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Ideals and Injustices

This College Forum focuses on the ideals that have shaped democracies around the world and the realities of injustices that have accompanied them. With a particular focus on the intersections of race, religion, and democracy, this Forum draws on the resources of multiple disciplines, methodologies, and perspectives to explore the ways that ideals have been conceived, elaborated, and espoused in democratic contexts, on the one hand, and distorted, misused, and abandoned by the very same individuals, communities, and institutions proclaiming them, on the other. Some of the questions we will explore are: What happens when nations and communities are founded on ideals that they fail to embody? How do we make sense of ideals that are used to justify extreme violence? How have religions contributed to both upholding and infringing upon human rights? In short, this Forum gives students the opportunity to explore the ways ideals are formed and forsaken, and injustices justified and redressed, in different historical and cultural contexts, including their own.


Jennifer Geddes, Department of Religious Studies

I teach courses on evil, suffering, and the Holocaust and on ethics, literature, and religion, among other things, in the Department of Religious Studies. For example, I regularly teach RELG 3255: Ethics, Literature, and Religion with Professor Larry Bouchard and RELJ 3052: Responses to the Holocaust. I have also taught various courses outside of Religious Studies, including College Advising Seminars on evil and on favorite things—note that those are two different courses—and a Pavilion Seminar on what matters and how. My work has generally been concerned with questions about what matters in human life and how to respond to human suffering and its multiple causes; with the ethics of how we interpret the world around us, including, and perhaps especially, each other; and with the resources that different kinds of thinking and writing—for example, literature or philosophy or testimony or history or theology—offer us as we grapple with such topics.

Sonam Kachru, Departmen of Religious Studies

My research interests lie in the history of philosophy, with special attention to the history of Buddhist philosophy in South Asia. Topics of particular interest to me include the philosophy of mind, action and philosophical anthropology. I believe the history of Buddhist philosophy in South Asia is best pursued keeping in view the long conversations of Buddhist and non-Buddhist philosophers in South Asia, and also the importance of narrative thought for the history of ideas. I am currently working on two monographs. The first, entitled More And Less Than Human: Towards a Natural History of ‘Other Minds’ in Indian Buddhism, offers a new interpretation of the Buddhist philosopher Vasubandhu. The second, Practices of Self in Antiquity: Between Athens and Pataliputra, offers a new account of the vocabularies and practices that, so I argue, constituted a connected climate of philosophical therapy in antiquity.

Navigating the Forum

In the first semester (fall 2019) you will enroll in FORU 1500 (Ideals and Injustices). This course will introduce students to works that explore the philosophical, ethical, and religious underpinnings of ideals, and to works in psychology, sociology, and political theory that explore how ideals are made visible and desirable, and then sustained, in institutions, communities, and nations. Outside of the introductory course and capstone, you will partake in a speaker series that will be held in conjunction with this Forum, featuring one speaker invited from outside the University in each of its four semesters.

In the final semester (Spring 2021) you will enroll in FORU 2500 Capstone Course


Competency Requirements

  • First Writing Requirement (3 credits)
  • Second Writing Requirement (3 credits)
  • World Langugages (0-14 credits)

Core Required Courses (8 credits)

  • FORU 1500: Ideals and Injustices (Fall ’19)
  • FORU 1510 (Spring ’20)
  • FORU 1510 (Fall ’20)
  • FORU 2500: Capstone Seminar, (Spring ’21)

Category 1: Take three 3-or-more credit classes from two different departments

  • ENAM 4500 W. E. B. Du Bois (this topic only)
  • ENAM 4500 Black Queer Culture (this topic only)
  • ENAM 4500 Race in American Places (this topic only)
  • ENLT 2523 The Poetry of Exile (this topic only)
  • ENLT 2526 Migrant Fiction (this topic only)
  • ENLT 2530 The Universe of Black Fiction (this topic only)
  • FRTR 2580 Blackness in French (this topic only)
  • GETR 3462 Neighbors and Enemies
  • GETR 3470 Literature of the Holocaust
  • GETR 3695 The Holocaust and the Law
  • HIAF 2031 The African Diaspora
  • HILA 1501 Race, Sex, Cold War Latin America (this topic only)
  • HISA 1501 AFPAK: Civl Soc & Insurgency (this topic only)
  • HISA 1501 Free Speech and Blasphemy (this topic only)
  • HIST 1501 Gender in the Global South (this topic only)
  • HIST 2201 Technology in World History
  • HIUS 3011 Colonial Period in American History
  • HIUS 3651 African American History since 1865
  • MDST 3402 War and the Media
  • MESA 1000 From Genghis Khan to Stalin: Invasions and Empires
  • MESA 2300 Crossing Borders: Middle East and South Asia
  • MESA 2700 Revolutions in the Islamic World
  • MEST 2470 Reflections of Exile: Jewish Languages and the Communities
  • PHIL 1730 Introduction to Moral and Political Philosophy
  • PHIL 2060 Philosophical Problems in Law
  • PHIL 2760 Classics of Political Philosophy
  • PHIL 2770 Political Philosophy
  • PLPT 1010 Introduction to Political Theory
  • PLPT 3020 Modern Political Thought
  • PLPT 3030 Contemporary Political Thought
  • PLPT 3050 Survey of American Political Theory
  • PLPT 3200 African-American Political Thought
  • PLAP 1010 Intro to American Politics
  • RELA 2750 African Religions
  • RELA 2850 African Creole Religions in Americas
  • RELA 3000 Women and Religion in Africa
  • RELA 3351 African Diaspora Religions
  • RELA 3890 Christianity in Africa
  • RELA 3900 Islam in Africa
  • RELB 2054 Tibetan Buddhism
  • RELB 2100 Buddhism
  • RELB 2135 Chinese Buddhism
  • RELB 2715 Chinese Religions
  • RELB 3150 Gender and Buddhism
  • RELC/J 1210 Hebrew Bible/Old Testament
  • RELC 1220 New Testament and Early Christianity
  • RELC 2050 Rise of Christianity
  • RELC/G 2155 Whiteness and Religion
  • RELC 2360 Elements of Christian Thought
  • RELC 3222 From Jefferson to King
  • RELG 1010 Introduction to Western Religions Traditions
  • RELG 1040 Introduction to Eastern Religion Traditions
  • RELG 2210 Religion, Ethics, and Global Development
  • RELG 2300 Religious Ethics and Moral Problems
  • RELG 3255 Ethics, Literature, and Religion
  • RELG 2630 Business, Ethics and Society RELG 2650 Theological Bioethics
  • RELG 2660 “Spiritual But Not Religious”: Spirituality in America
  • RELG 3225 The Civil Rights Movement
  • RELG 3605 Religion, Violence and Strategy: How to Stop Killing in the Name of God
  • RELH 2090 Hinduism
  • RELH 3105 Hinduism and Ecology
  • RELH 3440 Gandhi to Terrorism: Religion and Violence
  • RELI/J 2024 Jewish-Muslim Relations
  • RELI 2080 Global Islam
  • RELI 2085 Modern Islam
  • RELJ 2030 Introduction to Judaism
  • RELJ 3170 Modern Jewish Thought
  • RELJ 3052 Responses to the Holocaust
  • RELJ 3390 Jewish Feminism
  • RUTR 3340 Books Behind Bars: Life, Lit, and Community Leadership
  • SAST 1300 Under the Colonized-Gaze
  • SAST 1600 India in Global Perspective
  • SAST 2010 Remembering India’s Partition through Literature and Poetry

Category 2: Take three 3-or-more credit classes from two different departments

  • AAS 1010 Intro to African American and African Studies I
  • AAS 1020 Intro to African American Studies II
  • AAS 3500 Revolutionary Struggles of the African Atlantic (this topic only)
  • AAS 3500 Working Barefoot in the Snow and Other Dimensions of the History of Slavery (this topic only)
  • AMST 3641 Native America
  • ANTH 2240 Progress
  • ANTH 2250 Nationalism, Racism, Multiculturalism
  • ANTH 2375 Disaster
  • ANTH 2621 Culture, Gender, Violence
  • ANTH 3220 Economic Anthropology
  • ANTH 3370 Power and the Body
  • PPL 2010 Morality, Law and the State
  • PLCP 3410 Politics of the Middle East and North Africa
  • PSYC 2150 Intro to Cognitive Science
  • PSYC 2600 Introduction to Social Psychology
  • PSYC 2700 Introduction to Child Psychology
  • SOC 2220 Social Problems
  • SOC 2230 Criminology
  • SOC 2320 Gender and Society
  • SOC 2442 Systems of Inequality
  • SOC 2900 Economics and Society
  • WGS 2897 Gender Violence and Social Justice
  • WGS 3100 Women and Freedom of Movement

Category 3: Take two 3-or-more credit classes from two different departments (only one MATH or one STAT class may apply to this requirement)

  • ASTR 1210 Introduction to the Sky and Solar System
  • ASTR 1250 Alien Worlds
  • ASTR 1270 Unsolved Mysteries of the Universe
  • ASTR 1280 The Origins of Almost Everything
  • ASTR 2110 Introduction to Astrophysics I
  • ASTR 2120 Introduction to Astrophysics II
  • ASTR 3420 Life Beyond the Earth
  • ASTR 3460 Development of Modern Astronomy
  • ASTR 3470 Science and Controversy in Astronomy
  • ASTR 3480 Introduction to Cosmology
  • BIOL 1040 The DNA Revolution
  • BIOL 1050 Genetics for an Informed Citizen
  • BIOL 1210 Human Biology and Disease
  • BIOL 2100 Introduction to Biology
  • BIOL 2200 Introduction to Biology
  • BIOL 3010 Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • CHEM 1410 Introductory College Chemistry I
  • CHEM 1420 Introductory College Chemistry II
  • EVSC 1010 Introduction to Environmental Sciences
  • EVSC 1020 Practical Concepts in Environmental Studies
  • EVSC 1040 Virginia’s Environments
  • EVSC 1080 Resources and the Environment
  • EVSC 1200 Elements of Ecology
  • EVSC 1300 Earth’s Weather and Climate
  • EVSC 1450 An Inconvenient Truce: Climate Change, You, and CO2
  • EVSC 1600 Water on Earth
  • EVSC 2010 Materials That Shape Civilizations
  • EVSC 2030 Politics, Science and Values
  • EVSC 2050 Introduction to Oceanography
  • EVSC 2070 Earth Systems Technology & Management EVSC 2200 Plants, People, and Culture
  • EVSC 2220 Conservation Ecology
  • EVSC 2900 Beaches, Coasts, and Rivers
  • MATH - any class
  • PHYS 1090 Galileo and Einstein
  • PHYS 2010 Principles of Physics
  • PHYS 2020 Principles of Physics II
  • PSYC 2200 Survey of the Neural Basis of Behavior
  • STAT - any class