Building Interreligious Relations 1


Course Objective

The student:
- has developed knowledge, understanding and competences in the field
interreligious dialogue (incl. anthropological, philosophical,
hermeneutical, political and ethical questions);
- can recognize, summarize and explain the dominant positions in the
ongoing discussion about the (im-)possibility of interreligious
- can integrate the insights from the course and use them to analyze and
discuss articles written by authoritative thinkers;
- learns to make nuanced judgments about the complex matter of
interreligious encounters;
- can integrate insights from this course and apply them to a case
- is aware of his/her own identity, fears, biases, and theological,
philosophical, ethical and hermeneutical prejudices as s/he teaches
about diversity issues. S/he has developed a capacity for metareflection
on these issues and can reflect on all these elements as a proof of
metareflection in the final paper.

Course Content

Various processes of globalization have produced new patterns of
religiosity that are far more complex and diversified than in the past.
Migration streams, increased mobility, and changing means of
communication have made the world smaller, as it were. Globalization has
brought about a pluralization of the religious sphere, bringing other
‘world’ religions, such as Islam and different Asian traditions, to the
West. At the beginning of the previous century, coming into contact with
strange cultures, peoples, and religions remained a remote possibility
for most people. Today we are confronted with otherness, whether we want
it or not. Cultural and religious diversity are an integral part of
life. The religious other is no longer an abstract figure but is seen in
all her concreteness as neighbor, colleague, friend, spouse, etc. We
mingle at school; work together as colleagues; we intermarry and raise
our children in mixed families. This is not only true of the United
States but, pari passu, is increasingly true for Europe (where Islam is
the second largest religion, outpacing Judaism and Protestantism in
Belgium and France) and even for Australia.
This novel context raises numerous fundamental questions about how
people belonging to these different traditions relate to one another;
how do they meet? Can they understand one another? What to do with
possible conflicts? How can we understand the meaning of religious
commitments? How does a context of pluralization affect the construction
of religious identities?
It is clear that religious diversity is a fact. It is also a fact that
religious diversity presents a challenge for society at large as well as
for different working places (schools, hospitals, companies). In this
course, we will delve deeply into the complexities related to the
meeting between religions, so that students learn to get a better grasp
of the deeper lying mechanisms that affect this meeting (for better or
for worse). We will conclude this course with the examination of case
studies, to which the insights of this course may be applied.
We will address fundamental questions touching upon:
1. How do we define religion; and how does the way we define religion
affect the way we understand the meeting between religions?
2. How do we make sense of religious diversity. Why are there so many
religions? How do they relate to one another?
3. What does it mean to be religiously committed in a time of
detraditionalization, individualization and pluralization? How
do identity and alterity relate to one another?
4. What is the relation between religion and conflict within the broader
society? How can one deal with conflicting religious attachments?

Teaching Methods

Interactive teaching environment with a variety of strategies: reading
assignments, buzzing groups, posting questions and positions on
Blackboard, student presentations.
Alternating the focus is on theory or empirical studies/practice. Prior
to some lectures students need to prepare a short assignment (see study
agenda and announcements via Blackboard). Next to the short assignments,
which stimulate a more active approach of the literature, there are also
a bigger assignment which is part of the formal examination of the
subject: Writing a position paper.

Method of Assessment

35% student presentation
15% participation in class (preparation, discussion.)
50% paper

Student Responsibilities:
• Students come to class prepared to participate in the discussion;
• Students analyse and study the obligatory literature through specific
study questions and assignments;
• Students are read to answers questions regarding the literature at any
• Students contribute to the discussion.


Articles posted on Canvas.

Target Audience

For students who want to come to a better understanding of
(philosophical, theological, hermeneutical and pedagogical) issues of
religious diversity and interreligious dialogue.
This course is obligatory for the track Building Interreligious
Relations and can be used as elective for all other Master's students.

Additional Information

Courses Building Interreligious Relations 1 and Building Interreligious
Relations 2 alternate on a yearly basis with the other courses Building
Interreligious Relations 3 and Building Interreligious Relations 4.
The courses Building Interreligious Relations 1 and Building
Interreligious Relations 2 will be taught in 2018-19.

General Information

Course Code G_BIR1
Credits 6 EC
Period P1
Course Level 400
Language of Tuition English
Faculty Faculty of Religion and Theology
Course Coordinator prof. dr. M. Moyaert
Examiner prof. dr. M. Moyaert
Teaching Staff

Practical Information

You need to register for this course yourself

Last-minute registration is available for this course.

Teaching Methods Lecture
Target audiences

This course is also available as: