Religion, Culture and Society: Getting Beyond the Cliches

Course Overview

Religion, Culture and Society: Getting Beyond the Cliches
Self-Directed Course
Thanks to a grant from the Ford Foundation, this course is available free of charge to registered users at NewsU.

About Self-Directed Courses

In a self-directed course, you can start and stop whenever you like, progressing entirely at your own pace and going back as many times as you want to review the material.

Religion and religious conflict touch almost every dimension of human existence — and every story you tell. No matter what you cover, you risk overlooking key elements of the story when you ignore how religious movements have shaped the social landscape.

In this course, you'll see how religion touches stories about politics, ethics, science, sexuality and more. You'll explore "guiding questions" that will help you dig deeper into a story, and you'll get resources to get specific answers to your questions about religions and religious movements.

You'll learn that what happens outside a church, mosque or temple will give your coverage about the intersection of faith and daily life deeper context, nuance and sensitivity.

What Will I Learn:

After completing this course, you'll be able to:

  • Explain why science, sexuality, politics, media and other areas often become flash-points for religious traditions
  • Identify challenges involved in reporting on religion and hot-button topics
  • Find the resources that are available to help shape in-depth reporting on religion and current social issues
  • Identify common pitfalls in reporting on religion and religious movements
Who should take this course:

Reporters, producers, editors, independent journalists and others who want to tell stories about the intersection of faith and culture with greater context, awareness, thoughtfulness and critical thinking.

Course Instructors:

Diane Winston

Diane Winston holds the Knight Chair in Media and Religion at the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at the University of Southern California. A national authority on religion and the media as both a journalist and a scholar, her expertise includes religion, politics and the news media as well as religion and the entertainment media.

Nick Street

Nick Street studied religious ethics at Oberlin College and the Candler School of Theology at Emory University and received master's in print journalism from the University of Southern California. He has worked as a contributing editor at and Religion Dispatches. His writing on religion, science, sexuality and culture has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, LA Weekly, the Jewish Journal, Search and the Revealer. He is a resident priest at the Hazy Moon Zen Center in Los Angeles.