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World Religions Liberal Arts & Social Sciences Program Fall 2023 Semester - Barcelona

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World Religions

World Religions Course Overview


CEA Partner Institution: CEA Barcelona Center
Location: Barcelona, Spain
Primary Subject Area: Religious Studies
Other Subject Area: Philosophy, Anthropology, Cultural Studies, History, Sociology
Instruction in: English
Course Code: REL310BCN
Course Details: Level 300
Recommended Semester Credits: 3
Contact Hours: 45
Prerequisites: None


One cannot be "religious" or claim to comprehend the religion of others without somehow engaging and making sense of the vast diversity of religions in one's environment. This course is designed to facilitate this process by introducing you to the world's major religions, of both western and eastern origin, and how they are practiced globally, especially in Europe and North America. We will explore and analyze the origins and development, central teachings, devotional practices, institutions and cultural expressions of Aboriginal Spirituality, Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Taoism, Confucianism, Shinto, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, in an effort to understand how they can shed light on different perceptions of the essential nature, meaning, and struggles of human experience: evil and suffering, knowledge and justice, love and compassion, friendship and loyalty, death and redemption. The course also pays close attention to the multicultural and multiethnic realities of contemporary Europe and Spain, in particular, by offering platforms for interfaith dialogue and special visits a synagogue and a Buddhist temple.

This course adopts various contemporary approaches to study the world's religious traditions and their impact on the societies in which they are practiced. One approach consists of examining the specific historical development and worldview of each religion separately, while another considers world religions as essentially related and allied by some shared key concerns. At all times, we will maintain both personal and scholarly distance from each of the traditions covered, thereby facilitating an intellectual and objective approach to the views and beliefs of all. Great emphasis will thus be placed on critical thinking, and on the impartial clarity of your conclusions.

Part of the goal of studying world religions in this course is to view each respective philosophy and its beliefs from a global perspective. Much of the world's cultural symbolism derives from its religions, and thus the study of world religions is as much an examination of multiculturalism as it is an analysis of theological practices. So one of the intended outcomes of this course is the development of a culturally competent student better placed to respect and value a variety of cultures, to appreciate the normality of difference, and to welcome and embrace opportunities for cross-cultural communication.

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