This course explores the role of the human body in world religions (especially Buddhism but also Hinduism, Christianity, Taoism, Islam and indigenous religions) and in contemporary American culture. It examines the ambiguity of the body in these contexts: its function as both an obstacle and a vehicle on the path toward spiritual growth and well-being. This ambiguity raises a number of interesting questions about the relationship between “mind,” “body” and “spirit,” and students will explore these questions not only through assigned readings, papers and discussions but also through the study of Aikido, a Japanese martial art that emphasizes the neutralization of aggressive force through non-destructive resolutions. Students who enroll in this course must sign up for PED 112, which meets Monday and Wednesday evenings for an hour throughout the semester. Aikido training instills a sense of personal and social responsibility, which students will engage through a service-learning project.