Philosophy is a love of wisdom and an appreciation for the complexities of life. Students will be introduced to the thought, writings, and influence of major philosophical thinkers. We will begin with Descartes and Kant and include other philosophers such as Locke, Pascal, Marx, and Nietzsche. We will explore the basic questions of philosophy, including topics in elementary logic and reasoning, ethics and morality, and issues in political and social philosophy. Students will learn to frame contemporary issues and problems within a philosophical and logical system in order to shed new light on what is at stake for them and for society.
Offered spring semester