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Religion and Sexual Wellbeing: Pleasure, Piety, and Reproductive Rights

Explore how religion, culture, and politics intersect with women’s sexual wellbeing.

1,860 enrolled on this course

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  • Duration

    4 weeks
  • Weekly study

    3 hours
  • 100% online

    How it works
  • Digital upgrade


Examine the role of religion in sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR)

Reproductive rights are at the forefront of many of today’s most heated political and ideological battles. Understanding the relationship between religion, gender, and sexual wellbeing is crucial to understanding the world today.

On this course, you’ll reflect on sexuality as a private and public affair, exploring people’s lived experiences around sexuality, intimacy and pregnancy.

Examine the role of religion in sexual wellbeing

You’ll explore the difference between religion as a lived experience, and religion as prescribed by religious authorities in relation to sexual activity and health.

You’ll examine how sexuality can be the cause of ideological debate as much as a source of enrichment, and explore the dynamics of the current polarisation around reproductive rights in relation to local, national and global histories.

Explore sexual wellbeing alongside experts

Using real-world case studies from the Philippines, Zimbabwe, and the Netherlands you’ll reflect upon how people become sexually knowledgeable, and how we can combat gendered forms of violence.

You’ll come away able to investigate the consequences of cultural polarisation around reproductive rights, and to reflect on how to support people’s sexual wellbeing and health.

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Skip to 0 minutes and 11 seconds Religion, gender, sexuality, themes that are so often subject of public debates, of media storms, of strong opinions. In this course on religion and sexual wellbeing, we take you on a journey from exploring how these themes came to be politicised globally to how they interact in people’s lives. In the Philippines, you will get to know Bernadette and Vilma, their stories around sex, contraceptives, and pregnancy, and how religion featured in their choices or lack of them. You will analyse how religion and other cultural influences are part of people’s everyday life via the networks of relationships they are part of. After that, you will visit Zimbabwe, where you will hear the story of Grace and her husband.

Skip to 1 minute and 3 seconds They have different ideas and aspirations when it comes to how many children they want. You will explore challenges women face to make their own decisions in the context of violence between women and men. What is the role of religion in legitimising violence? And how do people draw on religion to transform inequality and violence? Finally, you will turn to the Netherlands. This country prides itself on its openness on matters of sex, often explicitly pointing at religion as a barrier. How do young people in the Netherlands communicate about sexuality? How do they learn? And what is the role of religion here? In this course, you learn how religious ideas and practises play a role in sexual wellbeing.

Skip to 1 minute and 52 seconds This course will help you move beyond the strong opinions that fuel controversy and take up a more informed stance on religion, gender, and sexuality. Are you ready to join us on this journey? Let’s go.

What topics will you cover?

  • Polarisation and the role of religion in reproductive politics at the global level.
  • Religion and sexuality as grand schemes and in everyday life.
  • Navigating sexual wellbeing and gendered forms of violence.
  • How do people become sexually knowledgeable?
  • Case studies from the Philippines, Zimbabwe, and the Netherlands.

When would you like to start?

Start straight away and join a global classroom of learners. If the course hasn’t started yet you’ll see the future date listed below.

  • Available now

Learning on this course

On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Explore the dynamics of current polarization in cases on sexual health and reproductive rights you observe in the media in relation to their local, national and global histories.
  • Investigate the differences and interactions between ‘grand schemes and everyday life’ concerning religion and sexuality.
  • Identify the context of religion and sexuality in specific cultural and gendered contexts.
  • Reflect on all the different contexts through which people become sexually knowledgeable.
  • Investigate the consequences of the polarizing dynamics between religious and secular actors concerning possibilities to improve sexual wellbeing.
  • Reflect on how to position yourself in a way that supports people’s sexual wellbeing and health.

Who is the course for?

This course is for anyone interested in the topics covered. More specifically, it could benefit faith-based and secular organisations that promote sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) across the globe.

Who will you learn with?

Associate Professor Sociology and Anthropology of Religion

I do research and lecture on religion & diversity, health & wellbeing, family relations, gender and sexuality in Western Europe and Sub Sahara Africa.

Rachel Spronk is Associate Professor, department of anthropology at the University of Amsterdam. She works at the intersection of three scholarly fields - anthropology, gender & sexuality studies.

Who developed the course?

University of Groningen

The University of Groningen is a research university with a global outlook, deeply rooted in Groningen, in the north of the Netherlands.

In collaboration with

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Endorsers and supporters

funded by

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What's included?

University of Groningen are offering everyone who joins this course a free digital upgrade, so that you can experience the full benefits of studying online for free. This means that you get:

  • Unlimited access to this course
  • Includes any articles, videos, peer reviews and quizzes
  • A PDF Certificate of Achievement to prove your success when you’re eligible
  • Learning on FutureLearn

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    Join a global classroom

    • Experience the power of social learning, and get inspired by an international network of learners
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    • As you work through the course, use notifications and the Progress page to guide your learning
    • Whenever you’re ready, mark each step as complete, you’re in control
    • Complete 90% of course steps and all of the assessments to earn your certificate

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