FAITH Choose a minium of 3 headings from the ‘Religion in Britain: Challenges for higher Education.’ Stimulus paper (Modood & Calhoun, 2015) The PDF can be found on Moodle. Discuss two things that you learnt from the text. And one question/provocation you have about the text.

The three headings that I chose to take a look at are Multiculturalism (page 6) The public sphere (pg10) and Religion and dissent in universities (pg 16).

In the words of Professor Sir Robert Burgess in the foreword of the paper Modood & Calhoun ‘Examine issues concerned with the place of religion in contemporary society and in turn the part it plays in higher education.’ According to the paper, ‘many of these issues are not just matters of intellectual debate but require practical solutions on a daily basis.’ Factoring in Multi-culturalism to this comment, leads me to come to the thought that, as the University has a significant cohort of International students that as educators we have a responsibility to learn the ‘practical solutions’ to foster an inclusive learning space.

Modood & Calhoun talk about ‘religious literacy’ in part responsible due to the ‘decline of public religion in Britain’ and in particular, leaders in higher education not recognising the ‘importance that religion has for some individuals and groups’ i.e. family and social lives, community membership, ethical orientation and spirituality. That leaders in higher education see faith as a ‘problem to be managed, not people to be sympathetically and empathetically understood and accommodated.’

What are the physical steps to contribute to a fairer / accommodating learning environment? How can the university communicate understanding of ‘feeling that minorities need to be included without having to assimilate, without having to conform to the norms and attitudes of the majority.’

Listening to the needs of staff and students, to make the university a space that embraces faith of all kinds is paramount. Whether that takes the form of gender segregation or dress codes, it is vital that religious literacy factors into university structure.

I did have a gripe, (mainly to do with not fully understanding, I would appreciate some clarity from you folks) with the passage in the Religion and dissent in Universities section:

‘Sexuality is also a broader concern often exacerbated by religious intolerance. Like gender roles, it has public importance for some people of faith that may seem disproportionate to scriptural or theological underpinnings. Both have become litmus tests for maintaining religious values against secular society.  They are associated with defence of the traditional family and more generally treated as defining values for traditional identities. Discussion of different ‘non-binary’ sexual and gender identities is growing on universities campuses. Liberating for some students, it is unsettling for others. Condemnation of homosexuality is especially prominent, with both religious leaders and lay people citing sacred sources for it (often contested by others). And of course issues of gender and sexuality have an embodied immediacy not matched by more abstract concerns. Homophobia in particular is often visceral, and by no means limited to immigrants or adherents of non-Western religions. Gender and sexuality are challenging issues for universities that struggle to combine respect for religion with clarity that a lack of respect or denigration based on gender or sexuality cannot be countenanced.’

Is the passage above saying that by integrating faith into society that this will open up a tolerance of non traditional orientations?

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