Inside Temple Looking Out, Fo Guang Shan’s Hsi Lai Temple, Hacienda Heights, California.©2006 John L. Crow.

Survey of World Religions

The courses I have taught up to this time have been surveys of World Religions. These courses have been given at both Florida State University and Tallahassee Community College. The academic study of religion offers great opportunities to learn about and explore the practices, beliefs and philosophies that inform the lives of a majority of the Earth’s population. The courses focus on indigenous traditions, Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and modern American religious traditions. The traditions are not studied in isolation, but understood as encountering and influencing each other. As most of the students in the courses are not religious studies majors, the format aims to inform about the core practices, beliefs and ways each tradition is lived and how the various traditions will be encountered in both public and private spheres, especially the workplace. Also because conflict between traditions has become such a significant force in our lives nowadays, the course does not shy away from engaging controversial topics including the relationship between religion and violence, gender and religion, as well as focusing on particular historical continuities such as the Israeli and Palestinian conflicts. The goal of the course is to bring awareness to the diversity of religious traditions within the world, and to become mindful of the ways the traditions have negotiated their places in society, in both positive and negative ways.

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