Overview --> Description
CATALOGUE: "A close examination of selected primary sources dealing with the sacred dimensions of food and farming, both in the modern period and in several pre-modern Western and Asian cultures. Special attention paid to modern efforts at preserving and advancing sustainable, small-scale farming, and to ideas that promote and reinforce sustainable food practices.”(GE Area: C1) NOTE: the optional, additional unit of credit by for work with a local organization involved in farming and/or local food distribution is NOT BEING OFFERED THIS SEMESTER.
THIS SECTION will consider historical sources documenting the practices and ideas of Hindu, Chinese, Jewish & Christian traditions; student reports of food-related religious rituals performed in a broader range of local communities; and the writings of John Burroughs, Scott Nearing, Michael Pollan and Barbara Kingsolver.
As indicated by the John Dewey quotation on the welcome page, however, the course as a whole is INQUIRY-CENTERED, with hands-on analysis of the above-mentioned sources motivated by broad questions about the nature of religious experience, secular life and the sacred. To encourage this analysis, I will return repeatedly to three broad, interrelated questions that push our thinking beyond prevaling stereotypes about religious vs. secular religious experience, which have guided my selection of sources and assignments:
- How have food-related practices, both religious and secular, inspired peoples' thoughts & experiences of the sacred?
- How have thoughts and experiences of the sacred heightened people's engagement in such food-related practices?
- As food-related religious and secular cultures evolved over generations, centuries and millennia, how have their practices and thoughts & experiences of the sacred shaped and reshaped each other?
I will tell you up front my own answered to these questions, formulated over many years of studying religious traditions against the background of secular culture. (See the conceptual overview, "Beyond Belief," the introductory essay, "Essential Elements of Religious Life.") I will then ask you to spend the semester working out your own ideas about these questions.
IMPORTANT NOTE: like most offerings in this department, "Food, Farming & the Sacred" is **READING INTENSIVE,** assuming that you will dedicate 5-7 hours per week for reading and assignments outside of class time. Team-based learning will be the primary mode of engaging with primary sources (see www.teambasedlearning.org), facilitated by testing and inter-class communication through SacCT, the university's on-line instructional system.
Course Policies (PDF download)