The Religious Freedom Center is currently developing partnerships with leading schools of journalism to provide undergraduate and graduate credit for the Center’s online and onsite courses. These courses which will expose emerging and established journalists to a wide range of contemporary religious topics that cut across a wide variety of religious traditions. Upon successful completion of three courses, students may receive a Certificate in Religion Newswriting from our partner schools.

A comprehensive curriculum for the certificate program is currently under development in collaboration with leading experts on religion and media. The initial courses will be organized around the following topics:

JOUR 100: Freedom of Religion, Speech, and the Press

Case study pedagogy will be used to drive the course, exposing emerging and established journalists to a variety of civic issues that have sprung from the intersection of religion and public life in the United States in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Examples of case studies include: religion and politics (media representation of presidents, governors, judges and legislators who use theological rationale to justify civil laws); the role of religion in public schools (media portrayal of issues of prayer, Bible readings and wearing of religious garb/insignias); the intersection of civil rights and religious rites (media representation of ritual circumcision, marriage and divorce); the role of women and religion (media reports on abortion, contraception, premarital sex and ordination); and other timely—and seemingly timeless—issues. The course will conclude with students presenting their capstone projects about the First Amendment’s guarantees to freedom of religion, speech and the press.

JOUR 200: Reporting on Religion

If journalists are to effectively write about religion and public life, they must be religiously literate. Reporters who do not have the necessary content knowledge about specific religious traditions may inadvertently misrepresent the public. The purpose of this class is to expose students and working journalists to a wide range of contemporary religious topics that include a diversity of religious traditions. The primary source material will derive from current newsfeeds about religion and politics, with an emphasis on scholarly publications from the fields of religious and cultural studies. Case study pedagogy will drive the course, exposing students to a variety of theological issues that spring from the intersection of religion and public life in the United States. The primary goal is to expose emerging and established journalists to a variety of issues related to religion and public life, equipping them to demonstrate journalistic competency and religious literacy.

JOUR 300: Religion and News Media in International Affairs

How does the media represent global issues related to freedom of expression, religious garb, places of worship and religious profiling, among others? Based on historical and contemporary examples, the international case studies presented in this class illustrate both the policy challenges to full respect for the right to freedom of religion or belief and the value of rule of law strategies to help meet those challenges. Students and working journalists will examine best practices for reporting on policies and laws that either align with or oppose international human rights standards. The course canvasses the intersection of religion and human rights in a non-exhaustive manner, highlighting problems and best practices for the media’s portrayal of religion and international affairs. This course is designed to promote cross-cultural and interfaith understanding, thus contributing to an ongoing dialogue both between and within nations about the importance of the rule of law for promoting and protecting the right to freedom of religion or belief.