LAI, Ah Eng (Dr), Adjunct Senior Fellow,
University Scholars Programme (USP), National University of Singapore
18 College Avenue East, University Town, Singapore 183593
Office: Cinnamon West Learn Lobe #02-05 tel: 6516-1874 email: email@example.com
Consultation hours: Mon & Wed 11-12 noon, 4.30- 6 p.m, and by appointment
- Module Description
- Modes of Teaching and Learning
- Learning Outcomes
- Class Requirements and Attributes
- Readings, Resources and Research
- Assessment Components
- Other Class Policies
- Curriculum and Schedule Plan
This module develops a nuanced understanding of expressions and issues related to religion in contemporary contexts, grounded in historical and sociological perspectives. It explores various socio-cultural, political, economic and other forces and processes that impact the manifold and complex issues related to religion and its intersections with society in global, national and local contexts. Beginning with problematizing the category “religion” and tracing its emergence historically and contextually as an analytical domain, the material is organized to introduce the multiple, complex and sometimes opposing strands and arguments in many social science studies of religion. This multi-disciplinary module emphasizes both the empirical and the theoretical issues that surface in studying religions and religious issues. There is also a particular focus on religious diversity and issues in Singapore wherever relevant.
Modes of Teaching and Learning
- Seminars with active participation, presentation and leading of discussions by students.
- Fieldwork, field observations and case studies.
- Presentations and written assignments (group, individual) involving research.
At the end of the module, students would have learnt to:
- explain and evaluate some important conceptual and theoretical frameworks used to study and understand the complex and diverse forms of contemporary religiosity and religious issues;
- understand the historical contexts of the changing landscapes and role of religions in various societies and their socio-political processes, such as colonization, modernization, and globalization;
- understand various important dimensions – spiritual, social, moral, political, technological, material – of “living religions” and how these dimensions may relate to one another;
- understand religion as a social institution while paying equal attention to the realm of individual experience and practice particularly in everyday and community life;
- dialogue with, and challenge, the theoretical and empirical materials offered;
- understand and analyse some major religious issues in the contemporary world;
- understand and appreciate Singapore’s religious landscape and diversity and its particular challenges; and
- undertake simple fieldwork research on specific topics related to religious diversity and issues in Singapore.
- This is an advance level module. This module will be conducted only if there is minimum of eight students for reasons of group research and its requirements. If there are fewer than eight students, each student may opt to do an independent study module (ISM) based on an approved research topic. Students who must travel for other modules during recess week are advised against taking this module as group fieldwork overlaps with recess week.
- This module requires regular attendance and attentive listening, regular presentations and writing, and keeping up with readings.
- Students are expected to contribute actively to class discussion, do good research, and work independently as well as in teams.
Readings, Resources and Research
- Readings are drawn mostly from the works of contemporary social scientists (theoretical and empirical) and also include some media sources.
- There will be some focus and discussion on how to conduct simple research.
- Students have to undertake one group-based field research project and one small individual research project..
Assessment Components (100% CA, no exams)
- Individual research project (5%): On (non)religious dimensions of personal-family-community history.
- Group field research project (40%, group grade): on religious sites and issues in an assigned location in Singapore.
- Personal reflections on group field research project (5%).
- Term paper (40%): on an assigned topic or approved proposed topic.
- Presentation and leading discussion (10%): presentation and discussion of 1-2 assigned readings.
Details of assessment components:
- Individual Research Project (5%)
- This is a small research project on the topic of (non)religious dimensions in personal-family-community history.
- Write up should be 800-1000 words in length.
- Submission date – see separate curriculum and timetable document. One digital copy (in Word, not pdf) should be submitted via email.
- Group Field Research Project (40%, Group Grade)
- Students will be organised in groups of 4-5 students for research visits to 3-4 religious sites (see separate information on group research project to be provided in class).
- Students will make a group presentation of their research. Assessment of group presentation in class is 20%. A group grade will be given.
- Students will write and submit a group report. Assessment of group report is 80% of total grade. A group grade will be given.
- The group report should include a title, an abstract (about 200 words), full names of group members, and 5-6 key words. Length of report should be no more than 20 pages (including footnotes, excluding references and pictures). Format of paper: double space, Calibri font size 12, use footnotes (not endnotes), and APA style for references. One digital copy of the report should be submitted via email.
- Personal Reflections on Group Field Research Project (5%)
- Each student can write freely about what he/she has personally learnt about religion/s and issues from the field research exposure.
- The writeup should be between 1-2 pages and should be submitted separately from the group report, with full name of student and group project research sites.
- For submission date – see curriculum and timetable. One digital copy of each should be submitted via email.
- Term Paper (40%)
- Students can choose a topic from an assigned list or propose a topic which must be approved by the instructor.
- For a proposed topic, the student must submit a proposal (about 200 words) that includes a working title, scope, aim, focus/issue and methodology. Discussion with the instructor on the proposal will take place before finalisation and approval of the topic.
- The written assignment should include a final abstract (about 200-250 words) and 5-6 key words. Length of paper should be 2,500 – 3,000 words (about 10 pages, excluding title, abstract, footnotes, tables and references) and please provide word count. Format of paper: double space, Calibri font size 12, use footnotes (not endnotes), and APA style for references.
- The assignment should be submitted by the end of the semester Reading Week – see curriculum and timetable document. One digital copy (in Word, not pdf) should be submitted via email.
- Seminar Presentation and Discussion, Class Participation (10%)
- Each student is required to make at least 1-2 presentations of a particular topic and to lead in its discussion. A date for presentation will be assigned to each student randomly. You are allowed to exchange presentation topics with your classmates but please inform the instructor of any change.
- Most seminars around a theme will probably have 2-3 presenters, with each student assigned a particular reading.
- Each student’s presentation should take about 15-20 minutes, followed by a 10 min discussion.
- For the presentation, only a brief summary is required. Focus on what you consider the 2-3 most significant questions, dimensions, or issues relevant to the seminar topic provided by the readings, and analyse and evaluate how the author answers or deals with them. Then suggest some questions, issues and ideas arising from the reading/s for discussion.
Other Class Policies
- Students are expected to be punctual (the class starts on time), observe regular attendance (which will be taken) and to participate actively in discussions and projects.
- Deadlines/penalties: Unless you have a legitimate and documented excuse for not being able to submit an assignment on time, deadlines will not be extended and penalties will apply for late assignments. If you are unable to attend a class, it is your responsibility to find out what was discussed and required.
- Academic integrity: Academic dishonesty (e.g. cheating, plagiarism, fabrication) is a very serious violation of trust and will result in a failing grade; students will also be referred to university authorities for disciplinary action. Plagiarism—the use of other people’s ideas as if they were your own—is a serious offence. Your assignments will be submitted for checking. If you are unclear about how to properly use or cite scholarly work, please consult me. There are also websites with useful information about what constitutes plagiarism, how to use sources appropriately, and how to evaluate your sources (particularly internet sources). See, for example, http://www.plagiarism.org/.
Curriculum & Schedule Plan
- Introductions; Querying the category ‘religion’: conceptual, methodological and contextual issues (week 1).
- Religious traditions, innovations and re-interpretations; revival and resurgence: `traditional’ and indigenous religions; repackaging ‘traditional’ religions and emergence of ‘New Religious Movements’ (week 2).
- Spread of religions; global and local processes; diversity, pluralism and integration issues (week 3 & week 4).
- Proselitisation, conversion and religious switching (week 4 & week 5).
- Religious diversity in Southeast Asia & Singapore 1: expressions and issues (week 5).
- Religious diversity in Singapore 2: group field research on religious sites pre-fieldwork group discussion and preparation (week 5 & week 6).
- Religious diversity in Singapore 3: Fieldwork (week 6 & recess week)
- Religious diversity in Singapore 4: class-based post-fieldwork discussion and preparation of group presentations and reports (week 7).
- Religious diversity in Singapore 5: group presentations (week 7 & week 8).
- Religion and Gender: Gender roles; feminism and equality; gender orientation (week 9)
- Religious fundamentalism (week 9 & week 10).
- Religiosity and secularism; religion in the private-public spheres (week 10 & 11).
- Religion and spheres of public engagement in Singapore (week 11)
- Religion and Politics 1: Religious Competition and Conflict (week 11)
- Religion and Politics 2: Religious Conflict and Reconciliation: Movie and discussion (week 12)
- Multi-religiosity and inter-religious encounters: dialogue and collaboration (week 12).
- Overview and consultations (week 13).