Seemingly everywhere you look, religion is in the news these days. In the world of politics, religious concerns profoundly impact voters’ perspectives on a wide range of issues, including same-sex marriage, climate change, government-sponsored healthcare, etc. And not surprisingly, politicians often tailor their rhetoric (and policy positions) to appeal to particular religious groups and constituencies. Depending on whom you ask, religion also is often held up as the key solution to various social ills such as poverty and racial tension. For others, religion is a major part of the problem. Religion likewise factors prominently in various military conflicts around the globe, not to mention long-running debates over the relationship between religion and science, the proper relationship between religion and the state, as well as religion-inspired perspectives on the benefits/pitfalls of capitalism. Over the course of this semester, we will analyze several hot-button topics on the contemporary religious scene. Focusing on trends both here in the United States and around the world, we will ask the following questions: How is religion shaping major trends in the 21st century, especially as they relate to issues of social justice and ethics? How is religion changing in response to contemporary events and developments? How can the academic study of religion help us assess and make sense of religion’s role in 21st-century societies? SAS Core Codes:  21C, AHo.