We live in a world that is paradoxically more interconnected and more polarized than it has perhaps ever been. At the very moment when our global moral challenges require us to collaborate across our differences we seem to be especially ill-prepared to do so. This is pretty unsettling and it means that leaders and change agents are faced with a pretty monumental task—getting folks to cooperate when they’d rather not. And when we add religion and ethics to the mix, things get even more complicated, which is why I’m so excited about teaching this course.
The premise of this course is that if we really want to understand religion and morality in a way that empowers us to become more effective progressive religious leaders, then we need to study religious ethics in an entirely different way. Whether or not one believes in a god or many gods or no god at all, it is important to come to terms with the idea that, whatever else it may be, religion is a human phenomenon. Further, insofar as we humans are creatures of nature, then religion is also a natural phenomenon. Understanding this is a critical step toward becoming a religious leader who can connect communities, span boundaries, and cross borders.
With all of this in mind, this course integrates exciting new work in the sciences and philosophy and offers students the opportunity to study religious ethics and moral development in a radically new way. Religious ethics is commonly taught through either a close historical analysis of a particular religious tradition or comparatively across several traditions. Incorporating but expanding these approaches, this course embeds the study of religious ethics in an evolutionary anthropological perspective. In addition, the course enriches socialization models of moral development by examining new insights emerging out of evolutionary psychology and the neurocognitive and neuroaffective sciences. As a result, our collaborative learning in this class will be as invigorating as the challenges of religious leadership in a complex world.
Learn more about the courses ML offers on our website.