Law & Religion in Legal, Social, and Political Perspective

Quick Info
(3160.03)  Seminar
Professor B. Berger
3 credit(s)  3 hour(s);
Discussion, Student Participation and Reflection, Short Lectures. Online Modules
Upper Year Research & Writing Requirement

Students enrolled in this seminar will engage in a close and critical examination of the complex historical and contemporary interactions between law and religion, two social forces whose relationship has shaped – and continues to shape – our modern world.  This seminar will call upon students to use the study of the interaction of law and religion as a vehicle for gaining (a) a keener appreciation of the challenges of deep cultural diversity, (b) a deeper and more complex sense of the politics of “secularism” in modern secular states, and (c) a richer understanding of the nature of law.  Students will examine certain influential theories in the study of religion and learn about the place of religion in the historical foundations of the common law.  They will trace issues of religious difference through Canadian constitutional history, consider questions of law and religion in international and comparative perspective, and examine the structure and limits of constitutional rights through the study of doctrines of religious freedom.  Seminar readings and discussions will canvass issues such as: the nature of “secularism(s)”; justifications for the constitutional protection of religion; religion, gender, and sexual equality; religion and education; religion and legal pluralism; religion and public reason; and law, religion, and morality.  The seminar will be overtly interdisciplinary, putting questions of history, philosophy, and religious studies alongside legal theory and analysis.

Please note that this seminar has been selected to form part an ongoing eLearning Pilot by the Law School. As a result, class meetings will take place via Zoom. The online delivery of the seminar will enable student engagement with experts in the field from around the world, with students in related courses at other universities, with one another in smaller group tutorials, and/or with online modules designed to enrich learning and class discussion.