Posts Tagged ‘education’

December 11th, 2013

The 9th World Assembly of Religions for Peace

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Several weeks ago, over 600 religious leaders, representing more than 120 countries and a wide-range of religious traditions (Baha’i, Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Indigenous, Jain, Muslim, Sikh, Zoroastrian, and others), came together in Vienna, Austria for the 9th World Assembly of Religions for Peace.

November 20th, 2013

Secularism and secularity at the AAR

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At the upcoming annual meeting of the American Academy of Religion, to be held November 23-26 in Baltimore, a new program unit on “Secularism and Secularity” will sponsor four sessions.

September 10th, 2013

Light without Fire: The Making of America’s First Muslim College

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Scott Korb, who teaches at the New School and New York University, recently published a book, Light without Fire: The Making of America’s First Muslim College, that describes the founding of Zaytuna College in Berkeley, California.

July 3rd, 2013

Judge rules yoga not a threat to separation of church and state

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A judge in California ruled on Monday that teaching yoga in public schools does not violate the U.S. Constitution’s separation of church and state. The ruling came as a response to a lawsuit brought forth by parents in the Encinitas school district, in which the parents argued that teaching yoga in public schools was a form of indoctrination.

April 12th, 2013

CFP: Religious Studies 50 years after Schempp

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On September 27-29, 2013, the Department of Religious Studies at Indiana University-Bloomington will host a conference entitled “Religious Studies 50 Years after Schempp: History, Institutions, Theory.” Conference organizers have issued a call for papers.

August 16th, 2012

Buddhism and the practices of contemporary education

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Recently, Matt Bieber interviewed Peter Hershock, author of Buddhism in the Public Sphere, for his blog The Wheat and Chaff.

June 6th, 2012

“In God We Teach”

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Filmmaker Vic Losick recently released “In God We Teach,” a documentary about a public high school student who surreptitiously recorded a lecture given his history teacher and accused him of Christian proselytiing.

October 11th, 2011

The Feynman Series: scientific…and spiritual (?)

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This past February, the seven-part video series honoring Carl Sagan and his contributions to science was released, attracting the attention of scientists, spiritualists, and curious minds across the world. Now, Reid Gower, the maker of The Sagan Series, “has released a supplement…called The Feynman Series, featuring everyone’s favorite bongo-playing physicist,” Richard Feynman.

August 4th, 2011

Transmitting “secular” oral traditions

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Why does our academic culture operate under the assumption that “secular” education is fundamentally distinct from or superior to non-“secular” education? The stereotypical notion is that “religious” knowledge is communicated through a ritualized process that emphasizes a teacher-student relationship, whereas “secular” knowledge is conveyed through critical, open discussions and less hierarchical relationships. But how different is the Western academy, really?

July 27th, 2011

The house that D’Souza built?

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Earlier this year, Jonathan D. Fitzgerald, a former adjunct professor at King’s College, wrote an exposé for Killing the Buddha on the small Evangelical and—at least in the eyes of its authorities, if not in those of all of its students—politically conservative college housed in New York’s Empire State Building. Now, Andrew Marantz, of New York Magazine, takes a closer look at D’Souza’s tenure, the college’s sense of its vocation, and the student body being trained to become, in D’Souza’s words, “dangerous Christians.”

July 11th, 2011

Prayer is technology. I think.

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My dissertation is a comparison of the use of prayer, scripture, science education, and “high technology” in four religious high schools, and I’m rather provocatively labeling these four categories  “moral technologies”: that is, tools created by (or provided to) humans that are used to accomplish certain moral goals. This definition builds upon Mitcham’s more expansive understanding of technology, and it is obviously deeply indebted to Foucault.

May 3rd, 2011

CFP: “Ethics, Religion, and Civil Discourse”

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How might schools play a role in encouraging or discouraging civil discourse across religious and political lines? The National Endowment for the Humanities announces a two-year project designed to explore these issues, housed in the Philosophy Department at Fresno State. The department has issued a call for papers for an inaugural conference for the program, which will take place October 13-15, 2011, and will be followed by an edited volume and a workshop for teachers on how to cultivate civility in an increasingly religiously diverse classroom environment.

February 25th, 2011

Secular humanism, the Christian Right, and progressive education

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Over at U.S. Intellectual History, Andrew Hartman wants to know why, starting the 1970s, the Christian Right came to see “secular humanism” as a religion in its own right. He writes that we need “an intellectual history of the Christian Right’s critique of secular humanism,” for a number of reasons.

December 15th, 2010

Nothing human is foreign to me

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The problem as I see it is not that students in the liberal arts are somehow forbidden to argue their religious views but that, whether they are religious or secular, they do not get sufficient exposure to religious texts. These texts contain many strange and interesting things—often surprising to religious and unreligious students alike. They uncover possibilities of being human. But in order for these possibilities to emerge, they need to be approached in a secular spirit. That is, their specifically theological language needs to be translated into a conceptual language through which people can imagine a given possibility without a prior or subsequent adherence to it as the absolute truth.

December 8th, 2010

Yearning, yawning, and resisting

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Three cheers for Kahn et al., on the occasion of their bold ride into the heart of liberal arts territory, where they will wrest the definition of secular away from religion-banishing secularists and invite all voices, including theological ones, to a free-wheeling conversation about the nature of liberal arts education. Pointing to the collapse of the secularization thesis and the agreement of diverse philosophers that a secular space “scrubbed free of religion” is impossible, Kahn et al. believe not only that they will accomplish their purposes, but that the time is ripe for a truly inclusive conversation about the liberal arts. I applaud their optimism and respect their daring, but I caution Kahn to keep his riders together and enter only those colleges that invite them. Not all colleges ripen for difficult conversations at the same pace, and in many the inhabitants carry out their business oblivious to postmodern philosophical convergences or to the crumbling of secularization theory.

November 24th, 2010

Reconceiving the secular and the practice of the liberal arts

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Between 2006-2009, with the support of the Teagle Foundation, four self-identifying secular liberal arts campuses—Bucknell University and Macalester, Vassar, and Williams Colleges—engaged in a project, “Secularity and the Liberal Arts,” that tried to get at the purpose and nature of liberal arts education by asking what it means for a liberal arts campus to unabashedly call its practices “secular.” Is there a way, we wondered, that by spending some time thinking critically and honestly about this crucial term—one that ostensibly governs our practices—we might get a better handle on the nature of liberal arts education?

September 29th, 2010

Face to Faith program launched

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The Tony Blair Faith Foundation recently announced the launch of its “global schools program” in the United States.

July 14th, 2010

The battle over Islamic Azad University

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A university campus has become the ground for a political battle between conservatives and moderates in Iran.  President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has pushed to take over Islamic Azad University, a private university, after it became a haven for political involvement in the Green Movement.  This action seems to be directed at former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, founder and chairman of the board of Azad, who “all but allied himself with the Green movement” this past year.

June 29th, 2010

The “inter-religious” university and the Christian right

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In early June, the Claremont School of Theology announced that it would merge with its local Jewish and Muslim counterparts to form an inter-religious university this coming fall.  Philip Clayton discusses the controversy this has aroused in conservative Christian communities.

June 23rd, 2010

Christian voices oppose educational reform

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President Obama’s recent initiative, Race to the Top, has received growing opposition from the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the US. Maintaining that competition is detrimental to education, this organization exceeding 45 million members wrote to the White House, “outlin[ing] its reasons for opposition, which include democratic governance of public schools over marketplace pressures, each child’s right to educational opportunity, the use of business-style jargon and evaluations in the discussion of education reform, and the disrespect shown by the reform movement toward public school teachers and principals.”

June 18th, 2010

Israeli ultra-Orthodox protest school integration

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Yesterday afternoon in Jerusalem, vast numbers of ultra-Orthodox Jews protested the court-mandated integration of a religious girls’ school, raising provocative questions in the Israeli public about what constitutes racism, what defines religious adherence, and what enables effective learning.

April 27th, 2010

A right to home-school?

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At Miller-McCune, Michael Scott Moore reports on a German family that was granted asylum by a federal immigration judge in Tennessee, who found they “were at risk of persecution by German authorities because they wanted to home-school their kids.” The family was represented by the Home School Legal Defense Association, which took on the case “in the name of homeschoolers around the world.”Although the organization argues that the “Western nation should uphold basic human rights, which include allowing parents to raise and educate their own children,” Moore seeks to contextualize Germany’s schooling policy in light of these claims.

April 21st, 2010

Education and American civil religion

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Education Review, an open-access online journal, reviews the recently published Public Education, America’s Civil Religion: A Social History (Teachers College Press, 2009) by Carl Bankston III and Stephen Caldas. While critical of some aspects of the argument laid out in the book, the reviewer is intrigued by the authors’ account of the development of schooling in the United States through the concept of “civil religion” and their skeptical perspective on Americans’ devotion to education.

February 20th, 2010

The (religious) textbook wars

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At The Faith Divide, Eboo Patel weighs in on the ongoing “culture war” over the religious content of textbooks in Texas.

February 12th, 2010

“How Christian Were the Founders?”

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In this weekend’s New York Times Magazine, Russell Shorto takes a long look at the Texas textbook controversy. Shorto comes to this journalistic party a little late, but his article is noteworthy both for its detail and for the way that he spins the article out into a discussion of the “Christian nation” debate.

January 29th, 2010

The strange case of Texas’s textbooks

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At Washington Monthly, Mariah Blake comments on the ongoing controversy over Texas’s once-in-a-decade revision of its textbook standards. With standards for such subjects as English and science already revised, the current debate centers on Texas’s social studies standards. As Blake notes, textbook battles are “nothing new, especially in Texas.” But the current situation is unique in two ways.

December 30th, 2009

Religion and the historical profession

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Abandoned Bible, White Oak Bayou, Houston, TX | Photograph by accent on eclectic used under a Creative Commons licenseReligion, reported Inside Higher Ed last week, is now the most popular theme of historical study in America, according to a recent survey conducted by the American Historical Association. For the past fifteen years that distinction belonged to “culture” and prior to that, to “social” history. Indeed, that the turn to religion represents at once a natural ramification of, and a challenge to, the methods and concepts particular to these formerly prevalent modes of historical study is a possibility suggested by Robert Townsend’s analysis of the AHA survey. In our latest off the cuff feature, several scholars to respond to the news that the proportion of historians who specialize in religion continues to climb, and to reflect on both the causes and the significance of of this distinct, and now confirmed, trend in historical studies.

December 7th, 2009

Teaching Islam in high school

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At the Weekly Standard, Stephen Schwartz writes on recent changes in the ways American textbooks represent Islam.

July 8th, 2009

Humanists as cultural agents

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Without art, Victor Shklovsky writes in “Art as Technique,” “life is reckoned as nothing. Habitualization devours works, clothes, furniture, one’s wife, and the fear of war….And art exists that one may recover the sensation of life.” In this spirit of freedom from anaesthetizing habit we can, and urgently should, take up the torn threads that tie humanism up with civic education. We humanists can join artists as cultural agents who promote creativity and interpretation as resources for social development. The objective is not a partisan victory but the formation of “thick” civic subjects who are alive to the world and exercise the free judgment that we learn, as Kant taught us, through developing a disinterested enjoyment of beauty. Democracy depends on sturdy and resourceful citizens able to engage more than one point of view and to wrest rights and resources from limited assets. In other words, non-authoritarian government counts on creativity to loosen conventional thought and free up the space where conflicts are negotiated, before they reach a brink of either despair or aggression.

July 3rd, 2009

Teaching for democracy

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When Obama intoned, “This is our moment. This is our time…Yes we can,” we needed to ask, of course, “yes, we can…what?” For me, the answer involves returning to my roots as an antiwar organizer and civil rights activist, my roots as a teacher who believes that schools and classrooms, at their best, are powered by the engines of enlightenment and freedom. The promise of education is always tied up with the radical proposition that we can change our lives right now, today, and that together we can change the world.  It is a promise with particular resonance and urgency in a democratic society, for democracy assumes the necessity of continual and dynamic revitalization, and demands, then, regeneration as its lifeblood.

September 23rd, 2008

How now, creationist?

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I had a college teacher certain he had found the solution to the problem of creationists, and, at the time, the disturbing news that the Kansas Board of Education would consider a change to their science education standards to incorporate creation-science. “I wrote a letter to the director of admissions,” he proudly told our small seminar, “and I said we should refuse all Kansas applicants.” The school at which this professor reigned was the sort of place whose decisions regarding admissions would make no small ripple, and we sniggered with the imperious pleasure of the privileged. “What an idea!” we hummed after class as we lurked in an archway, circled by our smoke, “Ban the idiots! That will surely show them.” The commentary surrounding Governor Sarah Palin’s creationism smacks of the same sort of pubescent snort. […]

February 23rd, 2008

Beyond The God Delusion

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The university classroom has become a battleground in the science and religion wars. In a controversial 2005 state of the university address Cornell University President Hunter Rawlings stated, “Religiously-based opposition to evolution . . . raises profound questions about . . . what we teach in universities and it has a profound effect on public policy.” The growing controversy over the role of religion in higher education led me to ask how top university scientists think they ought to respond to religiously based challenges to science. […]

February 16th, 2008

Religion’s return

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The Immanent Frame symbolizes a sea-change in American higher education. When I was in graduate school in the early 1990s, I don’t recall the SSRC taking a special interest in the academic study of religion. Today a visitor to the SSRC webpage is confronted with an entire program area on “Religion and the Public Sphere,” with links to such topics as “Religion and International Affairs” and “The Religious Engagements of American Undergraduates.” Far from a marginal area at the SSRC, such initiatives have attracted the involvement of such world-class scholars as Talal Asad and Robert Bellah. […]