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REL550: Soul Searching: Self Identity&Meaning

As human beings, we struggle with the existential questions of life: What should I do? How should I live? Who shall I become?

As human beings, we struggle with the existential questions of life: What should I do? How should I live? Who shall I become? Why do some people find meaning, purpose, and fulfillment in life, but others do not? Our sense of identity and belonging shifts and stretches as we move through the time and space of our life journeys. For millennia, religion has offered insight and guidance on how we should consider these core questions; more recently, science - specifically, the field of psychology - has joined the conversation and heightened our awareness of the cultural and societal influences on our sense of self. Our class will view the human quest for meaning, purpose, fulfillment, identity and belonging through the overlapping lenses of ancient religion and contemporary psychology, literature and film to learn about how we might answer these questions in our own lives. Course texts may include The Happiness Hypothesis by psychologist Jonathan Haidt; Exit West by novelist Mohsin Hamid; Einstein and the Rabbi: Searching for the Soul by Rabbi Naomi Levy; and the Academy Award-winning film "Moonlight." After the readings, Harkness discussion, and reflective writing about the class texts, students will end the course by writing spiritual autobiographies exploring the themes of the class as they apply to their own lives.