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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

James K. Wellman
SIS 405
Seattle Campus

Political Economy of Religious Institutions

Comparative study of Buddhist, Taoist, Christian, and Islamic religious institutions as political and economic phenomena. Impact of wealth and power on religious institutions or religious ideas. Temporal coverage from the formative period to the present. Recommended: one China, Japan, Middle East, or Europe course.

Class description

This course is an advanced course in the study of religion and state issues. We will begin by investigating the history and archeology of the Western separation between political religion and the secular liberal state, investigating the consequences of this separation and its impact on the modern world, particularly as it relates to human security. We will then examine how religious non-state actors now often compete with states in their impact on human welfare. In some cases, the effect is benign. Religious groups provide essential services that corrupted and undemocratic states are unwilling or unable to provide. In other cases, the effect is detrimental to states’ capacity to exercise their legitimate powers. States, in effect, become hostage to grassroots movements and their priorities. Early on, our cases will focus on Christianity and Judaism; in the latter half of the course, on an analysis of Islam in the nations of Europe and the Middle East.

Student learning goals

General method of instruction

Small lecture course, with five short papers, 2 pages each, and one longer paper, 12-15 pages, on a topic of your choice relating to the course content.

Recommended preparation

Class assignments and grading

See above.


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by M Jane Meyerding
Date: 02/05/2008