Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Religion and Society GM

Here is a Global Module that was constructed by Champlain's Cam Webster and Connell Monette from Al Akhawayn University. It examines issues of religion and society through readings drawn from the New Testament and the Quran. It fits in very well with our first year Concepts of Community course and our second year Secular & Sacred course.

Religion and Society

Week 1

Let’s take the opportunity to get to know each other. You’ll find three folders in the Week 1 area, one called Introductions, one called Perceptions, and one called Questions.

During a normal week, unless otherwise directed, always remember to post at least two times.

We’ll begin our reading and discussing next week. With this in mind, we want you to do a few things this first week.

1. Post an introduction in the Introduction folder. What are your interests? Do you have experience travelling overseas? What do you hope to learn in the Global Module? Also, take the opportunity to greet your fellow students and find out more about them. Be sure to include contact information such as your email address or IM.
2. What are your perceptions of your partners in the Global Module? For the _____ students, what do you think of the US? For the American students, what do you think of when you think of _____? Post your initial views in the Perceptions folder.
3. Post any questions that you might have in the Questions folder. Some of you are probably quite experienced in working online, and might have even participated in Global Modules before, and could help out your classmates if they have any concerns.

Keep in mind that you should always feel free to contribute to the Casual Conversations folders found elsewhere on the site. Feel free to introduce a topic or post questions. The password for the Casual Conversations folder is: beaver.

Thanks, and we’re really looking forward to getting started.

Week 2

We are going to discuss the role of religion in society. Our texts will be selected readings from the Sermon on the Mount from the New Testament and the surah Women from the Quran. By reading and discussing these works we will not only learn more about these two religions, but this will also allow us to discuss the topic of how religion impacts society, and vice-versa.

Once you have read the assignment we will answer a series of questions. You will be required to post answers at least twice, although you can contribute more often if you wish. You can either post an original answer to a question or comment on the posting of another student. Either way, your postings should be detailed and analytical. If you are late posting for the week do not simply answer a question that has already been answered by another student – contribute in a new way. Build upon your fellow students’ answers. Think of it as the class as a whole answering the question.

1. The Quran, along with the Old Testament, are both much more specifically legalistic than the New Testament. Why might this be? What might be the implications of this fact?
2. What kind of society is Jesus describing in the Sermon on the Mount?
3. According to these documents, how should women or the underprivileged be treated? Are they treated this way in the religions today?
4. What is the relationship between humans and the divine that is expressed in these two documents?
5. How does religion influence society? How does society influence religion? How is the relationship expressed in these documents?

Week 3

Let’s continue our discussion this week, focusing on specific examples from our two countries. Work on the following question. Be sure to post at least twice this week.

1. What role does religion play in creating a sense of community in your country? What role should it play?
2. What is the dividing line between the secular and the sacred worlds in your society? Is there one? Should there be one?
3. Are there dangerous aspects to religion that can actually threaten the stability of a society?
4. Can we think of specific suggestions for ways to decrease the religious tension or misunderstandings in the world?

Week 4

Sadly, it’s already time to say goodbye. Each student should post at least once this week. In addition, Champlain College students should write a short reflective piece to be posted in their ePortfolio. What did you learn from the process? What were the similarities and differences that you discovered? What might explain them?

1. What have we learned about the role of religion in our two countries, and in the larger world?
2. Some critics of the United States will point out that many of its problems are related to a lack of a solid religious foundation. Do you think this is true? Or, could it be argued that the U.S. has been successful because it is a more secular society?
3. What have we learned about each other and ourselves from this discussion?
4. Would you like to say goodbye to your new friends? What do you want them to know about your country?

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