SOCY 4121 Sociology of Religion

Instructor Contact:

Liane Pedersen-Gallegos, PhD


Instructor Bio:

Liane Pedersen-Gallegos earned a Ph.D. in Sociology at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Dr. Pedersen-Gallegos (also known as “Dr. Li” by many students) earned a M.A. in Sociology at the University of Colorado at Boulder and a B.A. in Sociology/Psychology (double major) at the Metropolitan State College of Denver.

Dr. Li’s research interests are the Sociology of Thanatology (the study of death and dying) and the Sociology of Religion. Dr. Li has been teaching at the University of Colorado since 1985. She has taught 99 classes since then (as of August 2015), the majority of which were at the University of Colorado. Of these, 26 class were Sociology of Religion classes.

In addition, Dr. Li worked 12 years as a research associate at the University of Colorado at Boulder. The focus of her research was the evaluation of pedagogical innovations in the teaching of physical sciences at the undergraduate and graduate levels, with an emphasis on student career development. Dr. Li was the co-director of Ethnography & Evaluation Research for 7 years and was the director for 3 years.

At this time Dr. Li devotes full-time to teaching through the Sociology Department and the Department of Continuing Education at the University of Colorado at Boulder.

About the Course:

This course addresses sociological aspects of religion. We will analyze the social meanings attributed to religion and the social dynamics involved in religiosity (yes, “religiosity” is a real word!) with a focus on the contemporary United States.


By the end of this course, successful students will be able to:

  • Describe and discuss specific theoretical perspectives of social dynamics related to religion through various written exercises, including discussion posts, and a presentation.
  • Describe and discuss significant social influences in the history of religion in western civilization.
  • Describe and discuss social influences on the experience of dying and of grieving.
  • Apply sociological theory to issues such as terrorism in the context of religion.

Required Texts:

  • Roberts, Keith A. and Yamane, David, Religion in Sociological Perspective 5th Edition, Pine Forge Press, Los Angeles, 2012. 978-1-4129-8298-6 (This is the main textbook for the course, most of it will be assigned.)
  • Prothero, Stephen, Religious Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know—and Doesn’t, Harper Collins, San Francisco, 2007. 978-0-06-084670-1. (About half of this book will be assigned reading.)
  • Juergensmeyer, Mark, Terror in the Mind of God: The Global Rise of Religious Violence, University of California Press, Berkeley, 2003. 0-520-24011-1 (Selected chapters from this book will be assigned—a little less than half the book.)

Grading Criteria:

Letter grades are assigned only at the end of the semester as final grades for the course. Individual assignments and exams will receive points and the final letter grade will be based on points accumulated, as indicated below. The instructor will make every effort to grade assignments and exams within one week of the date submitted. The instructor reserves the right to curve the final grades in the event of lower-than-expected average points accumulated.

  • Discussion Postings – 130 points
  • Quiz #1 – 30 points
  • Quiz #2 – 30 points
  • Final Exam – 30 points
  • Presentation – 30 points

250 Total Points Possible

  • A = 225 – 250
  • B = 200 – 224
  • C = 175 – 199
  • D = 150 – 174

Now that you’ve selected your favorite Continuing Education courses, email or print the information, including class number, to more easily search Buff Portal and enroll. Still have questions? Contact an advisor.


Monday – Friday
8:00am to 5:00pm


We are located at the corner of University Avenue and 15th Street in a white brick building.


1505 University Avenue
University of Colorado Boulder
178 UCB
Boulder, Colorado