LSTD 4700 – World Religions and Ecology (Fall 2016 – Session I)
Humans are the stewards of the earth, and ecology is something that daily affects us all. It regards not just a concern for the planet, but also how issues like social, economic and legislative justice and sustainability all exist together. Put simply, ecology concerns lifestyles and life choices, and the various ways the decisions we make each day have an impact on the world around us.
Students will have the chance to learn about these issues and explore their own views in World Religions and Ecology, a class offered Session I of the fall semester. Through the course readings and assignments, students become aware of the important connections between religion, politics, economics, social policies and the environment.
Early in the course, students choose an issue of pressing concern that pertains to environmental justice, and then, using collaborative online tools, present their findings to others. The instructor not only allows students to choose contemporary topics like sustainability, eco-justice and globalization—she encourages it!
“The students engage with real-world topics and relate those to our course readings,” said Nina Livesey, instructor for the course. “Since it has been religions that shape our worldviews, we touch on an exploration of the major world religions. However, students do not necessarily need to be religious to appreciate the course content. Indeed, our textbook author, Richard Foltz, uses the term ‘worldviews.’ Even the non-religious have a worldview, or a philosophy of life.”
“It is my hope that students come away from this course with greater eco-sensitivity than when they began it,” Nina said. “I want students to realize the interconnectivity of life and the ramifications of events and policies that occur in our daily lives. I hope too that students will gain a deep appreciation for the topic of eco-justice, one that has been growing for several decades and continues to expand.”
World Religions and Ecology is one of the courses chosen to pilot Canvas, the new learning management system in which all CLS courses will soon be offered. The course provides students the valuable opportunity to test out the new design before all of their courses are transferred into the system—with an interesting course topic, to boot!
“I am excited by the redesign of this course in Canvas, as I believe that Canvas will provide a more seamless workflow than D2L,” said Nina. “Canvas can integrate modules more easily than D2L, allowing for more variability of content delivery.”
Nina was also particularly excited about the use of Canvas’ discussion board, noting that the new discussion board seems friendlier than others CLS has used in the past.
“We can also employ a bulletin board for students to post links to articles of interest, keeping everyone up-to-date on issues related to ecology,” she said. “At the end of the course, the bulletin board can mark who we are as a class.“
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