The courses below have been selected because they provide a good impression of the leading courses across the university that are integrating the study of religion, science, and culture. They are not affiliated with our program. Harvard Extension School currently offers a number of similar courses.
“A Science of the Environment”
Sanford Kwinter http://isites.harvard.edu/icb/icb.do?keyword=k95813
The science of ecology purports to study life as the sum of interactions between organisms and their natural environment. The term `natural? has in recent decades undergone significant revision, in both biological and philosophical circles, increasingly to include a great many aspects of human cultural process and history. This course will be an approach toward the ideal of a `total ecology?, at once an incorporation of `deep ecology?, behavioral ecology and evolutionary theory as a discipline intended to transform and cultivate an entirely new way of understanding the human physical and cultural relationship to the natural world (Harvard Graduate School of Design, DES 0343100).
“Exploring Race and Community in the Digital World”
Carla Denny Martin http://isites.harvard.edu/icb/icb.do?keyword=k96278
This class will consider the study of race, ethnicity, and diaspora in relation to the digital world. Complex societal issues of power, domination, and bias follow us into digital spaces. Simultaneously, the much discussed digital divide has shifted from differential access to inequity in ownership, control, and content. The imagined democratizing promise of the digital exists in stark contrast to "the other". Individuals and collectives use digital technologies to reproduce and address notions of social difference (African and African American Studies 108x).
“Animated Spirituality: Japanese Religion in Anime, Manga, and Film”
This course addresses the representation of religion in Japanese popular culture, with emphasis on anime, manga, and film. The course examines depictions of religious figures, themes, and human dilemmas in contemporary popular culture as a gateway to understanding the significance of religion in Japanese society and history (Culture and Belief 57).
“Reasoning About God: Exploring Religious Belief in Light of Philosophy and Cognitive Science”
Guven Guzeldere http://isites.harvard.edu/icb/icb.do?keyword=k95758
This seminar explores the nature of religious belief and various ways of reasoning about God, in light of philosophical arguments and recent research in the cognitive sciences. Questions that will be subjected to a systematic analytical examination include the rational and psychological bases for belief in God, the metaphysical possibility of an afterlife, and the relation between faith and reason (including the relation between religious belief and scientific knowledge). We will also discuss various philosophical arguments for the existence of God, different conceptions of the soul, the problem of evil, and the relation of religion to morality (Freshman Seminar 33k).
“Fear and Wonder: Natural and Unnatural Experience of the Sublime”
Christina Lynne Svendsen http://isites.harvard.edu/icb/icb.do?keyword=k96952
This seminar explores extreme states of mind: the feeling of fear and wonder that philosophers call the sublime. Sublime experiences are so intense that they overwhelm our senses and our ability to express ourselves, jamming the system. The rediscovery of the sublime in the late eighteenth century coincided with a cultural shift from viewing the Alps as a site of fear to a place of awe and beauty, a shift reflected in Romantic art and literature. It reappears in modernism, in forms that range from Gothic fiction to the technological sublime of skyscrapers, the Wild West, and novels on the "posthuman" sublime of life after ecological catastrophe (Freshman Seminar 39v).
“Introduction to Religion and Globalization”
The religious dimensions of globalization are often misrepresented as narrowly confined to explicitly identifiable religious movements as opposed to the more accurate depiction of the multiple roles that religions play in the economic, political, cultural, and environmental facets of globalization in both historic and contemporary contexts. This misrepresentation reinforces simplistic views of religion that can fuel conflict and diminish opportunities for the promotion of peaceful coexistence and human flourishing. In this course we will employ a critical theory lens to explore how religions function in all arenas of globalization through a series of case studies. Topics may include Religion and Conflict/Peace; Religion and Immigration/Migration; Religion and Public Health; Religion and Ecology. For final projects, students will construct their own case studies focusing on either a theme or a country/geographic region (Harvard Divinity School 2849)
“Ethics, Biotechnology, and the Future of Human Nature”
Douglas A. Melton and Michael J. Sandel http://isites.harvard.edu/course/colgsas-2164
Explores the moral, political, and scientific implications of new developments in biotechnology. Does science give us the power to alter human nature? If so, how should we exercise this power? The course examines the science and ethics of stem cell research, human cloning, sex selection, genetic engineering, eugenics, genetic discrimination, and human-animal hybrids. Readings will be drawn from literature in the areas of biology, philosophy, and public policy (Life Sciences 60).
“Topics in the Mind/Brain Sciences: How the Mind/Brain Represents the World”
Richard T. Born (Medical School), Alfonso Caramazza, and Guven Guzeldere http://isites.harvard.edu/course/colgsas-21066
Many questions in the contemporary cognitive sciences seem to benefit from a multi-disciplinary approach, and require a converging multi-layered explanation. MBB faculty in neurobiology, psychology, and philosophy explore topics that can be examined by research methods of the respective fields of study, presenting and discussing common questions from multiple perspectives. Ultimate goals are to (1) give a genuine sense of the difficult but rewarding nature of interdisciplinary work and (2) make progress on difficult questions in the mind-brain sciences through such collaboration. This year, seminar attempts to understand how the mind and brain represent the world (Mind, Brain, and Behavior 980ir).
“Beyond Peasants and Proletarians: Black Religions and the Social Sciences in the 20th Century”
Jonathan Lee Walton http://isites.harvard.edu/icb/icb.do?keyword=k96378
This course will introduce students to the leading "schools" of social scientific thought throughout the first half of the twentieth century in regards to religion, race and ethnicity. Major topics to be addressed include anthropological and sociological approaches that led to Africanisms, cultural relativism and particularism on the one hand, versus universalism, acculturation, and assimilation on the other. Beyond evaluating the works of leading proponents of aforementioned approaches, students will also engage social context, political motivations, and economic influences that animated the early growth of the social sciences in general, and work on religion and race more specifically (Religion 1910).
“Sacred Music in History and Current Practice”
This course will focus on sacred music, from early chant through modern jazz, as well as on hymnody and other practical matters. Although primarily dealing with the Christian church and western culture, the influence of other world faiths and cultures will be integrated into the study. Through listening, discussion and writing, students will relate the material to their professional development and learn to apply historical considerations to current practice. We will attempt to answer the question: How can our rich sacred music traditions address the needs of spirituality today? (Harvard Divinity School 2901)
“Science, Power, and Politics”
This seminar introduces students to the major contributions of the field of science and technology studies (STS) to the analysis of politics and policymaking in democratic societies. The objective is to expand students' understanding of the ways in which science and technology participate in the creation of social and political order. The seminar is devoted to reading and analyzing works by scholars in STS and related fields who have addressed such topics as the relationship between scientific and political authority, science's relations with the state, science and democracy, scientific and technical controversies, and citizenship in technological societies (History of Science 285).
“Witchcraft in Early Christianity”
Giovanni Battista Bazzana http://www.hds.harvard.edu/academics/courses/course-detail.cfm?CrsNumber=1555§ion=01&term=FALL&year=2013
The course will examine the phenomenon of witchcraft in selected early Christian texts to explore its socio-cultural and rhetorical implications by positing them within the broader context of Greco-Roman culture and society. Two semesters of Greek are required (Religion 2422).
“Women, Religion and Political Activism in the Contemporary Middle East”
How does the ascendance of religious movements and parties in the Middle East influence women's political activism and participation? This course examines the significant involvement of women in religious-political movements in the Middle East and studies the implications of contemporary religious politics for women's rights, equality, and representation in the region. We will critically examine why women support such movements; the forms of women's activism; the professed doctrines of religious political movements towards women's rights and equality; and the role of the state and incumbent regimes in the shaping the dynamics of religious politics and women's political participation (Harvard Divinity School 3022).