Department Chairperson: Sonia Zylberberg
Local: 1574 Office: 5D.11
Why study about the world's religious traditions? There are several good reasons for CEGEP students to take religion courses. We live in a shrinking world, one in which we have ever-increasing contact with other peoples and their cultures, through the media and through travel, whether for pleasure or for business. What is central to most cultures of the world are their religious beliefs and practices.Students who have studied world religions will be more at home in the global society.
Why study about the world’s religious traditions?
There are several good reasons for CEGEP students to take religion courses.
We live in a shrinking world, one in which we have ever-increasing contact with other peoples and their cultures, through the media and through travel, whether for pleasure or for business. What is central to most cultures of the world are their religious beliefs and practices. Students who have studied world religions will be more at home in the global society.
The major urban centres of Canada are becoming increasingly multi-religious.1 Young persons in Canada today can look forward to living in a religiously diverse neighbourhood, where their children will be attending religiously diverse schools. Similarly young people can expect to be working side-by-side with peers from a variety of religious traditions. By taking courses in religion, students will learn about, understand and appreciate the religious beliefs, values, and ceremonies of their current and future neighbours and colleagues.
By studying religion, a much better appreciation is also gained of current political situations, historical events, the classics of literature, theatre, and the visual arts. Religion courses complement courses in history, political science, sociology, anthropology, human geography, art history, literature, philosophy and many other disciplines.
Religion courses also help students to gain a better understanding of what many individuals (e.g., family members and friends) consider to be an important dimension of their lives. The 1994 Ontario Ministry of Education report on education about religion made this point in the following words:
Education about religion can...enhance students' awareness of the range of ways in which people acquire knowledge and beliefs about the world---that is, through inner feelings, intuitive insights, reason, and experience.
History shows that religion is one of the cornerstones of human identity. Education about religion can, therefore, help students to understand themselves and others better, by giving them opportunities to consider human spirituality.
Religion is also an important means by which human beings seek to understand some of the fundamental questions of human existence---such as questions about the meaning of being human, the importance of the individual, the meaning and purpose of life, the role of spirituality in human life, and the individual's relationship to the world.
1. Up until the 17th century the major religious traditions of Canada were aboriginal. With the arrival of immigrants from Europe, during the 17th to the 20th centuries, a number of expressions of Christianity and Judaism were established in Canada. Throughout the second half of the 20th century immigration from Europe dropped off and immigration from Asia, North Africa and the Middle East dramatically increased, which means that the various forms of Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism have been growing in numbers. In Montreal, at the time of the 2001 census, 7.69% of the inhabitants were adherents of religions other than Christianity. The percentage of adherents to a religion other than Christianity in Vancouver was 14%, and in Toronto 17.2%.