American Academy of Religion Releases Guidelines for College Students

A variety of religious symbols found in the world. Image by Gerd Altmann/Creative Commons

The American Academy of Religion has published a broad set of guidelines outlining what every undergraduate student should know about religion.

The three-year effort by members of the AAR, the century-old association of scholars, is an attempt to provide a baseline for religious literacy in hopes of challenging undergraduates at two- and four-year colleges to better understand belief systems and worldviews different from their own.

The AAR identified the rise of anti-Semitism and Islamophobia, as well as the increasing number of people with no formal religious affiliation, as reasons for undertaking the project.

It follows on a similar project in 2010, in which the AAR provided guidelines for grades K-12.

“As the learned society that established the study of religion as a field we felt our obligation and responsibility to provide some grounding in these guidelines,” said Alice Hunt, AAR’s executive director.

But since the AAR can’t tell colleges and universities how to teach about religion, its committee and advisory board settled on broad guidelines.

For example, the guidelines recommend that students know how to find accurate and credible information about diverse religious traditions and that college graduates be able to recognize the internal diversity within religious traditions.

It also recommends that students learn to distinguish between prescriptive statements about religion — a faith’s dogma or theology — and statements that are descriptive or analytical.

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Source: Religion News Service