South Asian Religions & Ecology

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  • MODULE 1: Course Introduction
  • MODULE 2: Introduction to South Asian Ecological Challenges and Religion and Ecology
    • We examine some of the key environmental problems in India and the larger region. With over a billion people and with rapid industrialization, levels of pollution of air, water, and soil have increased dramatically in the last several decades. We then explore the intersections of religion and ecology and its promises for South Asia.
  • MODULE 3: Hinduism and Ecology - From Vedas to Vedanta (Upanishads)
    • We explore some of the oldest scriptures in the world, the Vedas and the Upanishads, and their connections to nature. These foundational texts have been studied and interpreted for centuries in India and are now translated into many languages. They have also influenced many Western writers and thinkers such as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, and T.S. Elliot. Now their ecological implications are being appreciated for religious environmentalism.
  • MODULE 4: Hinduism and Loving Devotion (Bhakti) in Practice
    • We examine the teachings of the Bhagavad Gita, especially the idea of devotion (bhakti), namely, affection to the divine as manifested in human and natural forms. Major examples of such devotion are found in the sacred rivers of India, namely the Yamuna and Ganga. We also highlight Hindu perspectives on food, animals, and biodiversity.
  • MODULE 5: Yoga and Jainism - Detachment from and Affirmation of the World
    • We look at the teachings of yoga as both an ancient philosophy and a modern practice with ecological implications. We then explore the significance of yoga for environmental awareness and action. We conclude by examining the ecological teachings of Jainism and its reverence for all forms of life.
  • MODULE 6: Buddhism and Ecology: The Interdependence of All Reality
    • This module explores the basic teachings of Buddhism and their relevance to the environment. We discuss the life of the Buddha and his key insight regarding the interdependence of all reality. We then consider the spread of Buddhism across Asia and its diverse expressions in art and culture. We also recognize the presence of Buddhism in the West and its influence on ecological engagement.
  • MODULE 7: Buddhism in Southeast Asia: Engaged Conservation
    • This module explores Buddhist forest protection in Southeast Asia as well as Buddhist attitudes toward food, animals, and biodiversity. The teachings of the Vietnamese Buddhist monk, Thích Nhất Hạnh, are highlighted with particular attention to “interbeing,” or interdependence.
  • MODULE 8: Sikhism and the Baha’i Faith: Unity of Spirit and Matter
    • We examine the teachings of Sikhism as articulated by their founder, Guru Nanak, and their central scripture, Adi Granth. In Sikh understanding there is no separation between humans and the rest of nature; this gives rise to an environmental ethic of care explicitly expressed in Sikh tree planting and a social justice ethic focused on food distribution. The second section emphasizes the Baha’i Faith and the ways it integrates the teaching of unity with ecological knowledge and engagement. For several decades, the Baha’i Faith has been actively engaged in international forums on the environment.
  • MODULE 9: Course Conclusion