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Monash University

Monash University Handbook 2011 Postgraduate - Unit

12 points, SCA Band 1, 0.250 EFTSL

Refer to the specific census and withdrawal dates for the semester(s) in which this unit is offered.

FacultyFaculty of Arts
OfferedNot offered in 2011
Coordinator(s)Constant Mews and Kate Rigby


Previously coded RLM4110


This unit will introduce students to the history of changing attitudes towards nature and the sacred from ancient times to the present through the examination of a variety of religious, philosophical and literary texts, with particular emphasis on the implications of such attitudes for environmental sustainability. It will consider in succession mythic narratives about creation from traditional cultures (e.g. Aboriginal, Celtic, Middle Eastern), Greek philosophical reflection on the cosmos, the impact of monotheism (Jewish, Christian, Islamic), the rise of mechanistic science, Romanticism, and the emergence of a range of contemporary ecospiritualities (neopaganism, 'greenfaith').


Students who successfully complete this unit will:

  1. acquire a broad overview of the evolution of thinking about nature and the sacred, from the earliest records of mythic thought to most recent thinking on ecospirituality, with particular reference to the idea of paradigm shifts
  2. acquire expertise in reading and analysing mythological, religious and scientific narratives about creation with particular reference to the assumptions about nature and the sacred which underpin them
  3. become familiar with critical debate about a variety of issues connected to sustainability and the sacred, such as the significance of animist beliefs or devotion to mother earth, the contribution of monotheistic traditions to thinking about nature, the scientific revolution and the romantic reenchantment of the world
  4. develop the skill of presenting both orally and in writing their own reasoned reflections about the relationship between environmental sustainability and changing notions of the sacred
  5. acquire the capacity to carry out a sustained research project on an approved subject of their choice.


Exercise (1000 words): 20%
Class paper (1000 words): 20%
Research essay (7000 words): 50%
Oral presentation: 10%

Contact hours

2 hours (1 x 2 hour seminar) per week


ATS4339, APG5339