World Religions & Food – Early Semester
“I really liked learning more about different religions’ food ethics. It was also helpful that the reasoning behind such choices was included. . . All activities were equally interesting, but my favorite one was week two where we studied the motivations of religious food ethics.”
Religious food ethics incorporate the food-related beliefs and practices of varying faiths. In this course, both agricultural and dietary habits of a diverse set of faith traditions will be studied. We will define religion and look at varying examples of it. Some belief systems have names for their food habits, such as kashrut or ital, while others do not.
Some traditions focus on what believers should do whereas others focus on what believers should not do. Students will develop an appreciation for the diversity of religious food ethics and be able to better understand the actual and perceived impacts of various food systems.
This course is meant to inspire greater interfaith understanding and respect, especially in regard to the variety of religious diets. Accordingly, the instructor has made sure a diverse range of belief systems is present, so as to reduce bias and increase holistic learning.
Some of the global and indigenous religions studied here include Sikhism, Christianity, Rastafarianism, Judaism, Hinduism, Oneida, and Islam, among others. Students will also have weekly opportunities to find examples of other religions and their food habits.
Note to students:
Note to parents:
- The structure of this course follows this plan: concept introduction, discussion of varying religious food practices, and research.
- If you have questions about whether this course is right for your child, please contact the instructor, Avalon Jade Theisen.
- Homework completion is expected. Expect 2 hours of homework per week, including notetaking and researching religious food practices of your student’s choosing.
A note from the instructor:
“Do you love our planet? Do you enjoy learning about other cultures? Ever wondered how different beliefs translate to environmental action? Join us as we explore 8 different religions and their relationships with nature! Each week, we will focus on a different faith (Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Shinto, Daoism, Sikhism, Judaism) as we explore their nature-related beliefs and practices. Some of what we will look at will include specific environmentalist believers, conservation organizations, and ecological excerpts from sacred texts. Come learn how religion motivates environmentalism from a secular, cultural, interfaith perspective, as you grow as a global citizen and problem solver!”
~Prof. Avalon Jade Theisen
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, researching, and writing.
- Reading and thinking assignments to lead to thoughtful introspection.
- Thorough notetaking. Notebooks will be reviewed each week.
- Answer weekly questions that require research.
- Respond with positive 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 documentaries and 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: 3 trends of religious food habits.
- Week 2: 2 main motivations.
- Week 3: Which foods are grown.
- Week 4: How food is grown.
- Week 5: How food is harvested.
- Week 6: How food is prepared.
- Week 7: Which foods are eaten.
- Week 8: How foods are eaten.
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) 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:
- No textbook required.
- Notebook in paper or electronic form. There will be notebook reviews during the 4th and 8th week to ensure students have been doing homework assignments, paying attention in webinars, and are generally learning from the class. If a student opts for a paper notebook, photos or scans of the notes will be suitable for review.