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Book: On the Subject of Religion

Chapter: Response: Can’t Live with it, Can’t Drop it from the Undergraduate Curriculum

DOI: 10.1558/equinox.41069


World Religions at Nebraska Wesleyan University is a well-connected course serving philosophy and religion, international studies, and global diversity graduation requirements. In spring 2019 we piloted a redesigned World Religions in order to critique the World Religions Paradigm . Using Peter Felton’s (Elon University) model for students as co-designers and strategizing selective responses to AAC&U funding (Interfaith Youth Core curriculum initiative ), this course rejects the standard textbook, show-and-tell exoticism, and multiple-choice exams replacing them with examinations of clichés about religion and intentionally provocatively juxtaposed case studies based on JZ Smith’s advice for teaching, assessed through written arguments about interpretations and power. The pedagogical goal: critical and self-interrogation of cultural bias, the influence of colonialism, and a Christian (Protestant) liberal model. Curricular goals: introduce theorizing in the religious studies gateway, critically engage what students expect a World Religions course to do, and ensure that the IDEA prompts indicated as essential are maintained or improved.

Chapter Contributors

  • Rita Lester ( - rlester) 'Nebraska Wesleyan University'
  • Jacob Barrett ( - jbarrett) 'University of Alabama (Masters student)'