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Elective: The World’s Religions Today: Changes and Challenges

Vak
2013-2014

Admission requirements

This course is open for students of BA International Studies only. The number of participants is limited to 25.

Description

Human religions are public and political, even where considered private. They shape the lives of most people in today’s world, and are reshaped by the always changing elements of human culture and society. Within traditions there are many different varieties. ‘Strong’ forms are often dismissed as orthodox and fundamentalist or feared as radical. There is individualization with a ‘spiritual market’. And especially in Europe there is secularization, associated with science and the welfare state. The course ‘The World’s Religions Today’ addresses this important phenomenon. (a) Students will acquire basic knowledge about many of the world’s religions today, from India, China and Japan to Africa and Native Americans, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, as well as New Age, Paganism, Spirituality, and New Religious Movements. (b) Students will learn to reflect upon current issues, such as globalization and secularization, and the interplay of religion and politics, gender, and popular culture. © Students will learn to read scholarly articles and analyze specific examples of religions in contemporary culture and society, in particular with science and technology. (d) With this knowledge and these analytical skills, students individually will engage in a case study on a contemporary issue or author, resulting in a substantial piece of written work. The topic is to be decided in consultation with the teacher, but can draw on the area of specialization of the student.

The primary resource on the world’s religions and current issues (a, b above), to be studied by all students in this course, will be:
Linda Woodhead, Christopher Partridge, Hiroko Kawanami (eds.), Religions in the Modern World: Traditions and Transformations, 2d edition. Routledge, 2009. ISBN 9780415458917 (pbk). Further literature, primarily articles, will be listed on blackboard.

To develop the skills for research and writing (especially d, above), students will work through:
W.C. Booth, G.G. Colomb, J.W. Williams, The Craft of Research, third edition, Chicago/London: University of Chicago Press, 2008.

Course objectives

The elective courses for International Studies are designed to teach students how to deal with state-of-the-art literature and research questions. They are chosen to enhance the students’ learning experience by building on the interdisciplinary perspectives they have developed so far, and to introduce them to the art of academic research. They are characterised by an international or comparative approach.

Academic skills that are trained include:

Oral presentation skills:
1. to explain clear and substantiated research results;
2. to provide an answer to questions concerning (a subject) in the field covered by the course
a. in the form of a clear and well-structured oral presentation;
b. in agreement with the appropriate disciplinary criteria;
c. using up-to-date presentation techniques;
d. aimed at a specific audience;
3. to actively participate in a discussion following the presentation.

Collaboration skills:
1. to be socio-communicative in collaborative situations;
2. to provide and receive constructive criticism, and incorporate justified criticism by revising one’s own position;
3. adhere to agreed schedules and priorities.

Basic research skills, including heuristic skills:
1. to collect and select academic literature using traditional and digital methods and techniques;
2. to analyze and assess this literature with regard to quality and reliability;
3. to formulate on this basis a sound research question;
4. to design under supervision a research plan of limited scope, and implement it using the methods and techniques that are appropriate within the discipline involved;
5. to formulate a substantiated conclusion.

Written presentation skills:
1. to explain clear and substantiated research results;
2. to provide an answer to questions concerning (a subject) in the field covered by the course
a. in the form of a clear and well-structured oral presentation;
b. in agreement with the appropriate disciplinary criteria;
c. using relevant illustration or multimedia techniques;
d. aimed at a specific audience.

Timetable

The timetable will be available on the BA International Studies website this autumn.

Mode of instruction

Seminar, with – lectures by the teacher; – student presentations and discussions on materials studied; – supervised research and writing.

Assessment method

a. Weekly assignments (e.g. preparing for presentations and discussions, brief reports, quizzes or tests, exercises on scholarly research and writing) (40 %);
b. Intermediary draft of the research based paper (20 %);
c. Final paper of approximately 6,000 words (excluding tables and bibliography) (40 %).

Blackboard

Blackboard is used.

Students are requested to register on Blackboard for this course.

Reading list

Linda Woodhead, Christopher Partridge, Hiroko Kawanami (eds.), Religions in the Modern World: Traditions and Transformations, 2d edition. Routledge, 2009. ISBN 9780415458917 (pbk).

W.C. Booth, G.G. Colomb, J.W. Williams, The Craft of Research, third edition, Chicago/London: University of Chicago Press, 2008.

Registration

Students are requested to register through uSis, the registration system of Leiden University for this course. General information about uSis is available in English and Dutch.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.

Remarks

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