This course is an introduction to the world’s major religions, particularly the dominant religious traditions in the countries we will visit in Asia and Africa. To live and work in a global village where we interact with people and communities from different religious traditions we need to understand and appreciate these neighbors’ religious worldview. In this course we will examine and compare the beliefs, texts, figures, rituals, and shrines of the world’s major religions and explore how these traditions answer life’s “big questions” (why we exist, what happens after death, and how we should live our lives, etc.) and how they help their members to negotiate life’s crises and passages and to get along with fellow believers and religious strangers.
Field WorkCountry: Myanmar (Burma)
Day: 2 - Friday, 19 February
We will be visiting the major pagodas and shrines in Rangoon, Myanmar, where students will observe Buddhist tourists and pilgrims at the Shwedagon (the holiest pagoda in Burma), the Chaukhtatgyi Paya, and the Ngahtatgyi Paya. Several of these pagodas house important relics and massive sculptures of the Buddha.
1. Visit a number of pagodas in a country where Buddhism is the official religion.
2. Recognize distinctive characteristics of Theravada Buddhism.
3. Observe Buddhist worship practices.