About this Course
Effective religious leaders in a pluralistic democracy must have the knowledge and skills to accurately represent their religious tradition and the religions of their neighbors to the media as well as through the use of new media. For better or for worse, the media shapes the public’s understanding of religion in 21st-century America. The course begins with an exploration of the complex interaction between religion and media in the history of the United States, with special attention to the civic and legal frameworks provided by the guarantees of free speech, freedom of the press and religious freedom under the First Amendment. Participants examine the many ways in which the media currently reports religion news, interprets the role of religion in public life and portrays the beliefs and practices of religious individuals and groups. Students also investigate how religious communities use media technology to proclaim their beliefs (and the beliefs of others) to both their adherents and the broader public. Through case studies, participants investigate issues and controversies involving media and religion in the public sector. Participants explore best practices for creating a religiously literate society by examining how religious communities educate the public about their own religion and the beliefs and practices of other coreligionists. Special attention will be given to best practices for using media to combat negative stereotyping, stigmatization and discrimination.
(plus travel & lodging during the on-site seminars in Washington D.C.)