University Curriculum and Religions: Museum, Mausoleum, or Mansion?

By William Acres.

Published by The Learner Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

This paper takes as its starting point an “exemplar” of Religious Studies education in the Ontario Secondary School System where students curated a museum exhibition of a religion. Taking the inherent implications of “museum” culture using Benedict Andersons’ Imagined Communities, this investigation imagines the death and rebirth of Religion in University education in a global world. The argument dissects the divisions and obvious exclusion of living religions from the more secular public space of learning and integration, and challenges the nature of this curriculum by proposing a grounded and centered application of religious knowledge at the post-secondary level as a natural concomitant to understanding the profoundly religious construction of the secular “mansion”, and its applicability in a world where boundaries have been eradicated by the Internet and other forms of telecommunications. While a curriculum and research fully integrates religious content, especially in the Social Sciences and literature, there remains a sense of remoteness. Finally, the paper concludes that the mansion model differs substantially from the “museum” of labels, glass cases, and disembodied scholarship into religions.

Keywords: Religious Studies, Global Communities, Models of Education and Learning

The International Journal of Learning, Volume 15, Issue 5, pp.291-298. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 550.855KB).

Dr. William Acres

Centre for Global Studies, Theology, History, Huron University College/The University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada

Dr. William Acres is organizing chair of “Sacred and Secular in a Global Canada: Past, Present and Future”, May 9-12, 2008 at Huron University College, where he teaches the single course in a large medical-doctoral university on the major religions of the world. The paper submitted is partly a reflection of his experience in teaching this course, and partly a consideration of existing High School and University curricula in a global world where the transcendence of boundaries is a crucial signififier of understanding and awareness. The creation of a global “public space” is an aspect of this material addressed in this paper. Acres got his PhD at Cambridge University, as a Commonwealth Scholar, and among other work, is part of an advisory group to the Government of Ontario in Social Sciences and Humanities curriculum development.

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