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. In this course students will explore the histories, cultures, traditions, and practices that shape the faith communities of twenty-first-century America. Texts, as well as primary sources, articles, media resources, and experiential opportunities, 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

Rhythm of the Sacred; Grades 11–12

Rhythm of the Sacred*
Grades 11–12
.5 credit
This semester-long 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 create a piece of music that fits their own experience in spiritual belief and practice. 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

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

The Ethics of Jesus; Grades 11–12

The Ethics of Jesus
Grades 11‒12
.5 credit
The field of ethics has changed dramatically over the past fifty years due to a number of factors such as technology, politics, globalization, and the evolution of human relationships. But it all boils down to this: What would you do if ___________? In this class, we will survey the field of ethics from the classical to the postmodern in order to form a basic understanding of the most well-known ethical frameworks. In addition, we will try to interpret the teachings of one of the most famous ethicists in history, Jesus of Nazareth, using the primary documents of the Christian and Hebrew scriptures as well as the important commentaries on his teachings. Finally, we will ask ourselves about our own ethical systems and hold them up to the lights of both religious (Western and non-Western) and non-religious standards. This class will include a required lecture at a nearby university.
Offered fall semester

East Asian Religions; Grades 11‒12

East Asian Religions
Grades 11‒12
.5 credit

This course is designed to introduce students to the major concepts, themes, and doctrines of the religions of East Asia. A careful examination will be done of the history and development of Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, and Shinto from their origins to the variety of distinct forms and cultural expressions that these religions have taken on in China, Korea, and Japan. Students will examine the religious beliefs and philosophical ideas of the great sages Confucius, Laozi, and the Buddha, and they will look at the ways in which these religious doctrines have influenced the formation of Chinese, Korean, and Japanese cultures. This class will also draw upon the core texts of Buddhist, Confucian, and Taoist literature as well as look at contemporary teachings within these religious traditions.
Offered fall semester

Women in the Bible; Grades 11‒12

Women in the Bible
Grades 11‒12
.5 credit

What role do women play in the Bible? Beginning with the Biblical matriarchs Eve and Sarah, this course will trace the unique history and stories of biblical women, named and unnamed, within the Bible. A careful examination will be done of biblical narratives, laws, and poems in order to paint a picture of what life was once like for women in Ancient Israel and the Ancient Mediterranean world. Students will explore the study of gender in the Bible and examine contemporary feminist interpretations of the biblical narratives.
Offered spring semester