Junior Seminar: Religion and Conflict

Course Description

How does religion constrain or motivate conflict?  How do religious identities, beliefs, practices and social structures influence why we fight or how we fight?  This seminar seeks to guide students through readings in the social sciences, from psychology and sociology to anthropology and political science, that explore the intersection of religion and domestic or international conflict.  We will examine explanations for fundamentalism, extremism and religiously-motivated terrorism;  the role of religion in driving global, international and ethnic conflict;  religion and 9/11;  the notions of just war, jihad and holy war; and the contribution of religion to conflict resolution. 


This 18 seat seminar is reading and research intensive.  Students will be expected to write, review and rewrite a research paper on a topic of their choosing, based on feedback from their peers and the instructor.  Admission to this 18 seat seminar is by discretion of the instructor, with strong preference given to students who have taken, and excelled in PS124 (“War!”)  Applicants should submit to Suzan Nunes<> by 6:00pm on August 6, 2010  a 300-500 word statement describing, as specifically as possible, a topic related to religion and conflict that they would like to explore in their final paper for this 18 seat seminar.

Selection and notification will occur around August 20, 2010. There is no Telebears waitlist for this seminar.  Applicants should use their Phase 1 units to enroll in a back-up Political Science course in case they are not admitted to the seminar.  Selected students will be contacted during the Telebears  Adjustment  Period with instructions on how to enroll. 


The Junior Seminars are intense writing seminars which focus on the research area of the faculty member teaching the course. The seminars provide an opportunity for students to have direct intellectual interactions with faculty members while also giving the students an understanding for faculty research.  This junior seminar falls within the International Relations subfield, and can fulfill an upper division requirement for the major.


Political Science Majors of Junior and Senior status, with a minimum overall GPA of 3.3.