The Centre for Religious Studies is devoted to the critical study of a wide range of religious traditions, as interpreted both in the past and in the contemporary world. It is also concerned with thinking about the ways in which specific religious traditions (such as Buddhism, Judaism and Christianity) engage in intellectual reflection on a wide range of specific issues, such as the nature of God, ethics, social issues, gender, the environment and the meaning of life.
The Centre has research strengths in the area of the relationship between culture and belief, in relation both to contemporary society and philosophical issues and to the past. There is supervisory expertise in the historical and literary analysis of religion in biblical, medieval and early modern periods, as well as in contemporary approaches to the study of religious questions, including religion in Australian society.
The following two units make up a first-year sequence, co-ordinated from within the School of Philosophical, Historical and International Studies, but taught by lecturers from across the faculty.
ATS1041 World religions
This unit introduces students to the history, core teachings and central practices of many of the world’s religions: indigenous Australian traditions, Indian religions (Hinduism, Sikhism), Buddhism, Chinese and Japanese religions (Taoism, Confucianism, Shintoism), Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and new religious movements. It looks at religions as dynamic, ongoing forces that given meaning and direction to human lives, and that shape the collective experience of human beings in diverse socio-historical settings. The unit does not aim to make judgments about what is right and wrong, but rather sets out to aid the development of knowledge and understanding of the broad sweep of religious traditions.
ATS1040 Religions and the modern world
This unit is a general introduction to the study of religions, spirituality, and belief and non-belief, in the contemporary world. In particular, it introduces a range of theoretical and methodological approaches, and examines some of the pressing intellectual questions that are raised by (and for) religions, spirituality, belief and non-belief. Issues canvassed include: religion and colonisation; religion and environmental degradation; religion, gender and sexuality; religion and spirituality; religious responses to modernity; and religion, secularisation, and non-belief. The future of religions will also be discussed, in the light of the theories and methods introduced here.
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