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MEETING WORLD RELIGIONS FACE TO FACE theo 262 World Religions

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Title: MEETING WORLD RELIGIONS FACE TO FACE theo 262 World Religions


1
MEETING WORLD RELIGIONS FACE TO FACE theo 262
World Religions
  • TEACHING DEVELOPMENT GRANT - 2008

2
AIMS OF THE PROJECT
  • To promote effective learning by creating safe
    and respectful spaces in which students can
    encounter FACE TO FACE members of various world
    religions as real people.
  • To encourage students to engage with these people
    FACE TO FACE at the level of enquiry, and through
    this engagement become more aware of the five
    religious traditions - Aboriginal Spirituality,
    Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism and Islam .
  • To foster an openness and willingness to
    recognise and respect diversity of belief in the
    context of Australian pluralism and thus develop
    Social Literacies.

3
Four Initiatives-
  • The first involved engagement prior to, during
    and after the teaching of the unit between ACU
    staff and representatives from the various
    religious traditions. This collaborative
    planning, monitoring and evaluation of the
    project demanded a significant allocation of time
    beyond that normally given to preparing for,
    monitoring and evaluating a unit.

4
Second initiative
  • Brought in representatives of the five major
    religious traditions to engage students in the
    second week of the unit. They each spoke of their
    lived religious experience and explored how it
    influences their life as an Australian in 2008.
  • After each presenter had spoken for about ten
    minutes, the students were asked to remain quiet,
    reflect on what they had heard and then to write
    down some responses they had to the various
    presentations.
  • The students were then invited to ask questions
    or make observations after having reflectively
    considered what had been presented. The ensuing
    questions were intelligent and insightful.

5
Third initiative
  • Towards the end of the unit there was a
    structured forum bringing together the
    representatives of the religious traditions
    again, as well as some young people from those
    traditions with the ACU students in the unit.
  • In small groups of about 5 students they moved
    around the various traditions.

6
Fourth initiative
  • This final and ongoing initiative was a
    mentoring component, in which an older and a
    younger member of each tradition was available
    for consultation with students (both on-campus
    and via e-mail) two or three times during the
    semester. This process allowed engagement by the
    students with an elder and a traveller from
    each tradition in a constructive learning
    conversation.

7
evaluation
  • Students responses-
  • The evaluations made it clear that for many of
    the students this was the first time they had
    encountered and engaged face-to-face with a Hindu
    (or Muslim or ) and as a result they were hoping
    to develop a more positive approach when they
    confronted difference, or fear or mistrust of
    strangers.
  • One student commented
  • I found the engagement with representatives of
    the World Religions informative and eye-opening.
    They both clarified aspects of their faith and
    helped debunk any myths or misconceptions about
    their religion which had not been explained or
    are distorted in society.
  • Another wrote
  • The realization of religious diversity allowed
    me to understand in a better way the need for
    religious tolerance and how lucky we are in a
    country like Australia to have this opportunity
    to meet and exchange ideas.

8
Evaluation of the various Presenters
  • There was a high correlation between the
    responses given by the presenters and the
    students with an overall very favourable
    assessment of the unit.
  • The majority of the presenters rated the Meeting
    World Religions Face-to-Face initiative a maximum
    score of ten.
  • There was general agreement that the most
    valuable aspect of the initiative was in allowing
    dialogue between the various faith communities
    and the students,
  • The presenters found that the interaction with
    the students was invigorating and informed their
    own ideas, their teaching and their perceptions
    of how other groups understood them.
  • As with the students, most presenters felt that
    the major problem with the initiative was the
    limited time available.

9
Current Study of religions units
  • Study of Religions (coded THSR)
  • THSR100 Indigenous Spiritualities
  • THSR101 Introduction to Judaism and Islam
  • THSR200 Hinduism and Buddhism
  • THSR201 Ethics and Peace Studies in World
    Religions
  • THSR202 Religion in Australian Culture
  • THSR203 Interfaith Relations and Dialogue

10
Thank you
  • Anthony Steel- incredible organisational and
    facilitating skills.
  • Institute for Advancing Community Engagement
    (IACE) a joint venture.
  • Those who made this teaching and learning
    initiative possible with finance.
  • Thank you to the students who participated.
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