Harvard offers free online course to teach the world about religion
Students with their faces smeared in coloured powder dance as they celebrate Holi at a university campus in Chandigarh, India March 1, 2018. Source: Reuters/Ajay Verma

A free, online course offered by Harvard University kicked off this week, aiming to teach the international community more about each other’s religions in order to promote better interfaith understanding and tolerance.

Entitled Religious Literacy: Traditions and Scriptures, the course seeks to help students “better understand the rich and complex ways that religions function in historic and contemporary contexts” by exploring the faith systems of Christianity, Buddhism, Islam, Hinduism and Judaism.

It is available via the edX platform and is being taught by Diane L Moore, a Senior Lecturer and Director of the Religious Literacy Project at the Harvard Divinity School.

A major goal of the course is to break down misconceptions and simplistic understandings of various faiths.

“It is always problematic to make claims that begin with ‘Jews believe’ or ‘Hindus believe’ because of the vast diversity of beliefs within all religious traditions,” says one video that is part of the course’s syllabus.

One participant called it “an extraordinary journey of discovery, reflection and community”, while another said it gave them “hope that we’re all moving towards a world with more compassion, peace, and understanding.”

The course has even received the endorsement of Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling.

Sign up for Religious Literacy: Traditions and Scriptures here.

Liked this? Then you’ll love…

South African court bars schools from promoting any one religion

Meet the teenage brothers who made it into Stanford, Harvard