Master's Program in Religion, Politics and Democracy

Master's Program in Religion, Politics and Democracy

The new two-year master’s program in Religion, Politics and Democracy, within the Department of Eastern Christian Studies, aims at educating future professionals and scholars in the understanding of the relationship between religious ideas and institutions and the public sphere.

This program explores the interaction and mutual influences between theological ideas, religious beliefs and practices, and modern secular society and the contemporary globalization processes. Approaching these phenomena from an Eastern Christian perspective, the courses in this program will help students learn about how theology and Church practice relate to the ever changing social and political environments, how ideology (both within the Church and in society) structures our perception of the social sphere, and how one can engage with social and political contexts and democratic processes in a constructive and creative way.

The program equips students with theoretical knowledge, critical analysis and writing skills necessary for future work as professionals (e.g. educators, ministers, public servants, analysts, NGO personnel and activists) or for research (at Ph.D. level).

Length: 2 years, 120 ECTS credits

Study pace: Full-time

Teaching hours: Daytime

Type of instruction: Distance learning

Language of instruction: English

Location: Campus Bromma

Level: University

Organizer: Stockholm School of Theology (University College Stockholm)

 

Courses:

Theory and Method in Eastern Christian Studies

This course prepares students for academic work in the field of Eastern Christian Studies. The course aims at developing the ability to critically read and review primary and secondary sources, and develop an independent and critical approach to academic work. In addition to learning about diverse approaches to the field, students will also learn about the place of Eastern Christian Studies within the broader field of the Humanities.

Orthodox Christianity: Past and Present

Over the past two millennia, the Orthodox Church and Orthodox faith have been exposed to a variety of cultural, social, political, and philosophical influences. This has shaped the way in which theological ideas have been expressed in each given context and how the institution of the church has evolved and functioned in concrete social environments. The course explores the major stages in the development of the Orthodox Church and Orthodox theology in view of these broader influences.

Political Theologies in Orthodox Christianity

The relationships between the church and the state, between the realm of politics and the realm of faith, have been reflected upon from the earliest times of Christianity. This gave rise to a variety of “political theologies,” i.e. theological reflections upon the meaning of the socio-political sphere and the ways in which Christian faith can be related to/reconciled with the sphere of politics. Students will learn about both traditional and contemporary Orthodox theological approaches to the socio-political sphere, and the ways in which they can be related to similar discourses developed in the West.

Religion and Politics: From Pax Romana to Pax Christiana

The course gives students an opportunity to explore the complex relationship between political ideologies and religious teachings and practices from the ancient Roman times until the Renaissance. The focus is on the concept of “empire” and “peace” (pax) and how universalist aspirations of states or other political agents are reflected in the dominant ideological discourses and religious narratives (which produced the ideas of “pax deorum” and “pax Romana”). Students will learn about the connection between the ancient Roman state and ancient roman religion and how this context influenced the later history of (Christian) political ideas, as well as church – state relations in the post-classical Roman world.

Religion and Politics: From Pax Christiana to Pax Americana

The course gives students an opportunity to explore the complex relationship between political ideologies and religious teachings and practices from the Renaissance until the present day. The focus in this course is on the development of imperial ideas over the course of modernity, in connection to religious Christian narratives. The concept of universal peace and the idea of a universal global capital, which safeguards the true belief, informed modern empires in a very profound way, their ideologies and concrete policies. The latest expression of this universalist tendency one finds in the concept of pax Americana, which has been used to characterize the global order (peace) which came as a result of the dominance of one super-power in the late twentieth/early twenty-first century.

(Post) Secularization in Modern Political Philosophy

The course explores philosophical ideas about the place and role of religion in the context of western modernity. The central topic which the course focuses on is the concept of “secularization,” its origins, meaning, development and the critical assessment of “secularization” in the “post-secularization” discourses. Reading both primary sources and scholarly texts, students will acquire necessary knowledge and skills for analyzing the relationship between modern society and modern (nation) State and church/religion.

Democracy and Liberalism: Contemporary Challenges

Democratic institutions and procedures, as well as the whole concept of “democracy,” its viability and legitimacy, have been questioned in recent public/political as well as in scholarly discourses. The concept of “liberalism” shares the same fate; it has been used both as a positive label and as a derogatory term. The course explores both of these concepts and the entire sets of social institutions created based on democratic and liberal ideas. At the same time, the course looks into the complexities of today’s societies, types of government and the contemporary challenges that democratic systems and ideas face both internally and externally, as a result of globalization processes.

Theology and a Will for Change

The desire to study theology is often linked to a desire to change things in the world. This course discusses and analyzes questions concerning the relationship between theology and politics, the possible contribution of theology to the sustainability of life, and the dynamics of different theological views concerning the political-theoretical function of theology. Political and ecological perspectives in contemporary theology are analyzed using Hannah Arendt's political theory. The course takes up the social, ethical, and political consequences as three different perspectives in theology. The theological perspectives are in turn discussed in relation to secular theories of economics and ecology.

Global Orthodoxy after 1989

This course explores the current issues in global Orthodoxy against the broader background of the post-1989 social and political processes. The fall of the Berlin Wall and the subsequent dissolution of the Soviet Union changed the global map and the political dynamics in a profound way. We have witnessed the growth of the Orthodox population in many areas of Western Europe and North America, which have changed the global map of Orthodox Christianity. The major global shifts, social and political changes that came as a result of the global economic integrations, the role of new technologies and new tensions and conflicts, have influenced many of the territories in which Orthodox Christianity has been the dominant and traditional faith. This has presented the church as well as theology with new challenges and new topics for discussion, such as the environmental crisis, feminist movements/feminist theology, non-traditional gender roles and other non-traditional identities.

Religion, Art and Propaganda

What is the power of images? How can icons and idols serve religious and political agendas? How can the “aesthetic” also be political?

These are some of the questions that this course addresses. It explores the intersection of visual culture with religion, ideology and political power. Students will learn about both aesthetic and conceptual/narrative dimensions of artworks (e.g. paintings, sculpture, prints…) and how these can perform an ideological and/or propaganda purpose in religious and political contexts. Examples from history as well as modern/contemporary visual culture will be discussed. In addition to more traditional interpretations of images, the course brings into discussion contemporary scholarly approaches to the use of visual/propagandistic means in religious and secular-religious contexts. 

Thesis Preparation

This course prepares students for their M.A. thesis. Through seminar discussions and individual research, students will define the topic and the scope of their future M.A. thesis. The course helps students to formulate a thesis statement and choose adequate methodological approach in order to develop a solid thesis structure. During the course, students will have the opportunity to present their ideas, report on the progress and discuss with other students, methodological issues as well as any obstacles they may experience during the preliminary work on designing their thesis.

M.A. Thesis

In order to complete the M.A. program students are required to write an M.A. thesis. Students are expected to demonstrate a high level of critical skills, research and writing competencies, and a detailed knowledge of the subject of their research.

Students are expected to conduct research and develop their thesis in regular consultations with their thesis advisor. Depending on the topic and the methods used, the work on the thesis may also include practical work, study trips, work in archives, and other relevant activities.

The course will be completed by an oral defense of the thesis.

 

You can find out more about the requirements here.

For all questions related to the program, please contact Professor Davor Džalto, davor.dzalto@ehs.se.

Contacts for questions related to the application process can be found here.

Application period is open until June 15 (midnight CET). 
During this period please apply here: https://www.universityadmissions.se.

 

Master's Degree in Religion, Politics, and Democracy