The Religious Freedom Center has collaborated with leading schools of education to offer blended learning courses on religion and education. The Center has also worked with educational associations to offer staff development and continuing education opportunities to teachers and administrators. Graduate students may be eligible to earn academic credits from one of our partner schools. Continuing education credits may also be awarded by one of our partner professional associations.

A comprehensive curriculum for the certificate program will be developed in collaboration with faculty from schools of education and other leading experts in the field of religion and education. The initial five courses will be organized around the following topics.

EDU 100: First amendment approaches to religion & public schools

Offered Fall/Spring/Summer

This blended learning course equips educators and administrators to apply First Amendment principles as interpreted by the courts to the real-life challenges that teachers and administrators face each day in religiously diverse classrooms in public schools. This course blends online coursework with a 3-day conference, in Washington, DC. This course—which is based on the landmark publication, Finding Common Ground: A First Amendment Guide to Religion and Public Schools—is designed to equip educators, administrators, and policymakers with the background and tools that they need to teach and model the rights and responsibilities that flow from the First Amendment, so that public schools can promote religious liberty and religious literacy as two fundamental competencies for citizenship. This course is built on decades of consensus documents that were endorsed by leading education and civil liberty organizations, demonstrating that it is possible to find common ground on divisive issues by working within the civic framework provided by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

EDU 200-A: histories of religious liberty in America

Offered Fall/Spring/Summer (Online only)

This online-only course examines the major religious organizations, ideas, movements, and personalities as they express themselves in particular religious settings as well as the manner in which they have influenced other aspects of American culture. This course traces the development of religious liberty in the United States from the colonial era to present day by examining the changing religious demographics that impacted development. Students will analyze and interpret the significant developments in the history of American religious liberty and thought with attention to the social and cultural contexts in which various controversies in which religious liberty arose. Students will analyze historical periods for the development of religious identities and diversity that flourishes within the First Amendment framework.

EDU 300: teaching about religion in Public Schools

Offered Fall/Spring/Summer

After decades of silence about religion, state social studies standards now include considerable mention of religion, and most history textbooks now integrate some study of religion into discussions of U.S. and world history. Despite this agreement, much of the public school curriculum continues to largely ignore religion, and many teachers, including in the social studies, remain fearful of tackling the study of religions. In addressing this problem, and in honoring the U.S. Supreme Court’s affirmation that teaching about religion from an academic perspective is necessary for a “complete education,” this course is designed to prepare public school educators to take religion seriously across the curriculum. In this course, educators will examine the theories, methodologies, and issues involved in the academic study, research, and teaching of religion. They will study the legal/political consensus reached by educational, civil liberties, and religious organizations that agree that public schools can, and should, promote the academic study of religions across the curriculum. This course blends online coursework with a 3-day conference in Washington, DC.

RLIT 100: Religions of the world

Offered Fall/Spring/Summer (Online only)

In this online-only course, undergraduate and graduate students will survey the religions of the world, including religions originating in the Near East, India, China, Japan, Africa, and Native America. Special attention will be given to Hindu, Buddhist, Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Sikh, Yoruba, Native American, and Humanist traditions. The purpose of this course is to introduce students to a critical, scholarly understanding of religion as a worldwide human phenomenon. Students will analyze and evaluate influential definitions of religion; describe and analyze examples of how religions are internally diverse at both macro levels (sects and divisions within traditions) and micro levels (differences within specific religious communities); describe and analyze examples of how religions evolve and change over time in response to differing social, historical, and political contexts; describe and analyze examples of how religions are embedded in all aspects of culture and cannot only be isolated to the “private” sphere; and understand how each religion has interacted with other religions, and that they have affected and been affected by developments in the modern and contemporary world.