Philosophy of Knowledge
The two main threads that we will pick up throughout the semester are the issues of what grounds knowledge and objectivity. The first section of the course starts with some basic thoughts in epistemology, such as what makes knowledge and what justifies it. With the help of classical, modern and contemporary philosophers, students will be introduced to the problem of knowledge. Students will be asked to read portions of philosophers’ original works. This section covers foundationalist, anti-foundationalist, and especially constructivist theories of knowledge.
The second section looks variety of approaches to the study of religion. As an interdisciplinary field, study of religion requires openness to different disciplines, methodologies, and approaches. This section covers different disciplines/approaches, which include theology, philosophy, psychology and phenomenology. (Part of the consideration to take up those subjects is that there is already another course on social theories of religion.)
The last section is on a few special topics: religious authority, feminist study of religion, and the question of identity of students of religious studies.
Aims of the Seminar
This seminar will introduce how Holy Scriptures are perceived, believed, studied and lived by people of similar faith and others. Many theories on how to approach and understand the Holy Scriptures have been developed by scholars that create a specific field of study known as ‘uluum al-tafsiir among Muslim scholars, or hermeneutics in Christian world and other. The seminar offer several studies of important, influential scholars and their theories, as well as specific concepts produced within such scholarship.
Particular attention will be on assessments over issues as why and how particular method of interpretation has been used and applied. What sorts of theological, sociological or scientific reasons have been taken into account for choosing these methods, and how such selection leaves impacts to efforts of contextual scriptures reading study, especially in our Asian and Indonesian context.
Asia and Indonesia, with its multiracial and multicultural resources, are unique parts of the world and can offer many possibilities for adequate contextual hermeneutics in a multi-scriptural society (Samartha 1991: 58, 59). Taking Archie Lee opinion, for instance, he mentions Asian religious people, at least, live in two worlds: the world of their religion and its sacred text, and the world of Asian texts, cultures and religions. Both identities and both worlds should be upheld in a creative, dynamic, interrelated, interactive and integrated way, so that integrity is safeguarded” (2012: 34).
Related to the above issue, then several examples of how Asian hermeneuticians and theologians, as well as Muslim scholars in tafsiir have been using the method will be discussed along with critical remarks by placing them within the dialogue about the tension between openness to the other and commitment to one’s faith identity. This seminar will also present several possible explications of our hermeneutical position and assessment of the value and practice of this inter-religious reading within interreligious dialogue.
Aims of the Seminar
Research Design and Methods
The course is designed to train graduate students in the planning and conduct of research projects in the human sciences, and more especially in religious and cultural studies. The course will enable students to gain a deeper understanding of the nature of scholarly argument, and how to evidence truth claims, in the human sciences. The course will train students in research design, and in generating and developing research questions and problems amenable to investigation in graduate research projects. The course will help students to learn how to plan and write scholarly literature reviews, and how to identify, gather and interpret data in such a way as to generate new theoretical insights from the study of empirical and internet-originate data, and/or primary texts such as sacred scriptures or organisational reports. The course will develop an understanding of research methods particularly appropriate to the study of religion and culture, including discourse analysis and ethnography. Finally the course will enable students to prepare and write a research proposal.
Aims of the Seminar
By the end of the course:
Religion and International Affairs
Religion and International Affairs takes you on a journey to discover how religion is played out in the global arena, both as a manifestation of religious teachings and doctrines as well as norms and discourses. It thus examines global norms, discourses, institutions and international relations through the religious lens. The graduate course will therefore not only study how religion has forged international cooperation and peace efforts around the world, but also how it could breed distrust, and lead to conflicts and wars.
The course will also involve discussing the complex and complicated ways in which religion and faith communities are engaged by states to achieve their foreign policy and public diplomacy objectives. Using relevant theories, concepts and paradigms, students are expected to discuss and debate in class how issues such as democracy, religious freedom, human rights and dignity have become standard norms in international relations.
This graduate course will involve intensive interaction and intellectual stimulation between and among the facilitators and students.
Aims of the Seminar
At the end of the graduate course, students are expected to be able to respond intelligently and critically to the following set of questions: How does religion play out in international affairs and the global scene? What norms, discourses and institutions have come out of religion or religious teachings/doctrines? What relevant theories, concepts and paradigms are useful in analyzing the role of religion in international affairs? How are religion and faith communities used and deployed in foreign policy and public diplomacy?