Courses taught by Dr. Jensen over the years
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  Courses taught and teaching

COVID-19 CLEARING HOUSE INFORMATION

 

SOCIOLOGY COURSES
 
COMPARATIVE RELIGION COURSES
 
 
 
  Introductory Sociology (WMU)

Catalog Description: “Systematic introduction to the field of sociology, its theories, concepts, and methods. Explores social relationships within the context of social structure.”

Additional Description: With the help of the Required Texts, a particular emphasis will be given to the sociological sub fields of theory and the sociology of religion.

 
  American Religious Landscape (HC)

Catalog Description: “This sociological course will survey various religious traditions, over the last 100 years, within the United States. Though the main focus will be on Christianity, Buddhism, and Islam, students will also learn about several new religions, the non-theist traditions, and the growing population of the religiously indifferent. Students will learn how these religious traditions conceive of the Divine, construct their cosmologies, celebrate their founders and saviors, practice their faiths, and build their religious communities. This will allow students to understand the sociological institution of religion and its dynamic interplay with other social institutions (e.g. family, education, economy, politics, mass media, etc.). All of this will be achieved through discourse, the reading of academic texts, short clips from documentary films, and the occasional traditional lecture.”

Additional Description: There is an age old adage that ‘one must learn another language before one can truly understand, appreciate, and/or master their own.’ Therefore, we will begin with an overview of basic concepts and theories in the study of religion. Next, we will conduct a methodical study of Buddhism and Islam, two major world religions in their own right but minor religions here in America. With these newly acquired analytical skills, we will then survey the major trends in Christianity. Finally, the course will end by examining a few non-mainstream religions, the non-theist traditions (according to Pew (2015), represent 15.9% of the population of America), religious fundamentalism, and American religious scandals. All of this will occur against a back drop of understanding dogma, theodicy, and the sociology of religion.

 
 
 

 

  Popular Culture, Sociology of (HC)

Catalog Description: “This sociological course will examine our dialectical relationship with modern popular culture. To be precise, how popular culture shapes us and how we shape it as we embrace or reject it. Using various sociological tools, students will learn about the antagonism between folk and popular culture; the difference between material and non-material culture; the distinctions between high, middle, and low culture; how culture is disseminated, recycled, weaponized, and becomes unfashionable; and, finally, how the culture industry functions. All of this will be achieved through discourse, the reading of academic texts, short clips from documentary films, and the occasional traditional lecture.”

Additional Description: In this reading intensive course, the class and I will explore some of the many ways sociologists investigate, understand, and explain the various notions of culture. With the help of the Required Texts and Hand-outs, a particular emphasis will be given to the sociological sub-field of theory.

 
  Introduction to World Religions - Fall 2022 (HC)

Catalog Description: “A survey of the major religious traditions of the world. Emphasis is placed upon the theologies, religious practices, and ethical teachings of the faiths studied. The course will begin with an inquiry into the nature of religion and religious belief, and then survey ancient religions, primarily those of Egypt, Mesopotamia, and Greece. The course will then turn to the major Eastern (Hinduism, Buddhism, Shintoism, Taoism, and Confucianism) and Western (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) religions. Some time will also be spent on Jainism, Zoroastrianism, Sikhism, and African religions.”
 
 
 

 

  Principles of Sociology (CMU)

Catalog Description: “An introduction to, and survey of, the discipline of sociology and its major fields of study. A scientific study and analysis of human behavior and interaction, our social nature and the social world (groups, cultures, religions, institutions, communities and societies) in which we live. Selected concepts, theories and research findings pertaining to social life at both the national and international level are presented and explored.”

Additional Description: Using Joel M. Charon’s Ten Questions: A Sociological Perspective, students will be introduced to the field of sociology by a set of questions and answers that help uncover and explain the world of human interaction.

 
  Religion in Modern Society (WMU)

Catalog Description: “Whereas a major focus of the systematic study of religion is upon religious traditions, or aspects of them, it is important that attention also be paid to the questions raised by the various contexts in which religion occurs as well as to questions raised by the methods developed in studying religion in such contexts. The specific context of religion to be studied in this course is that of industrial society. For religion to be understood in more than historical terms it is important that attention be paid to this kind of context. As a consequence of such a focus questions also are raised about the methods developed to specify and delineate such contexts and the role that religion plays in them. This provides an occasion for raising questions about the assumptions underlying such methods and about their relationship to the systematic study of religion.”
 
 
 

 

  Sociology of Family and Kinship (HC)

Catalog Description: “The goal of this course is to survey the major sociological perspectives of one of the oldest social institutions, the family. Using a balanced coverage of both theoretical perspectives and research methods, students will learn about the norms, values, patterns, misconceptions, and forces that contribute to the unity and/or disharmony of the family unit. This will allow students to understand the social basis of the family, the variety of its forms, its historical changes, its modern challenges, and, most importantly, its dynamic inter-play with other social institutions (e.g. economy, law, class, politics, religion, etc.). All of this will be achieved through discourse, the reading of academic texts, short clips from documentary films, and the occasional traditional lecture.”

Additional Description: With the help of the Required Texts and Hand-outs, a particular emphasis will be given to the sociological sub-field of theory.

 
  Religion, Society, and Culture (HC)

Catalog Description: “The purpose of this sociological course is to examine the dialectical relationship between the secular and religious, as it is played out in our modern culture. In other words, we will explore and critically examine how the antagonism between secular forces and religious forces shape our society and ourselves. By the end of the course, students will be familiar with the problems of defining religion, treating religion as a sui generis object, sociological theories about religion, and Dr. Erich Fromm’s distinctions between humanistic and authoritarian religion. All of this will be achieved through the reading of academic texts, discourse, short clips from documentary films, and traditional lecture.”

Additional Description: In this reading intensive course, we will begin with an overview of the basic concepts and theories that are used to explain and study modern ‘society’ and ‘religion.’ Next, we will explore Catholicism and Protestantism in order to understand their social structures, dogmas, and answers to theodicy. In other words, our emphasis will be on how they function and interact with other religious and secular forces opposed to their related histories. Finally, the course will end with a study of fundamentalism; the Gospel of Prosperity; the distinctions between humanistic and authoritarian religions; and the arguments behind non-theist traditions, which now represent 15.9% of the population of U.S. (Pew 2015).

 
 
 

 

  Sociology of Social Problems (HC)

Catalog Description: “This sociological course will survey some of the major social issues that face America in the 21st century. After a brief overview of the ‘nuts and bolts’ of sociological theory, the focus of this course will center on understanding the processes by which social issues become a focus of our social concern. To be precise, students will not only learn about the social problems that face our nation and how institutions within our society can create, exacerbate, and/or solve these problems, but, more importantly, come to understand the mechanisms (i.e., the ‘whys’ and ‘hows’) that cause our social attention to wax and wane over time. All of this will be achieved through discourse, the reading of academic texts, short clips from documentary films, and the occasional traditional lecture.”

Additional Description: With the help of the Required Texts and Hand-outs, a particular emphasis will be given to the sociological sub-field of theory.

 
  Religions of the World (WMU)

Catalog Description: “An approach to the religions of the world which surveys themes in various religious traditions (such as Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism and primitive religions). The course studies how these religious traditions conceive of gods and world order, founders and saviors, religious experience and practice, and religious communities. The course will pay attention to the contemporary status and significance of these themes”

Additional Description: The time in this course will be divided into four sections. In the first section, we will define the basic terms of the course, discuss church/state separation, and the concept of Theodicy. The second, third, and forth sections will survey the themes, in a non-proselytizing way, of Mesoamerica, Islam, and Buddhism. We will cover the major concepts concerning their myths of origin, cosmologies, beliefs, customs, what they consider sacred and profane, burial rights, and their conception of the afterlife.

 
 
 

 

  Comparative Human Societies - Fall 2022 (HC)

Catalog Description: “Is it important to understand other cultures, past and present? How can knowing about other societies help us to understand our own better? What skills and ideas do sociologists and anthropologists bring to the table to help us understand ourselves and others? This course will compare and contrast societies and cultures from the earliest known examples to modern globalized society. We will cover such topics as political and economic systems, subsistence patterns, kinship, religion, civic-ness, inequality, and social change. We will specifically focus on the tensions between the individual and institutional structures, and how they impact each other.”

Additional Description: In this sociology course, we will explore Prof. Lenski’s (1924-2015) and Prof. Nolan’s (n.d.) ecological-evolutionary theory of human societies. With their emphasis on how technology is the driving force responsible for human societal change, Lenski and Nolan will explain how, over the last 12,000 years, hunting and gathering, horticultural, agrarian, and industrial societies have developed, functioned, and evolved. Finally, to round out our understanding of comparative human societies, we will use the works of James Burke (b. 1936), a science historian, to help ‘see’ how technological advancements are connected.

 
 
 
 
 

 

  The Sociology of Erich Fromm - Jan. 2022 (HC)

Catalog Description: “This course will survey the works of Dr. Erich Fromm (1900-1980), one of the most notable psychoanalysts, social psychologists, and humanistic philosophers of the 20th century. Fromm is an author of over 30 books, two of which were best sellers: Escape from Freedom (1941) and The Art of Loving (1956). Originally associated with the critical theory of the Frankfurt School, Fromm is best known for his critique and revision of Sigmund Freud's psychoanalytic theory, in conversation with the works of Marx. His writings were quite popular in the middle of the twentieth century and their influence endures, though he is arguably a neglected figure in contemporary sociology. In this reading-intensive course, students will study Fromm's analysis of modern freedom, the sane society, the difference between humanistic and authoritarian religions, the seven types of nonproductive character orientations, and the mechanisms people use to avoid making a choice. The overall goal is to help students become familiar with Fromm's work and its significance for both psychoanalysis and sociology.”

Additional Description: First, to present an overview of Dr. Fromm's understanding of the interplay or, more precisely, the dialectical relationship between sociology and psychology. Second, to explore and evaluate how he connects "the base" to "the superstructure." And, third, to facilitate the student's development so they may contribute to, as Prof. Siebert (b. 1927) has advocated, ‘a more just, humane, and reconciled society that is not based on exploitation and/or social Darwinism.’

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

  Substitute Instructor


 
200 level courses: The Christian traditions, The Jewish traditions, and Introduction to philosophy.

300 level courses: Religion and revolution, Psychological elements in religion, Religion and social ethics, and Religion in modern society.

600 level courses: Advanced seminars in Comparative Religion and Sociology.