Glazier awarded grant to create international religious freedom course

Dr. Rebecca Glazier

A University of Arkansas at Little Rock professor and international studies scholar has received a grant from Notre Dame’s Global Religion Research Initiative to develop a new international religious freedom course that will be offered at UA Little Rock for the first time in spring 2020.

Dr. Rebecca Glazier, associate professor of political science, said the desire to create the new course came from her research with the Little Rock Congregations Study, a research project she began in 2012 to study the effects of religious organizations on community engagement in Little Rock. 

“This course also connects to my community-based research project, because students will go into the community to attend and learn about faith communities in Little Rock,” Glazier said. “Additionally, community members and religious leaders will attend our class to talk about their experiences with religious freedom in the United States and in other countries. The students will all write stories about the places they visit, which will be available for the public on the Little Rock Congregations Study website.” 

This course examines the topic of religious freedom from a global perspective, evaluating how religious freedom is understood across cultures and religious traditions. Students in the course will study contemporary controversies surrounding religious freedom, consider the role of religious freedom as one among other human rights, the role of religious freedom in diplomacy, and the relationship of religious freedom to violence and terrorism.

“We will discuss religious freedom from a global perspective and then connect it to our local communities,” Glazier said. “We will discuss what religious freedom is like for women who wear veils in France, Christians who face hardships in China, and the conflict between Hindus and Muslims in India. The students will attend religious services in different denominations and religions around the city. This will give them a chance to understand religion from a global perspective, and then see how these religions are practiced in the local area.” 

The course is funded by a $4,000 grant from the Global Religion Research Initiative, which is dedicated to supporting the study of religion in global perspective in order to address two weaknesses in contemporary scholarship, namely the neglect of religion as a subject of study in the social sciences and relative neglect of religions outside of the North Atlantic region. The initiative is funded by the Templeton Religion Trust of Nassau, Bahamas, and will fund more than 150 research proposals by distributing $3.1 million to scholars of global religion.

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