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Monash University

Monash University Handbook 2010 Undergraduate - Unit

6 points, SCA Band 1, 0.125 EFTSL

FacultyFaculty of Arts
OfferedCaulfield Second semester 2010 (Day)
Clayton Second semester 2010 (Day)
Coordinator(s)Julian Millie


Is secularism on the wane, as we witness a significant resurgence of interest in religion? This unit explores new forms of religiosity that are shaping the way many people respond to today's globalising world. Major trends include the rise of fundamentalist streams in the world religions, the proliferation of revitalization movements supporting local religious traditions, and the emergence of post-modern forms of religion such as New Age and eco-spirituality. These value-focused belief systems reinterpret the meaning of contemporary life experience, but they are also concerned about global crises and injustices and propose utopian alternatives to the prevalent ethos of materialism and greed.


On successfully completing this unit, students will be able to

  1. analyse contemporary and emerging forms of religiosity in historical terms - namely, through an understanding of
    1. the co-evolution of modern religion, science and capitalist economies in Europe from the Enlightenment period to the mid-20th century and
    2. subsequent departures from the project of modernity since WW2
  2. compare and analyse the different, alternative forms of modernity and post-modernity that are currently being created in non-Western countries through new interpretations of Islam, Hinduism and other world religions
  3. define the political circumstances and socio-economic conditions that are leading to a renewed prominence of religion in contemporary political life in general and in relation to particular cases, such as Islamic, Christian and Hindu fundamentalism
  4. characterize the global trend toward a revitalization of local religious traditions and the ways this process can generate not only religious ethno-nationalism and conflicts with immigrant populations, but also avenues for local resistance to disenfranchisement through globalization
  5. articulate the context and identify the causes that have precipitated a globalization of Pentecostal and Charismatic Christianity and the relative decline of public support for mainstream Christian churches
  6. compare, contrast and identify commonalities among a range of emerging New-Age spiritualities that are advocating a post-modern utopic religious pluralism, based on freedom of individual expression, personal religious experience and a monistic universalism
  7. evaluate contemporary forms of Shamanism, Witchcraft and Paganism as attempts to rediscover and rework pre-modern forms of religiosity for a post-modern world
  8. identify and compare the core values of alternative religious and spiritual movements
  9. critically consider what contribution religion and alternative spiritualities can make to solving some of the most pressing psychological, social, environmental, economic and political problems of a globalising world.


Exam(2hours): 40%
Written work: 40% (2,500 words):
Class presentation/participation: 20%

Contact hours

1 one-hour lecture and 1 one-hour tutorial per week for 11 weeks

This unit applies to the following area(s) of study

Religion and theology
International studies


INT1010 and INT1020 or ANY1010 and ANY1020 or SCY1100 and SCY1200 or RLT1010 and RLT1020 unit, or permission of the unit coordinator.