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date: 18 January 2021

Abstract and Keywords

Teaching about religion in American higher education has been shaped by multiple contexts, from the personal and institutional through the national and international. One persistent question concerns the purposes of teaching about religion, from Christian character formation to broad religious literacy as a prerequisite for informed citizenship. As the number of departments grew throughout the twentieth century, fundamental disagreements about the purposes of collegiate study of religion, the ideal curriculum, and the role of the teacher persisted. Contemporary movements, like advocating for religious literacy, “contemplative pedagogy,” and the push for infusing “spirituality” into higher education actually reprise earlier arguments. The field remains divided on several fundamental issues.

Keywords: religious literacy, character formation, religious studies, curriculum, capstone, contemplative pedagogy, spirituality, major, higher education

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