The BBC Religions website provides a good basic introduction to the world's major belief systems. Among those covered on the site are: atheism; Bahá'i; Buddhism; Christianity; Hinduism; Islam; Judaism; Mormonism; Paganism; and Sikhism. For each belief system, there are brief articles about beliefs, history, and customs, and also a selection of features about notable aspects of the religion, or topical issues connected with it. Each section contains a short list of relevant links. There are also message boards to facilitate discussion: these include both forums devoted to specific faiths, and more general ones. Inevitably, a site with as wide a brief as this cannot provide an in-depth analysis of the finer points of religious belief, but as an introductory overview, it succeeds very well. The site is easy to navigate, and is attractively presented with plenty of illustrations. A valuable resource for anyone embarking on the study of religions.
The online version of the Concise Dictionary of Religion is a fast and simple to use reference tool for students and teachers of religious studies. Based on Irving Hexham's (Department of Religious Studies, University of Calgary) book of the same name, first published in 1994, the dictionary is essentially an alphabetical index of brief entries for major religious thinkers, ideas, and axioms from an array of philosophical and belief systems. Unfortunately, however, it does not appear to be possible to search the site. Students new to the discipline of religious studies may wish to explore Dr Hexham's reading list, also offered via the site (although users should note that as this was last updated in 1998, the most recent works will not be included).
This website provides guidance to undergraduates on how to write papers in religion. The work is prepared by Susan Darnell and Karen Gocsik of Dartmouth College, USA. Their ideas are presented using the following headings: The challenges and purposes of writing in religion; The argument paper; The historical essay; The comparative essay; Exegesis; Special topics; Tips for writing the religion paper; and Useful links. Where appropriate, hyperlinks are provided to materials appearing elsewhere on the Dartmouth Writing Program website, of which this page is part.
This is the homepage of the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Alabama. The department encourages descriptive and comparative studies of religion by focusing on cross-cultural beliefs, practices and institutions, from both contemporary and historical perspectives. The site informs visitors about the academic courses on offer; recent events; and the lecture series they organise. Of particular interest to students of religion is a section on 'Studying Religion'. This gives an introduction to ways to define and study religion. It is regularly updated and organises the materials under the following headings: Essentials of Religion; Functions of Religion; Resemblances Among Religions; Religion and Classification. It also provides a case study; a glossary of terms; and the biographies of the scholars whose works were referred to in the section. The site provides a search engine.
'Exploring Religions' is a website that offers a general introduction to Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam and Judaism. It is sponsored by the Religious Studies Program at the University of Wyoming. This resource gives a description of the philosophical presuppositions, central tenets, worshipping practices and historical backgrounds of these faith traditions as well as the texts that are associated with them. Although the work is clearly presented, the contents are not referenced and are reflective only of the writer's understanding of the different traditions. It can nevertheless serve as an interesting starting point for those seeking a basic understanding of these five religions. Glossaries of terms and a small selection of photographs help elucidate the issues discussed. Links to other sites are also provided.
This is the home page of the project developed by the Ackland Art Museum to promote inter-faith communication among the different religious communities in North Carolina. The project uses the museum's collection of religious art as a starting point for exploring Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam and Judaism - five religions with the strongest following in the area. These are complemented by: a photography workshop where local youths are given the opportunity to capture on film their traditions and heritage; a story-telling workshop in which adults representing the five religions could present stories from their faith traditions; and the development of a series of teaching posters. Some of the outcomes are displayed on this web page. The site also offers a set of guidelines designed for those intending to use religious art to teach about a culture, religion or society; and online lesson plans. Links are provided to the home page of the Ackland Art Museum and other useful websites.
The European Institute of Religious Studies, part of the École Pratique des Hautes Études in France, brings together research centres related to religion and acts as a centre of expertise on the history of religions and contemporary religious questions. One of its main goals is to draw connections between researchers and academics in religious studies and the teaching of religious studies at the primary and secondary school level. To this end the Institute's website includes information on its training programmes and seminars, as well as a number of resources, primarily in French, that can be adapted for teaching purposes. These resources, found in the virtual library, include summaries of books or articles and suggestions for their use in teaching, and cover: general religion; Christianity; Islam; Judaism; secularism; school and religion; Europe and religions; and religious studies. Many of these resources would be appropriate for a higher education context. The site also has a good selection of links on these topics. The site will be of interest to students and lecturers looking for references on religious studies.
The Ism Book website, written by Peter Saint-Andre, provides a set of brief definitions of various movements, concepts, and ideas in philosophy, religion, politics, the arts, and science (with emphasis on the first three of these areas). The home page has a featured "ism" or word, with its accompanying definition, and the complete list of defined words can be accessed through the "surf the site" section. The definitions are clear and concise, and generally well-informed. Many definitions contain hyperlinks to other related terms on the site. The resource is maintained by one person and is therefore far from exhaustive. It is clearly intended as a guide to these concepts for the relatively uninitiated, and is likely to be most useful as a quick reference guide for those studying AS/A level philosophy and RS, or for those embarking on undergraduate courses.
PHILosophy, Theology And Religion (PHILTAR) is a website that serves as a gateway to online academic materials on philosophy, theology, and religion. The philosophy section classifies resources into: general philosophy; Chinese philosophy; Indian philosophy; Islamic philosophy; philosophy of mathematics; and Russian philosophy. Also available is a compendium of philosophers, which contains more than a thousand names, arranged alphabetically. The religion section contains links to sites on trans-cultural religions (offering a useful introduction to the major world faiths); regional religions; and science and religion, plus PHILTAR's own encyclopaedia of religion. Unfortunately, the site seems to be incomplete: although a theology section (supposedly dealing with Biblical studies and church history) is advertised on the front page, this appears to be devoid of content. The site also does not seem to be updated frequently. However, at time of review, the proportion of broken links was relatively low, and the site remains a useful resource in the areas of philosophy, religion, and religious education.
RS-Web (Religious Studies on the Web) is designed and written by Robert Bowie, a Senior Lecturer in Religious Studies at Canterbury Christ Church University. It contains a number of interesting resources like annotated links to relevant websites; bibliographies; discussion topics; ethical quotes; glossaries; and links to online Bibles and commentaries. These are organised into the following topics: Ethics; Philosophy of Religion; Religious Education; Biblical Studies; and Theology. There are also Study Support resources like essay writing and examination tips. Although primarily targeted at A-Level students, this resource is suitable for undergraduate use. It would also be of interest to anyone seaching for introductory materials on Christianity and Ethics.
Teaching About Religion is an online resource which is sponsored by OABITAR (Objectivity, Accuracy, and Balance in Teaching About Religion), a non-profit educational organization based in California. It aims to help school teachers in the US deal with the subject of religion in their History, Social Studies and/or Religious Studies classes in a manner which neither promotes nor inhibits religion, yet supportive of religious pluralism and religious freedom. This website provides background information on topics like religious liberty, neutrality, diversity and civic responsibilities. It also offers an overview of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, Sikhism, Taoism, Deism and the nonreligious perspective; a list of classroom DOs & DON'Ts and OKs & NOT OKs; lesson plans; a methods minicourse entitled Religious Neutrality, Teaching in a Pluralistic Classroom; and access to relevant websites.
This website contains an online handout designed to assist undergraduates at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill write research papers in religious studies. It is prepared by the staff at the university's Writing Center. The materials are delivered using the following headings: Religious studies is an interdisciplinary field; Religion vs Religious studies - special considerations; Writing tasks in religious studies; Comparative essays; Critical readings of religious texts; Ethnographic studies; Historical analyses; Journal entries (questions about individual source materials, comparative questions about your sources, questions about your own thinking); and Some definitions in religious studies (belief, deity, faith, holy books, ritual, tradition). The handout is also suitable for the use of instructors of religious studies.
Internet for Religious Studies is a free "teach yourself" tutorial on the Web, covering Internet information skills for religious studies and theology. The tutorial is aimed at students, lecturers, and researchers who want to improve their knowledge of the best Internet resources for this subject area. Internet for Religious Studies is one of a set of tutorials within Intute's Virtual Training Suite. Each course consists of: a tour of some key sites; techniques for discovering additional Web resources; guidelines for critically evaluating such resources; and a selection of illustrative stories showing different ways that the Internet may be used for academic purposes. The tutorials may also be used to support teaching and training courses; a page for teachers offers suggestions for using the material in a class setting. Each tutorial is written by subject specialists. Intute's Virtual Training Suite receives funding from the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC).
Directed and primarily authored by Richard Hooker at Washington State University, the 'World Civilizations' website is a superior example of the integration of electronic materials and resources into a teaching or classroom setting. Designed as a series of survey courses, the pages broadly track the development and influence of major world cultures from around the world, while highlighting key philosophical, religious and textual themes. There are a number of ways to navigate these pages, but familiarisation with the layout does take a little while.
To begin, it is recommended that users first enter the 'contents' section and select the learning modules. From here one can browse a variety of cultural traditions in detail, and gain a better insight into what this resource has to offer. The learning modules themselves are directed specifically towards undergraduates at the beginning of their university studies. Information is provided on: early traditions (including Egypt, Mesopotamia, and Israel); Africa; China; European traditions; Islam; India; Japan; and Native North Americans. Each is laid out as a series of introductory electronic lectures complemented by selections of primary texts and a glossary of key terms. Many also come complete with a helpful introductory bibliography and a selection of additional external Internet resources. As a teaching resource, the scope of the site is so comprehensive that it can stand independently or easily complement any introductory class on world religions and culture. For students, the rapid access to pre-selected primary resources coupled with lectures and reference materials makes it an invaluable learning tool that will both illuminate and enhance any study environment. This is an archived site.