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Spring Semester information

Rachel Goldberg

290A: Tps:God at War and Peace

Religion can be used for a call to war and violence and as an inspiration for of most of the world's moral norms about peace and forgiveness. It has been an important root for positive social change and nonviolence, through, for instance, the deeply faith-based work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Mohandas K. Gandhi. The class will explore the underlying questions shaping these different understandings of the impact of faith on conflict, including how religious identity, theology, psychology, and religious moral norms are influencing current conflicts, both as a source of inner guidance, and as ideological tools for hegemonic dominance. The risk or danger is that with increasing success, selective religious interpretations are being used to escalate conflict with a goal of creating new, theocratic regimes and movements. The positive potential, however, can be seen in social change movements like Engaged Buddhism, which motivated Thich Nhat Hanh's Buddhist Struggle Movement in Vietnam. We will also investigate how faith is used to support conflict transformation, through preventive diplomacy, education and training, or through withdrawing or providing legitimacy for a government or other legal structures. We will cover topics like: prophecy and politics, religious roots of war, religious roots of peace, social movements and faith, the complexity of faith, and faith in what? You will also work in teams studying one topic of your won choosing in depth.

Rachel Goldberg

290B: Tps:Intercultural Conflict

Difference does not, in and of itself, cause conflict. However, differences between 'the way we do things here' from one family, group, or nation, (or person), to another can make understanding and communication harder, which makes productive conflict engagement very challenging. This is often compounded by historical structural and cultural violence between groups of around oppression and privilege which can have a profound impact on both understanding and resolution of conflict. The class will focus on the development of awareness of difference -- students' awareness of their own worldview and social location and developing an ability to 'see' the 'unseen' aspects of conflict relationships. Students will also learn about the well-researched and known differences between major cultural orientations across the world. The class will give students an opportunity to learn and experience techniques and processes to reveal and productively engage differences, and use them in discussions and interactive exercises. We will ground all of this in a unit on power and privilege and a major case study on the Israel-Palestine conflict.