Going Global

A new world religions course will be offered starting spring 2018 with the goal of widening students’ worldviews and broadening their perspectives


As senior Anna Smith sits in her Christian Life Choices class, her head slips into her hands as she starts to doze off. She has been taking religion classes since she was in elementary school, and this one is nothing new for her.

Many seniors share Smith’s experience, and by the time second semester rolls around, most of them are experts in the subject of Christianity and tend to zone out during their religion class.

For this reason, the Religion Department will be implementing a world religions class for seniors called Ecumenical and Interreligious Issues. The class will be offered along with the previous choices of Christian Life Choices and Honors Philosophy.

“A world religions class will add more variety to the curriculum and to the school because I know that there are many students who are not Catholic,” Smith said.

This course was chosen as an option to try and provide an interesting and engaging option for seniors in their second semester religion class. According to Religion Department Chair Joseph Gallen, “We really wanted to provide a choice that people might like to take.”  

The Religion Department sent out a survey on Oct. 6, 2016, to the junior class about classes they would be interested in adding to the curriculum, and students showed the most interest in taking this class.

“I would be interested in a world religions class because students need to be educated on world religions and cultures that we would otherwise not know of,” junior Anna Kotula said.

This is the goal the Religion Department is striving for and according to Gallen, “We hope the subject matter is practical as well as interesting.”

The course is set to touch on major religions such as, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and Buddhism, but the class will also try to fit in information about the more unique religions such as the sects of Islam and the Amish.

“[Religion teacher Barry] Zavislan and I are in the process of looking for a book that encompasses and gives justice to all of the different religions,” Gallen said.

The class will be a regular, non-honors class , and, as of now, the class is set to be taught by Zavislan. The current plan is to only offer one section of the class, but the Religion Department is willing to make changes to accommodate for additional sections if there is a greater demand.

“I have been begging for this to be in the curriculum since arriving here, and I am looking forward to seeing what students bring to the class in terms of prior knowledge and preconceived notions,” Zavislan said.

Smith is disappointed that she never had the opportunity to take the course but feels that it will only add to students’ knowledge and appreciation of different cultures.
“We can get a better understanding of the world from the class, and I think it is perfect for seniors since we will be going to college and into the workplace where we will encounter people with many different faiths,” Smith said.

Elizabeth Harmison is a News Editor for The Patriot and jcpatriot.com.