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Martha G. Newman, Chair BUR 529, Mailcode A3700, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-232-7737

Summer 2003

R S f361 • Religion, Violence, and Nonviolence (Area IV)

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
87675 MTWThF
11:30 AM-1:00 PM
UTC 3.110

Course Description

Course number may be repeated for credit when the topics vary. "Religion, Violence and Nonviolence" will provide an overview of a broad range of topics regarding the relationship between the world's religious traditions and problems of war and peace, with an emphasis on their implications for contemporary conflicts. The central theme is that all of the major faith traditions contain two competing motifs regarding the use of force and violence--the warrior and the pacifist--so that religious beliefs and institutions are behind both the legitimation of and opposition to warfare. In the late twentieth century, as war and violence become increasingly deadly, a third alternative has been elaborated, that is, nonviolent struggle, or what Mahatma Gandhi calls Satyagraha, (Truth Force or Soul Force). Nonviolent direct action is a form of struggle that takes elements of both traditional motifs and synthesizes them; from this perspective, one has a duty like the warrior to fight unjust systems, evil actions, etc. Like the pacifist, however, the Satyagrahi avoids harming his or her opponent in the struggle. Indeed, the goal of the conflict is not to destroy--or even prevail over--an enemy, but to change behavior and social systems nonviolently. In this course we will explore elements of the traditional motifs, the nonviolent alternative, experiments with nonviolence, and examine what changes might have to be made to shift from violence toward nonviolence as a means of conflict in the next millennium.

Grading Policy

  • 2 exams or a research paper 70% each
  • Journal 15%
  • In-class presentation 10%


A packet of readings


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