World Religions & Avatar – Middle Semester
NEW Course! “Do you like sci fi, different cultures, or sustainability? If any of these things intrigue you, join us as we explore the movie Avatar! We will examine inspirations for the film, religious and environmental beliefs of the characters, parallels with real religions, indigenous activism, and more! Come learn about Avatar, Nav’i religion, and Pandoran ecosystems from a cultural perspective, as you grow as a global citizen!”
~Prof. Avalon Jade Theisen
|Instructor||Prof. Avalon Jade Theisen|
|Content Levels||Grades 7-8 • Junior High|
Grades 9-10 • Lower High School
|Course Length||8 Weeks|
|Live Webinars Held On||Mondays, 8:00 - 8:50 AM Pacific - Middle Semester - 10/17/22 - 12/17/22|
Do you like sci-fi and aliens? Do you enjoy learning about other cultures? Ever wondered how conservation might look like on a different planet or moon? Join us as we explore James Cameron’s 2009 film Avatar and the 2022 sequel!
We will examine the worldviews and responses to nature of the characters in the film, including the Nav’i. We will also look at inspirations for the film and how many aspects parallel real religions, indigenous cultures, and environmental activism. Come learn about religions, ecology, and popular culture from a secular, cultural, interfaith perspective, as you grow as a global citizen and problem solver!
Warning: This class includes spoilers for Avatar.
What to expect in the Required section in the classroom each week:
- Homework completion is expected. Expect 2 hours of homework (per week) that includes reading, watching, researching, and writing.
- Reading and thinking assignments to lead to thoughtful introspection.
- Thorough notetaking. Notebooks will be reviewed each week to ensure students are learning and paying attention.
- Answer weekly questions that require research.
- Respond with positive, respectful, and encouraging comments on their classmates’ posts in the classroom forums.
What to expect in the Highly Suggested & Optional sections in the classroom each week:
- Curated supplementary resources, including short videos, will be provided to aid deeper understanding and excite students.
What to expect during the weekly webinar:
- Weekly webinars are 50 minutes long. Webinars are recorded and are available for students with schedule conflicts. Although recorded sessions will be available, students should be able to attend most of the webinars.
- The previous week’s work is reviewed.
- The current week’s case studies are analyzed.
- Short quizzes are provided to measure comprehension.
- Active Participation (via the microphone and chat) in online class discussions.
What to Expect During the Semester:
- Week 1: Inspiration for Avatar
- Week 2: Nav’i Beliefs
- Week 3: Nav’i Sacred Places
- Week 4: Parallels with Real Religions
- Week 5: Parallels with Real Religions Continued
- Week 6: Indigenous Environmental Activism
- Week 7: Responses to Avatar and Avatar 2
- Week 8: The Future of Pandora and Avatar 2
Before taking this course, students should be able to:
- Read non-fiction at a solid 7th-grade level or above.
- Read complex information
- Research and discuss issues clearly and with respect to others’ opinions.
- Possess the skills needed to speak about different religions in a respectful manner.
- Write 100+ words independently.
Students should be willing to:
- Although no particular religion is advocated, varying religions will still be a focus for discussions. Students must be willing to explore diverse perspectives, including those with which they may not agree.
- Actively participate (via the microphone and chat) in the class discussion.
- Encourage class discussion by adding their questions/ideas in the chat window during the webinar.
- Respond with positive and encouraging comments on their classmates’ projects.
Required books & materials:
- Avatar and Nature Spirituality by Dr. Bron Taylor
- Notebook in paper or electronic form. Notebooks will be reviewed each week to ensure students are learning and being challenged.