B CUSP 115
Addresses an important social issue through an interdisciplinary perspective, continues to build creative and critical skills, and focuses on the relationship between the individual and society. Offered: W.
WINTER 2014: This course serves as a comprehensive introduction to the world's most popular religions. Here we will study the basic tenets of Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Jainism, Taoism and Confucianism. We will also discuss new developments in religion through movements such as Wicca, Santeria and other New Age religions. Our focus in studying religions in a comparative aspect will be to study the historical, social, cultural and political circumstances that led to the rise of each religion and understand their interaction with existing spiritual practices at that time. We will attempt to outline the basics of each religion, its spiritual practices, its relationship with divinity, rituals and beliefs and values that form the basis of each faith. While this course serves as a broad survey of each religion, we will also focus on understanding religion as a concept from a non-dominant, non-Western perspective. We will use illustrations from diverse faith-practices in the world to discover how, for example, Christianity functions as a minority religion in India or Egypt; or how the history of migration has endowed Judaism with certain religious practices. Our aim, in this course is to understand not only the basics of each religion we study but also how they interact and influence each other. The course will incorporate an important research element through ethnographic discovery of various religions, which will allow students to engage in site-visits, interviews, surveys etc. to understand religions unfamiliar to them. Most importantly the aim of this course is to trace the values of each religion that affect our daily lives. Through such a process we seek to understand how religion continues to influence the mundane aspects of culture, politics, spirituality and human values.
Student learning goals
1. Become familiar with the basics of all major religions
2. Analyze the interaction and influence of religions on each other
3. Clearly articulate the influence of religion on their personal values
4. Critically analyze how any particular religion shapes culture and politics in the world
5. Discuss diversity in religion and spiritual practices in the world
General method of instruction
Lecture, multi-media presentations, individual and group research projects.
Class assignments and grading
Assignments will include short essays, critical reflections on personal religious and spiritual practices, field research, class presentation
Grades will be assigned in accordance with UWB standards. Typically students are graded on their ability to critically analyze issues at hand, engage with the assigned reading, ability to research and present new material, and class presentations.