History: Religion in the World Today

Ref: C3738654

A chance to look at religion behind the headlines. Each session will explore the role of religion in a particular aspect of life and society – such as culture, power, war, gender, human rights or truth.

Course aim

To explore religion in relation to society, politics and power. To enable participants to understand the background and nuances behind religious issues in the news.

Who is the course for?

What topics will this course cover

This course is a chance to explore the role of religion in the world today - in society, politics and everyday life. Rather than study religions individually, we will draw on examples from many different religions and current news stories. The examples we look at will be very varied: from splits in the US Religious Right to anti-Muslim violence in Burma, from gay Christians campaigning for equality in Nigeria to the rise of New Atheism in Britain, from the effect of Israel on Jewish identity to the treatment of religious minorities in Egypt. Each session will look at a particular issue concerning religion in the world today. Sessions are likely to include the following (this is not a finalised list). - What is religion and how do we talk about it? - Religion, culture and identity - Religion and power - Religion and resistance to power - Truth, fundamentalism and atheism - Sex, sexuality and gender in relation to religion - Religion and violence: Holy war, just war and pacifism - Human rights and religious liberty - Religion and the environment - The future of religion in the world

What will it be like?

WEA classes are friendly and supportive. You will be encouraged to work together with your fellow students and tutor. You will be asked to share your ideas and views in the class and work with the group to give and accept feedback in a supportive environment. The WEA tutor will use a range of different teaching and learning methods and encourage you to be actively involved in your learning. You may be asked to undertake work to support your course outside of your class.

By the end of the course I should be able to:

1. To comment in a well-informed way on the issues behind news stories that concern religion and to analyse new developments. 2. To outline some of the main debates and arguments behind religion's relationship with various aspects of politics and society. 3. To explain why some religious ideas have become more or less popular in particular political contexts. 4. To have a deeper understanding of the motivations and concerns of people from different religious backgrounds to themselves.

How will I know I'm making progress?

The tutor will give informal feedback throughout the course while facilitating discussion and asking students for their thoughts. Students requiring more detailed feedback are welcome to speak to the tutor after the session or to contact him by email. There is no formal assessment and students will not be "marked".

What else do I need to know, do or bring?

It will probably be helpful to bring a notebook and pen. Please note that, while you are very welcome to comment on your own views and religion if you wish to do so, nobody will be required to talk about their own religion or beliefs or will be directly asked about them. Privacy will be respected.

Reading and information sources

You may want to keep an eye on religious stories in the news, but please do not worry if you do not have time for this. The course is partly based around 'The No-Nonsense Guide to Religion' by Symon Hill (the course tutor), but there is no obligation to read it. Some suggested reading will be offered at the beginning of the course for those who have time and wish to take it up, but this is not necessary for following the course. If you are doing any related reading, please feel free to mention it in class discussions.

What could the course lead to?

Students could go on to study other courses related to religion, or to social and political issues, either at the same or a higher level. Whether or not you choose to do this, the aim is that the course will equip you to engage more deeply with the role of religion in the world - for example, when reading news stories about religion or when meeting somebody with a different religious background to you.

Download full course outline

History: Religion in the World Today Course Outline

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You can if you meet all of the following requirements:

  • are paying the standard fee or are on any of the qualifying benefits
  • are paying with a credit/debit card or are not paying a fee because of a qualifying benefit
  • have a valid email address
  • have been resident in the UK, EU or EEA for the last 3 years
  • are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2015
  • have read and accept the standard terms and conditions
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