Hurst Class Catalog: Contemporary Moral Issues

Sarah Beck, Staff writer

Students in search of a religious studies course that is fascinating and fulfills the Reach curriculum requirement– keep reading! Contemporary Moral Issues is a course that dives into how religious perspectives can, and do, shape individuals’ moral perspectives on controversial topics. This course is offered by the Department of Religious Studies to any students who would like to take it. This course truly allows students to learn and discuss various moral and religious ideas from an academic perspective. Students begin this course by learning and studying what religion is and is not. After the initial introduction, the class broadens to examine what resources many religious traditions originate and draw from to make theological and moral claims.

On a broader level, the class takes a look at why these theological and moral claims matter, even to a person who may not be religious. One of the unique things about this class is the ability students gain to analyze religious arguments about morality. According to the professor of this class, Dr. Richard McCarty, professor of Religious Studies, students can often mistake religion classes, especially religion courses paired with ethics, to be more of a religious indoctrination course. But, courses such as Contemporary Moral Issues are all about equipping students with the ability to analyze and respond to moral and ethical theories and issues. “Because we live in a very religious world, having the ability to analyze and dialog with religious voices is critically important for cultural competency,” said McCarty.

McCarty is a tenured full time professor and has been teaching at Mercyhurst for thirteen and a half years. He has published two books on Christianity and sexual ethics and is currently working on his third book. His newest book is a fascinating examination of UFO’s, extraterrestrials, ghosts, monsters, angels and demons. This book is based off of a class titled Contemporary Folklore, Legends and Mythology that is being offered here at Mercyhurst next semester (Fall 2022). McCarty stated that his favorite project throughout the semester is the student presentations. McCarty said, “Mercyhurst University students always find the most interesting examples from real life; and my students are very good at offering substantive analyses of complex subjects.”

Contemporary Moral Issues is truly a unique class that gives students a new perspective and equips them for having conversations about religion and ethics with proper verbiage and confidence. According to McCarty, Contemporary Moral Issues gives space for students to “examine the technological enhancement and transformation of human beings; we study comparative religious responses to environmental ethics, and we look at the history of Catholic social teaching on capital punishment.” Throughout this class, students cover many interesting and controversial subjects and their relationship to religion as well as ethics. McCarty is quite passionate about this class and said, “I love working with diverse students and helping them to develop their own arguments about these issues.”

If this sounds like a class you would be interested in taking, make sure to write it down so you can add it to your schedule for next semester, or future semesters to come!