Arab Spring, course design, course readings, current-events, high school seniors, Israel, middle-east, Palestine, religion and politics, seminar
I am designing a seminar for 14 highly motivated, well-prepared U.S. high school seniors, and I need your help! My initial thoughts:
“Course title: Religion and Politics in the Contemporary World
Course description: How do people’s religious beliefs and practices influence their political beliefs and practices? How to their political views inform their religious commitments? To develop our understandings of how these two powerful forces relate to each other we will look at a series of present-day case studies:
-Religion in the 2012 United States Presidential and national elections
-Religion and the State in contemporary Israel
-the Arab Spring in Egypt
-Secularization and religious diversity in Western Europe
-Religion and the states of contemporary India and Pakistan
-other case studies to be selected as current events warrant”
What other themes should I seek to address? What key questions should be on the table? And most importantly from my perspective in building this class, do you have recommendations for readings? Reading level: New Yorker and Atlantic articles, newspaper articles, Ted talks, scholarly essays with minimal jargon, well-edited historical sources (ie, something from the 17th century can work if it is introduced clearly and edited down to 15-20 pages.) Essentially if it would work for a high-powered college freshman it will work with these guys.
Thanks in advance for your thoughts!
John Burk said:
This sounds like an awesome course which I’d love to sit in on at least a few sessions of. What about including some of the criticism by the new atheists (Dennett/Dawkins/Hitchens/Harris) and their thoughts on effects that religion has on politics?
John, thanks! Good idea – I’ll look for some readings from these thinkers. They often state their cases so provocatively that the students want to reject them out of hand, so I’ll be looking for selections of the arguments that the kids will take seriously.
Cory McCarty said:
Terence, you may already be incorporating this, but I’d include questions and discussion on the topic of religion as a justification or excuse to pursue a desired policy rather than the underlying cause for the policy.
Cory, interesting. Which order do you mean? When the deep motivation is religious, but the public declaration is secular? Ex. I believe homosexuality is a sin, but publicly argue that out gays in the military will diminish unit coherence. Or where the deep motivation is secular, but the public declaration is religious? Ex. I want that Native American land because it will make me rich, but I publicly argue that God gave me a manifest destiny to the land?
Either way, or both, what examples and/or sources occur to you?