Individual Presentation or Panel Title

World Religions: Humane Encounters with Lives, Stories, and Values

Abstract

Although the traditional World Religions course may seem like a neutral academic survey, it actually catalogs the peoples of the world according to values and descriptive terms from nineteenth-century European Christianity, and subjects them to student gaze, as in a natural history museum. With the emphasis on historical origins, texts, and doctrines, students understand religions as static, logical, and intellectual, and are none the wiser as to the lives and feelings and motivations of their neighbors and fellow citizens. A World Religions course, likely a student’s only non-faith-based information about religion, is a rare opportunity to help us be better American and world citizens, both more knowledgeable about and more empathetic towards our fellow humans. I have designed a new course that embeds the students in lived experiences, positions them to see with rather than look at, and engages them in the worldwide human religious enterprise. Grounded in democracy and cosmopolitanism, peace education, a pedagogy of caring, critical pedagogy, and postmodern pedagogy, this curriculum helps students see religions as patterns held in tension, not as essentialized absolutes, and selects fewer things for the students to engage with rather than many things for them to hear about. A constellation of activities, readings, etc. is designed to shed light on religions through more personal and experiential means, and embedded special topics are a way for the students to contemplate religion as a phenomenon, to build connections across units, and to develop critical thinking and personal positions.

Presentation Description

Although the traditional World Religions course may seem like a neutral, academic survey, it actually catalogs the peoples of the world according to values and descriptive terms coming from nineteenth-century European Christianity. With the emphasis on historical origins, texts, and doctrines, students understand religions as static, logical, and intellectual, and are none the wiser as to the lives and feelings and motivations of their neighbors and fellow citizens. A World Religions course, likely a student’s only non-faith-based information about religion, is a rare opportunity to help us be better American and world citizens, both more knowledgeable about and more empathetic towards our fellow humans. I have designed a new World Religions course that embeds the students in lived experiences, positions them to see with rather than look at, and engages them in the worldwide human religious enterprise.

Keywords

Religion, Curriculum, Democracy, Cosmopolitanism, Empathy

Location

Talmadge

Publication Type and Release Option

Presentation (Open Access)

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Jun 9th, 9:30 AM Jun 9th, 10:45 AM

World Religions: Humane Encounters with Lives, Stories, and Values

Talmadge

Although the traditional World Religions course may seem like a neutral academic survey, it actually catalogs the peoples of the world according to values and descriptive terms from nineteenth-century European Christianity, and subjects them to student gaze, as in a natural history museum. With the emphasis on historical origins, texts, and doctrines, students understand religions as static, logical, and intellectual, and are none the wiser as to the lives and feelings and motivations of their neighbors and fellow citizens. A World Religions course, likely a student’s only non-faith-based information about religion, is a rare opportunity to help us be better American and world citizens, both more knowledgeable about and more empathetic towards our fellow humans. I have designed a new course that embeds the students in lived experiences, positions them to see with rather than look at, and engages them in the worldwide human religious enterprise. Grounded in democracy and cosmopolitanism, peace education, a pedagogy of caring, critical pedagogy, and postmodern pedagogy, this curriculum helps students see religions as patterns held in tension, not as essentialized absolutes, and selects fewer things for the students to engage with rather than many things for them to hear about. A constellation of activities, readings, etc. is designed to shed light on religions through more personal and experiential means, and embedded special topics are a way for the students to contemplate religion as a phenomenon, to build connections across units, and to develop critical thinking and personal positions.