Departments & Courses

Religious Studies

SHC Graduation requirement: One course required for each semester of attendance
UC/CSU Admissions requirement: None

Our Mission:

Inspired by our founders and in the spirit of the US Bishops’ secondary schools curriculum framework, SHC’s Religious Studies Department helps our students realize and deepen their relationships with God and with others. We embrace the Lasallian Vincentian mission to provide faith formation and education that prepare students to become service-oriented leaders with a commitment to living the Gospel.

Our Goals:

The goal of the SHC Religious Studies Department is to educate students to be people of Faith, Action, Integrity, Thought and Hope who:

  • Analyze ideas presented through various media in light of Gospel values.
  • Articulate an understanding of Lasallian and Vincentian values and traditions, in particular as they give meaning and life to the SHC community.
  • Create meaningful written, oral and visual projects and presentations that demonstrate an understanding of course concepts, both collaboratively and independently.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of Catholic teachings as outlined in the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’Framework.
  • Analyze moral issues guided by the Gospel and the teachings of the Catholic Church in order to make informed ethical decisions.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of justice and its critical application to past, present and future issues.

To see student work from our History of Christian Art class, click here for examples from a "Church as Servant" assignment and here for examples of "Illuminated Block Capital Letters."

Courses in this Department

This course begins with the New Testament infancy of the church and traces the church’s development through the centuries to the present day. Students examine church governance, images and models as they evolved over the years, and learn how the church understood itself and its mission in the world from the Patristic period to the Second Vatican Council. Students will further study the church as a historical and religious institution partly conditioned by and conditioning the course of Western Civilization, and will reflect on the church’s global role in the contemporary world. Note: this class meets UC college preparatory elective criteria ("g").

Comparative Religions examines the major world religions amid their cultural and historical settings. Eastern faiths such as Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism, Confucianism, Shintoism, and Zoroastrianism are compared and contrasted to Islam, Judaism, and Eastern and Western Christianity. Students examine the major themes and texts of each religion, the experiences of the founders, principal beliefs and branches, and each faith’s festivals and rituals. Christian and non-Christian religious traditions are studied for their common elements as well as for their unique contributions to human self-understanding and the human search for the divine. Note: this course meets UC college preparatory elective criteria ("g").

This course examines general ethical principles and their application in real world situations, the formation of a personal conscience, and stages of moral reasoning. In the light of Catholic Christian teachings and their own lived experience, students are challenged to examine individual and societal values and practices. Individually and in collaboration, students analyze the ethical implications of topics including poverty, racism, capital punishment, abortion, technology, warfare and environmental stewardship. As they develop their understanding of human vocation, students reflect on how their values might shape their future life choices and commitments to God, self, family and society.

Note: This course meets UC college preparatory elective criteria ("g").

This course satisfies graduation requirements for both Religious Studies and Visual & Performing Arts. The course explores the timeline and events in the rise of Christianity, while developing critical skills and aesthetic vocabulary in order to understand how art was (and is) a vehicle for religious expression. Students will study important historical works of art and will create art in a variety of mediums as they respond to the methods, materials, and styles of those works. As they deepen their ability to perceive and to analyze art, students will be expected to articulate their own artistic opinions.

Note: this course meets UC Visual and Performing Arts criteria ("f") and satisfies SHC’s Religious Studies graduation requirement.

This course is designed to educate students about human sexuality emphasizing the Catholic Christian perspective. Topics include anatomy, sexual awareness, self-concept, sexual orientation, reproduction, dating, sexual decision-making, teen pregnancy, contraception, disease control and sexual abuse. Note: this course meets UC college preparatory elective criteria ("g").

The Lasallian/Vincentian Leadership class is for seniors interested in developing their leadership skills through a model of Christian servant leadership. Using the life and writings of the four founders, students will explore and practice their own call to leadership in our community, and build the leadership skills necessary to positively influence their communities in the future. As part of the summative assessment for this course, students serve as leaders at retreats during the school year (and may miss other classes besides Leadership.) In the spring prior to taking the course, students complete a questionnaire about their interests, passions, and intentions as leaders. Leadership students may be asked to represent the school at off-campus events during the year, and, while not a course requirement, are strongly encouraged to attend a Kairos retreat

This elective will provide opportunities for students to deepen their understanding of prayer, spirituality, relationships with God and others, and to study the emerging science of mindfulness. The course explores the prosocial practices of mindfulness, gratitude and compassion, integrating traditional contemplative practices from various wisdom traditions with contemporary psychology and scientific research. Students will engage in evidence-based practices to cultivate mindfulness and well-being; they will develop resources for their individual and communal search for God and understanding of the self. Note: this course meets UC college preparatory elective criteria (“g”).

Starting from beliefs in the sacramental nature of life and the metaphorical nature of art, this course will examine various theological ideas as expressed in fiction, poetry and film. Topics include good and evil, sin and grace, suffering and redemption, faith and revelation, and incarnation and sacrament. Students will analyze works of art through the lens of faith and of critical thought, and explore how to apply the lessons learned to their own lives.

This course begins with an introductory unit on Roman Catholicism and on critical literacy strategies for reading religious texts before surveying the history of the Hebrew people and the development of their faith. Students examine how the Hebrew people discovered the natures of God and of humans through the successes and failures of patriarchs, prophets, priests and kings. Students are asked to read critically to discern the authors’ original intents and to read reflectively and prayerfully to discern the workings of God in human history. They are challenged to compare the historical religious experience of the Hebrews with their own experiences. Building on these historical and critical foundations, students then explore the life and teachings of Jesus Christ and the development of the early church as witnessed by the writers of the four Gospels and the Epistles. Here too, students are challenged to make a critical application to their own lives of the teachings of Christ as understood by the faith experiences of his followers and the tradition of the Catholic Church.

Note: this course meets UC college preparatory elective criteria ("g").

This interdisciplinary seminar, incorporating selected writings from classical and contemporary theologians, philosophers, economists, artists and historians, invites students to converse about and with the Great Works. The seminar format requires rigorous and intense reading, reflection, and writing about primary texts, as well as highly engaged class and online discussions. As students begin to see themselves as responsible for the pursuit of ideas and of the common good, they strengthen their critical literacy and partake in a long humanistic tradition, a vibrant Catholic intellectual heritage, and a rich Lasallian Vincentian educational legacy. A major independent project (“Jan Project”) is required and classes may be held outside of the regular school day. Note: This course meets UC college preparatory elective criteria ("g"). Seniors participating in the De Paul Scholar Program are given preference in course placement. Note: this course includes a summer assignment.

This experiential course is designed to directly assist students in discovering how to create a life worth living — a life that is insightful, learned, creative, caring, ethical, resilient, engaged, and deeply well. What does it mean for a person to flourish, rather than to simply survive, or to discover God’s plan unfolding in life? What practices help one embrace and cultivate focus, compassion, courage, wisdom, and inclusion, or manage anxiety while being productive? Each student will have an opportunity to engage in evidence-based practices that are selected to cultivate a sense of purpose and skills to facilitate a meaningful life.

Note: this class meets UC college preparatory elective criteria ("g").

Students will explore the meaning and practice of justice and service by examining contemporary, philosophical and religious theories of justice with emphasis on Catholic social teaching. Each week, students will spend a portion of class time at a service internship site located near SHC; these community service internships augment a reflective understanding of service and a critical analysis of social justice.

The course explores the pivotal contributions of major and minor women in the Old and New Testament. Students will study the impact of these women on both Judaism and Christianity, and will explore the historical and rhetorical contexts for the use of male-centric language throughout the Bible. Our central questions will be how do we as 21st readers of the ancient text interpret some of the more difficult texts about women, and how can we respond to their examples of faith-filled lives?

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