Teaching Comparative Religion: Problems of Subjectivity

By James Earl.

Published by The International Journal of Religion and Spirituality in Society

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

No student doing a math course has their ‘own’ math; whereas the student of religion is likely to have their own religion, or a position in relation to religion, such as agnosticism or atheism. Designing and teaching the comparative religion course at Richmond, the American International University in London, has helped me reflect on the problem of subjectivity, and how it is intrinsic to the discipline of comparative religion. It demands a specific conceptual framework, ethical awareness and pedagogic practice which this paper seeks to outline. Using Richmond as a case study, I propose an existential ontological approach to the teaching situation, and make specific practice recommendations. Richmond is fortunate to have 110 nationalities in its student body and members of all the major faiths. It has been the perfect environment to explore these issues with students and faculty colleagues.

Keywords: Subjectivity, Comparative, Pedagogy, Teaching, Practice, Ethics, Existentialism, Ontology

The International Journal of Religion and Spirituality in Society, Volume 1, Issue 4, pp.115-122. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 698.981KB).

Asst. Prof. James Earl

Assistant Professor of Humanities, Department of Humanities, Social Sciences & Communications, Richmond the American International University in London, London, UK

I designed and teach the Comparative Religion course at Richmond. My other subjects are philosophy, specializing in ethics. I have an unorthodox academic background in that I became a teacher late in life, having a Masters Degree in social work. I have used my group work experience to advantage in my teaching practice. I am also training as a Counsellor with Relate, who specialize in Relationship Therapy. I combine an interest in religion and philosophy with a knowledge of group dynamics and a focus on pedagogic practice.