“Understanding Secularism” to be Focus of New Trinity College Website
Site will facilitate the Dissemination of Course Materials and Research
HARTFORD, CT, May 13, 2011 – The Institute for the Study of Secularism in Society and Culture (ISSSC) at Trinity College today launched a new Website, Understanding Secularism (www.understandingsecularism.org). Its aim is to provide a better understanding of the roles and forms of secularism around the world by disseminating material to educators, researchers, students, and interested members of the public.
The new website is designed to be a teaching and learning resource. It will offer diverse media and materials, including academic course syllabi, articles, bibliographies, research reports, and essays by ISSSC-affiliated scholars and others. Audio-visual and photographic material will help enliven and elucidate the study of secularism.
Course outlines and syllabi are varied, ranging from “Liberty of Conscience and the Creation of Secular Society” to “The Dao of Secularism: Political Transformation and Secular Values in 20th Century Asia.” The articles and reports are equally diverse, and cover such topics as “High School Students’ Opinions about Science Education,” “Evolution in Nature and Society,” and “Anxiety in the Age of Reason.”
Algeria, Australia, Canada, Denmark, Egypt, France, Great Britain, Greece, India, Iran, Israel, Italy, Lebanon, Spain, Turkey and the United States are among the countries that have material devoted to them.
“Understanding Secularism is all about providing objective information,” said ISSSC Director Barry A. Kosmin. “Our aim is understanding, critical analysis, and education – not advocacy.”
Continuing, Kosmin said, “The topic of secularism spans many areas of study and so requires an interdisciplinary approach. Because of this, the site will take a cross-cultural approach that offers a wide range of scholarly and ideological perspectives. The idea is to make the website a vital forum for the exchange of knowledge and ideas among educators, researchers, journalists, policy makers, and concerned citizens.”
Around the world, secularism is in the news. Whether it is the decline of organized religion in Europe, cultural battles over reproduction and the family in Latin America, or political change in the Middle East, secularism plays a central role in the discussion. It is a perennial issue in India, where the term is used to refer to ideological tolerance and religion-state separation.
In the United States, the percentage of secular American adults (as indicated by those who reported no religious identification) almost doubled from 8 percent in 1990 to 15 percent in 2008, or from 14 to 34 million people.
Yet, despite the importance of secularism in contemporary discourse and society, there has been no single place to go for information about it. Understanding Secularism will be that place.
The ISSSC, which has a global research agenda and strong international ties, was established in 2005 to advance understanding of the roles played by secular values and institutions in contemporary societies. Nonpartisan and multidisciplinary, the ISSSC conducts research, helps develop course curricula, and serves as an educational forum through lectures, seminars, and conferences.
Via the Nonrelgion and Secularity Research Network.