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Title:Examining the theories and pedagogies of the academic study of religion in public schools
Author(s):Shrader, Sara
Director of Research:Layton, Richard A.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Layton, Richard A.
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Feinberg, Walter; McKim, Robert; Ebel, Jonathan H.
Department / Program:Educ Policy, Orgzn & Leadrshp
Discipline:Educational Policy Studies
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Abstract:This dissertation examines the following question: “Is the academic study of religion a desirable educational endeavor for public school students?” In examining this question I conclude that students should study religion as part of a robust education that seeks to not only inform students about religious traditions, but also to engage them in alternative viewpoints that take seriously the issue of religious diversity. My argument is not a legal one (i.e., the government should require or not require schools to teach about religion), but instead an educational one. I argue that the study of religion is desirable insofar as it contributes to civic education—not through providing a single metaphysical and moral basis for citizenship, but through informing students about religious diversity and giving them the skills needed to engage in thoughtful discussion of identity, culture, ethics, and globalization. This argument is developed through an examination of three current models for including the academic study of religion in public schools (the liberal, multicultural, and literacy models), which are analyzed separately in chapters two, three, and four. The models differ in important respects, including: the underlying conception of religion informing these models; the content to be included in the curriculum; the pedagogical objectives sought; and the anticipated work of the teacher and students for achieving these objectives. The goal of this study is to put these models in dialogue with one another in order to illuminate the problems and possibilities for including the academic study of religion in public schools. Chapter five concludes by illustrating how a world religions course can be incorporated into a public high school classroom, thus providing a way for students to learn about religious diversity as a means to strengthen their civic identities in a global world.
Issue Date:2013-08-22
Rights Information:Copyright 2013 Sara Shrader
Date Available in IDEALS:2013-08-22
Date Deposited:2013-08

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