World Religions & Sustainable Development – Early Semester


    “How do religious beliefs motivate believers to help fellow people, animals, and the planet? Why are various faith traditions important for sustainable development? Religions provide followers with a path for ultimate meaning, but they also provide motivation for improving their world. Through a secular, intercultural perspective, students will explore how religious beliefs from around the world are utilized to implement United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. By the end of the course, students will be able to better understand diverse groups of people and the way they better their world.”
    ~Prof. Avalon Jade Theisen


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    Symbols for World Religions & Sustainable Development course at Athena's Advanced Academy
    InstructorProf. Avalon Jade Theisen
    Content LevelsGrades 7-8 • Junior High
    Grades 9-10 • Lower High School
    Course Length8 Weeks
    Live Webinars Held OnMondays, 8:00 - 8:50 AM Pacific - 8/15/22 - 10/15/22

    World religions provide followers with a path for ultimate meaning, but they also provide motivation for improving their world. This course explores how varying religions help implement the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations.

    The SDGs provide a framework for examining inspired peacemaking, in which individuals use their religion as a reason to better the world. From religious nonprofits to daily practices to holy texts, this course examines how a variety of faith traditions uses their unique doctrines to aid sustainable development.

    This course is meant to inspire greater interfaith understanding and respect, especially in regard to SDG implementation. 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 will include Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism, Christianity, Inca, and Judaism, among others. Students will also have opportunities to find examples of other religions implementing the week’s assigned SDGs.

    Note to students: 

    Note to parents:

    • The structure of this course follows this plan: concept introduction, discussion of varying religions implementing SDGs, 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 religions (of your student’s choosing) implementing SDGs.

    Please note: Homework completion is expected. 

    • Students completing the work in the Required section only: Expect a half-hour of homework per week.
    • Students completing the work in the Required, Highly Suggested, & Optional sections: Expect 2 hours of homework per week.

    What to expect in the Required section in the classroom each week:

    • Reading and thinking assignments to lead to thoughtful introspection.
    • Thorough notetaking. Notebooks will be reviewed in the 4th and 8th weeks to ensure students are learning and paying attention.
    • 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 SDGs 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:

    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 is required.
    • Notebook in paper or electronic form. Notebooks will be reviewed each week to ensure students are learning and being challenged. If a student opts for a paper notebook, photos or scans of the notes will be suitable for review.