Professional Development Courses & Workshops

Religious Studies Forums

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Religious Studies is an academic discipline devoted to the study of religion in general and to specific world religions in particular, investigating such dimensions of religion as scripture and myth, experience, belief, ritual, ethics, institutions, and material culture. It employs an interdisciplinary and comparative methodology that borrows from and has influenced a broad array of other fields. The academic study of religion recognizes the interconnectedness of religion with other dimensions of culture but acknowledges that religion is qualitatively different from other forms of human expression.

Religious Studies Forums

 “Earth First” or Anti-oppression? Ritual & Conflict Within Radical Environmentalism

Dr. Sarah Pike

Faculty, CSU, Chico Comparative Religion and Humanities Department

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During several years of conducting research about radical environmental groups such as “Earth First!”, Dr. Sarah Pike has been seeking the answers to two questions: (1) What is the relationship between ritual and social change – that is, are there cultural conditions underlying social change that include ritualizing? (2) What motivates young people to risk arrest, and sometimes their lives, in dangerous protests? She shares some of her observations of these groups, including a trend in radical environmentalism of linking the devastation of the natural world to other forms of abuse and oppression. Dr. Pike also talks about how the label “eco-terrorist” sparked her interest in this research.

Presentation Time:  43 minutes

Buddhism and Chocolate Cake: How to be Happy

The Venerable Robina Courtin

Buddhist Nun

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Transcript

The Venerable Robina Courtin, a Buddhist nun from Australia, has worked full-time since the late 1970s for Lama Thubten Yeshe and Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition. In this presentation, she discusses the nature of happiness and where it comes from. But first, she outlines concepts such as the nature of the Buddha and how the Buddhist sees the mind. Along the way she includes some humor and practical examples.

Presentation time: 1 hour, 44 minutes

Whither the Secular City

Dr. Louis Greenspan

Professor Emeritus, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

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Transcript

Dr. Greenspan, a scholar of Canadian intellectual history and modern, liberal Jewish thought, traces the changing roles of religion and secularism in the past 60 years - both in universities and in the world. He draws on his personal observation of university religious studies departments from the 1950s, an era in which those departments seemed like “museums of a dying world,” to the current era of dynamic international changes in which religion often plays a major role. Dr. Greenspan also discusses ideas from Charlies Taylor’s book, “A Secular Age,” and from Harvey Cox’s book, “The Secular City.”

Presentation time: 57 minutes

Please note: During the first seven minutes of this presentation the sound is somewhat weak. After that, the audio is clear and at normal volume.

Bertrand Russell Editorial Project

Dr. Louis Greenspan

Professor Emeritus, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

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Transcript

In this lecture, Dr. Greenspan, director of the Bertrand Russell Editorial Project at McMaster University from 1994 to 1997 and its managing editor from 1986 to 1994, discusses Russell’s writings on religion and chance. (“Chance” is the CSU, Chico Humanities Center theme for 2010-2011.) Russell’s papers are housed at McMaster. The lecture focuses on Russell’s “History of Philosophy.” Bertrand Russell was one of the greatest thinkers of the 20th Century. Among other things, Russell transformed logic and placed it at the center of philosophic inquiry. As a social critic, political thinker, and humanist, Russell addressed major issues such as nationalism and imperialism, modern industrialism, Soviet Communism, and the nuclear peril. For information about the Bertrand Russell Research Centre at McMaster University, go to the Centre’s website.

Presentation time: 1 hour, 8 minutes

Contested Knowledge: What Conspiracy Theories are Telling Us

Professor Rebecca Moore

Professor of Religious Studies, San Diego State University

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Professor Moore’s lecture focuses on the current interest, or revival, in various conspiracies, with a look at what they mean in terms of the democratic process. She is the author of “Understanding Jonestown and Peoples Temple” (Greenwood Press, 2009) and co-author (with Risa Levitt Kohn) of “A Portable God: The Origin of Judaism and Christianity” (Rowman & Littlefield, 2007).

Presentation time: 50 minutes