Religion in the Public Sphere

Course Description: 

Elective course

Over the past three decades, religion has made an impressive return to the public sphere, playing a prominent role in local, national, and international politics around the globe. Despite the decline of traditional forms of organized religiosity observed in many places, religious organizations continue to shape public values and debates to an extent that would have been difficult to imagine fifty years ago. Around the world, policy makers are increasingly confronted with the activities and demands of religious groups. These new challenges require a new knowledge about the organizational form, conduct, and the convictions of religious actors, their attitudes toward public authorities and their political conduct. This course will discuss the significance of these developments and provide basic knowledge about relevant religious groups. Class discussions will be organized around five major themes: 1) Religion and Government, 2) Human Rights & Civil Society, 3) Religion and Economy, 4) Religion and Violence, 5) Religion and Education.

Learning Outcomes: 

The students will learn about the varieties of ways in which religious groups enter the public arena and force policy makers to react. They will gain in-depth knowledge about the history, organization, and beliefs of major actors and become familiar with their claims and activities. In this context, students will practice analyzing the contents, claims, validity, and limits of case studies.

Assessment: 

The final grade is composed of:

  • A final paper of 2500 words. The paper should refer to at least one of the cases studies discussed in class and apply the newly acquired knowledge. It may have the form of a policy paper, an imaginary parliamentary speech, or a research paper. (50 %)                                            
  • Class presentations: (40 %)
  • Attendance and participation in class discussions: (10 %)