Academic Programs 
      

Learning from Africa: Faith, Community and Family   (DI-670)
January Interession and Winter/Spring 2007

The African reality is as complex and changing as the continent is vast. In this course, we will focus on how members of the three major religions in Ghana – indigenous, Christianity and Islam – interact in ways that minimize interreligious conflicts and promote peaceful and harmonious relationships. The course will use, as a case study, the paradigm of the Circle of Concerned African Women Theologians, as a model for interfaith relations.

 

Meeting Day, Time and Dates: 
Thursdays, from 4:30 p.m. to 6:50 p.m., beginning February 1



Elizabeth Amoah
Adjunct Professor of Theology and Senior Lecturer in Religion, University of Ghana

Contact Information:
phone: 
(860) 509-9500
email:

 

Course Syllabus



Course Description:

The African reality is as complex and changing as the vast continent. In Africa, the three concepts, Faith, Community and Family cannot, to a large extent, be placed in water- tight compartments. In certain African situations these concepts overlap in such ways that religious pluralism and multi-culturalism do not necessarily pose grave danger.

In the above course we shall focus on how the members of the three major religions, namely, the Indigenous African Religions/ Spirituality, Islam and Christianity in Ghana interact and intersect at various levels in such ways that minimise inter- religious conflicts and promote peaceful and harmonious relationships.

As a case study we shall use the paradigm of the Circle of the Concerned African women Theologians (Circle) and the Federation of Moslem Women Association in Ghana (FOMWAG) with regard to peaceful inter-religious relationships
Using multifaceted methodologies such as anthropological, historical and
phenomenological as well as the theological approaches, we hope to unearth a rich variation of viable paradigms of how the major religions on the continent intersect in the form of exchange and adaptation.

DETAILED COURSE OUTLINE:

Course Requirements:

1. All students are to punctually attend lectures and class activities
2. Each student will present a two to three- paged presentations after each session for assessment.
3. Each student will take part in small group discussions to share personal experiences of inter-religious relationships and suggest creative projects that people of different faiths can do together to enhance viable relationships.
4. Each student will critically appraise at least one of the reading materials for assessment.
5. At the end of the semester each student will write eight to ten- paged papers for final assessment.

Required Books:

African Traditional Religion in the Modern World / Douglas E. Thomas, Jefferson, N.C.; London : McFarland, c2005
Arkoun, M. 1994, Rethinking Islam: Common Questions, Uncommon Answers (Translated and edited by Robert D. Lee) Westview Press San Francisco, London
Religion: Empirical Studies (edit) Steven J. Sutcliffe, Ashgate, USA.
African Women Religion and Health: Essays in Honor of Mercy Amba Ewudziwa Oduyoye (eds) Isabel A. Phiri and Sarojini Nadar. Orbis Books

The other readings will be available on reserve at the Hartford Seminary Library.

1. Week 1: Introducing the Course; discussion on reading materials

2. Week 2- -4: Exploring the context of our study; the African reality: historical, cultural and social religious etc reality

Readings:
A: Platvoet, J.G, Cox, J. Olupona, J. (eds.) 1996, The study of Religions in Africa; Past Present and Prospects. Roots and Branches, Cambridge: P. 46- 102:
B: Gyekye, K. 2002, African cultural Values: An introduction: Sankofa Publication Company, Accra
C: Assimeng, M. 1981, Social Structure of Ghana. Ghana Publishing Corporation, Accra
D: Mbiti, J. S. 1992 (second edition) African Traditional Religion and Philosophy. Chapters 1-8; 19-20
E: Olupona, J.K., & T. Falola (eds.) 1991, Religion and Society in Nigeria: historical and sociological perspectives. Ibadan (Nigeria): Spectrum Books. Chapters 2-3; 10, 12-13
F: Opoku, K. A, 1978, West African Traditional Religion: F. E. P. International Private Ltd.
G. Clarke, P. B., 1982, West Africa and Islam Edward Arnold Ltd. London.
F. African traditional religion in the modern world / Douglas E. Thomas,Jefferson, N.C. ; London : McFarland, c2005.

3. Week 5-7: Religious pluralism in Africa and the interplay between faith, community and family; The Traditional Ghanaian spirituality and inter-religious relationship

Readings: A. Olupona, J. K., S. S. Nyang (eds.) 1993, Religious Plurality in Africa, Essays in honour of John S. Mbiti. Mouton de Gruyter.

B. Abraham, K. C. (edit.) 2005, Inter-Faith Dialogue, listening to African Voices in Voices From The Third World. Vol. XXVIII No. 2
C. Hick, J. 1985; Problems of Religious Pluralism. The Macmillan Press Ltd., London
D. Arkoun, M. 1994, Rethinking Islam; Common Questions, Uncommon Answers: (Translated and edited by Robert D. Lee) Westview Press San Francisco, London Chapters, 3, 12
E. Ela, J. M., 1988 My Faith as an African Orbis Books Maryknoll, New York.
D. Amoah E. 2004, African Spirituality, Religion and Innovation, in Religion: Empirical Studies (edit) Steven J. Sutcliffe, Ashgate, USA.
E. Geertz, A. W. 2004, Religion and Community in Indigenous Contexts in Religion: Empirical Studies (edit) Steven J. Sutcliffe, Ashgate, USA.

4. Week 8: Small Group Discussions and projects

5. Week 9-11: Emerging models of inter-religious relationships:
A case study of the ‘Circle’ and FOMWAG models:

Readings
A. Kanyoro M. R. A., 2006, Beads and Strands, Treading more Beads in the Story of the Circle in, African women Religion and Health Essays in Honor of Mercy Amba Ewudziwa Oduyoye (eds) Isabel A. Phiri and Sarojini Nadar. Orbis Books Maryknoll

Week 12-13: Conclusions and Evaluations

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