Online course in Politics & the Modern World

Why Religion Matters: Religious Literacy, Culture and Diversity

Discover why religion is important for understanding and engaging with global challenges.

Why Religion Matters: Religious Literacy, Culture and Diversity

  • Duration 4 weeks
  • Weekly study 3 hours
  • Learn Free
  • Extra benefits From $59 Find out more

Consider the ways religion affects personal and political decision-making

Religion not only influences personal behaviours and ethics, but it’s also relevant to international conflicts and domestic policy decisions. On this course, you will gain a broader understanding of why religion matters in society and in different cultures.

You will understand the concepts of religious literacy and religious diversity, both within different societies and religious traditions themselves. You will also use case studies to explore Christianity, Islam, Buddhism and indigenous religious traditions in both historical and contemporary contexts.

What topics will you cover?

Week 1
Introduces the idea of why religion and religious literacy matters.

Week 2
Looks at how religion has changed and how it has been used to promote change.

Week 3
Explores the relationships and differences between religion and culture. Reviews how religion and violence have developed.

Week 4
Discusses (with examples) interactions with religious spheres outside your own.

When would you like to start?

Most FutureLearn courses run multiple times. Every run of a course has a set start date but you can join it and work through it after it starts. Find out more

  • Available now
    This course started 11 Nov 2019

What will you achieve?

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

  • Identify and describe the principles of 'religious literacy'.
  • Reflect on the boundaries between religion and culture.
  • Evaluate the extent to which religion inspires ways of life including ethics, social activism and extremism.
  • Apply the principles of 'religious literacy' to case studies.
  • Develop confidence in interacting with those who have different beliefs and practices.

Who is the course for?

This course is for anyone who may interact with a religiously diverse public in their personal or professional lives. This includes police, civil servants, teachers, journalists, council workers and parents.

Who will you learn with?

Suzanne Newcombe

Suzanne Newcombe

I'm a Lecturer in Religious Studies at the Open University. I've been researching the fascinating interplay between religion and wider society for over twenty years.

Graham Harvey

Graham Harvey

I'm Professor of Religious Studies at the Open University. I research among Indigenous people and Pagans - with particular interests in rituals, performance and climate disaster.

Hugh Beattie

Hugh Beattie

I am a Lecturer in Religious Studies at the Open University. I have a particular interest in Islam and the culture and history of the Muslim-majority world, especially Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

David Robertson

David Robertson

Hi, I'm David. I live near Edinburgh, and I work at the Open University where I teach and write and podcast about contemporary religion for a living. The rest of the time I'm in the garden.

Who developed the course?

The Open University (OU) is the largest academic institution in the UK and a world leader in flexible distance learning, with a mission to be open to people, places, methods and ideas.

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