DEATH AND AFTERLIFE –Web Enhanced Version (Spring '06) Mt. St Mary's
Course Syllabus

Prof. Randal Cummings--818/481-5321

COURSE DESCRIPTION: Issues of life and death are fundamentally bound to the
deepest questions of what it is to be human. Questions of personal meaning,
purpose, and identity are all given scope by the fact that in our universe to live is
ultimately to die. But is that all there is to the story? Is there life after death? Is
there a transcendent reality that establishes a continuity of existence from this life
into the next? One can hope, but can one know? The great traditions within the
world's religions have provided a wealth of wisdom concerning these matters,
and it will be our purpose in this course to examine these issues within the
context of those great traditions. At the same time we will appeal to a wide variety
of contemporary scientific, medical, philosophical, and theological thinking on
these issues. This course will avail itself of the grand panorama in hopes of a
glimpse (or eclipse) of the grand design.
COURSE REQUIREMENTS: reading assignments, class participation, video viewing, web assignments, one mid-term examination, one research paper on a relevant topic of your choice, one final-examination, academic integrity, and, of course, good mental hygiene. Upper division students will be required to write a much more expansive research paper than the lower division students.

Texts (these texts will not be in the bookstore, so you will have to locate them yourself, though I have linked them to their locations at

1. Life After Death: A Study of the Afterlife in World Religions
by Farnaz Masumian Kalimat Press (September, 2002) ISBN: 1890688274
jacket cover
2. Introducing Death and Dying : Readings and Exercises by Thomas K. Carr Prentice Hall (July 28, 2005) ISBN: 0131831038

Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife by Mary Roach W. W. Norton (October 10, 2005); ISBN: 0393059626 2005)

The Afterlife Experiments : Breakthrough Scientific Evidence of Life After Death by Gary E. Schwartz; Atria; (2003) ISBN: 0743436598

All assignments will be given in class. Students should read and familiarize themselves with the jacket-cover descriptions of the books before the first class meeting if possible.

MEETINGS: Sat. 2:50-4:20 PM, Sun. 8:-10: AM (Web Assignment Release Time), Sun. 12:40-3:10 PM: