Classes for Everyone

Prayer Room Stained Glass

The Ansari Institute is pleased to present Classes for Everyone. Through this special series of online courses, we invite participants to deepen their understanding of religion and the important role it plays in our world.

These courses, which are designed for a general audience, are not for academic credit. They are free and open to the public. Classes cover a range of topics on religion and its practical application for personal enrichment, community engagement, interfaith encounters, and informed activism.

Classes meet weekly. Depending on the number of people who enroll in each class, interaction with the instructor will be managed through a combination of video, voice, and real-time chat functions.

Spring 2021: Imagining New Stories of Race & Religion

Instructor: David Hooker

January 14 - February 18

Registration for this course has closed. Class discussions are available to watch on YouTube, and the class playlist will be updated weekly during the course.

Watch Class Discussions

About the Course

We live our lives in stories. Stories tell us who we are, what we owe to others and the past, what worlds we inhabit in the present, and where we want to go in the future. They help us fight oppression, though they can also justify it, or make certain kinds of oppression invisible. But the world is changing. Perhaps, our stories need to change with it. In this course, participants will be introduced to narrative theory to examine the role of religion and race in local and global conflicts. The stories we tell ourselves position people and groups as characters in asymmetric power relations. They shape our expectations, craft our ideals, nurture our ambitions, construct authority, and provide us with a moral compass. Racialized narratives can create conflict, while certain narratives have the potential to heal and form community. Using case studies that the instructor is directly engaged in, participants will explore how approaches to “religious” or “racial” history, mission, and dialogue contribute to local, regional, or global reconciliation efforts. If we can imagine new stories, we can change the world.

About the Instructor

David Hooker

David Hooker is an associate professor of the practice of conflict transformation and peacebuilding. He is a core faculty member of the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, an integral part of the Keough School of Global Affairs at the University of Notre Dame.

Hooker has worked with communities, governments, and international NGOs and civil society organizations on post-conflict community building, environmental justice, and other issues of public policy and social justice. He has managed multi-party conflicts, conducted workshops, and consulted across the U.S. and around the world.

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Fall 2020: Everyday Religion in a World of Many Faiths

This class has now concluded. Thank you to everyone who joined us for these important discussions during the fall 2020 semester. We appreciate your interest in exploring these important questions. 

Instructor: Adnan Aslan

Thursdays, 6:30 - 7:45 p.m. 

September 3 - November 5

All major religions invite us to live contemplative lives. But it is ever more challenging to do so today when there is less time to contemplate. This is ironic because of the greater diversity of faiths all around us: at work, at home, and in public. What is my approach to the big questions that define life? Am I consistently inclusive, exclusive, or pluralistic, and what does that say about my faith? Are there limits to the friendships I can form with others? Am I reasonable in my faith? Have I reconciled with “the problem of evil” in the world? Does science require us to rethink our traditional positions on ancient wisdom? Join this class to examine these kinds of questions in order to better understand yourself and your neighbors. While there is a text to guide our explorations—Chad Meister’s Introducing Philosophy of Religion—the course is primarily conversational, relying on the stories and active engagement of the participants.

About the Instructor

Adnan Aslan

Adnan Aslan is a faculty associate at Indiana University South Bend. Previously, he served as the dean of faculty of humanities and social science in Süleyman Şah University in Istanbul, Turkey for five years. His primary scholarly interests include religious pluralism, inter-religious dialogue, Islam and modernity, perennial philosophy, interfaith relations, and the problem of evil.

Aslan has published scholarly articles and books both in English and Turkish in the field of religious studies and the philosophy of religion.

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