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Teaching World Religions without Teaching “World Religions”

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Tomoko Masuzawa and a number of other contemporary scholars have recently problematized the categories of “religion” and “world religions” and, in some cases, called for its abandonment altogether as a discipline of scholarly study. In this collaborative essay, we respond to this critique by highlighting three attempts to teach world religions without teaching “world religions.” That is, we attempt to promote student engagement with the empirical study of a plurality of religious traditions without engaging in the rhetoric of pluralism or the reification of the category “religion.” The first two essays focus on topical courses taught at the undergraduate level in self‐consciously Christian settings: the online course “Women and Religion” at Georgian Court University and the service‐learning course “Interreligious Dialogue and Practice” at St. Michael's College, in the University of Toronto. The final essay discusses the integration of texts and traditions from diverse traditions into the graduate theology curriculum more broadly, in this case at Loyola Marymount University. Such confessional settings can, we suggest, offer particularly suitable – if somewhat counter‐intuitive – contexts for bringing the otherwise covert agendas of the world religions discourse to light and subjecting them to a searching inquiry in the religion classroom.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: St. Michael's College, University of Toronto 2: Loyola Marymount University 3: Georgian Court University

Publication date: 2012-04-01

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