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Elective: The Future of Religion in the West

Vak
2015-2016

Admission requirements

This course is only available for students in the BA International Studies who have succesfully completed the second year elective course.
The number of participants is limited to 25.

Description

This course has an ambitious aim: to predict the future of religion in the Western world. To get at this we will examine current trends of religious change and draw on cutting-edge social and cognitive theory of religion.
The course falls in two parts. In the first part, we discuss a number of core readings together. We will analyse empirical trends of religious change in the West, including the decline of institutional religion in Western Europe and North America and the post-Communist religious revival in Eastern Europe, and we will discuss the historical and social reasons for the difference in religiosity between the United States and Europe. We will also critically evaluate those social theories that have aimed to explain and predict religious change in the West (e.g. modernation theory that predicts religious decline; subjectivisation theory that predicts religious transformation; and rational choice theory that predicts religious revival). As none of the dominant social theories of religious change seems able to explain all observable changes in Western religion, we will move beyond them and build our own theory. Doing so, we will integrate social theory with cognitive theories of religious evolution and cognitively optimal religion.
In the second part of the course, students write a paper on a self-chosen topic within the framework of the course. Along the way, we will reflect on the work process, and all students receive feedback on a draft version of their paper.

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 is available on the BA International Studies website.

Mode of instruction

Lecture, seminar style discussion and supervised research.

Course Load

Total course load: 10 EC x 28 hours/EC = 280 hours – Hours spent on attending lectures: 24 – Hours spent reading compulsory literature (532 pages): 76 – Hours spent on weekly assignments: 40 – Hours spent finding and reading additional literature for the individual paper (280 pages): 40 – Hours spent preparing peer feedback: 20 – Hours spent writing individual paper: 80

Assessment method

The mark for this course is a weighted average of two marks:
Weekly assignments and participation in class discussions: 30%.
Written end-term paper (btw. 4000 and 6000 words): 70%.
To pass the course, students must score a sufficient mark (6,0) as the weighted average of the two tests.
Resit: Students who have participated actively in class and submitted a paper on time, but scored an overall insufficient mark, are entitled to a resit. For the resit, students are given a chance to hand in a new version of the end-term paper. The maximum possible grade to be obtained for re-submission of the final paper is a 6,0.

Blackboard

Blackboard is used for all communication. Information about the course will be made available here, students hand in their weekly assignments and final paper via Blackbaord.
Students are requested to register on Blackboard for this course.

Reading list

No text book will be used for this course, but a reader with core readings will be made available. Students will furthermore be required to download core journal articles themselves via the University Library and to find additional literature themselves.

Registration

Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.

General information about uSis is available in English and Dutch

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.

Contact

mr. W. Arfman, email w.r.arfman@gmail.com

Remarks

Not applicable.