Welcome to Religious Literacy + Education

By Anna Mudd

Anna Mudd is the program coordinator for the Religious Literacy Project. 

Welcome! This blog is a space to showcase teaching materials, resources, and reflections from educators and staff engaged in work on religious literacy and education at Harvard Divinity School. 

Group of people standing in Harvard yard in summer
Participants in the 2018 Religious Literacy Summer Institute for Educators gather across from Widener Library to discuss material culture and religion on Harvard’s campus. Photo by Kristofer Rhude.

The Religious Literacy Project provides resources, training, and support for educators in all disciplines to teach curriculum with greater religious literacy. What do we mean by this? We define religious literacy as the ability to identify and analyze intersections of religion and social, political, and cultural life through multiple perspectives. Rather than a fixed set of content and facts about religion, this approach emphasizes habits of mind and investigative strategies that students and teachers can use to explore those intersections in particular times and places. Religious literacy for us is a way of thinking about religion that lets us explore and make sense of the immensely complicated and powerful roles religions play in society. You can learn more about our approach here.  

This work at Harvard Divinity school stretches back decades and includes the prior Program in Religion and Secondary Education, and the Certificate in Religious Studies and Education in partnership with Harvard Extension School. Most recently, over the past three years the Religious Literacy and Education Initiative has worked with secondary school and community college educators in over 20 states to support the development of diverse and innovative teaching materials in the field of religious literacy. This blog is a space to showcase this powerful, teacher-driven work, and to share process-driven reflections and resources from within our program

Two women looking at a computer screen and talking
RLP program coordinator Anna Mudd workshops a lesson plan with Anushi Seneviratne, a participant in the 2019 Religious Literacy Summer Institute for Educators.

Drawing from our religious literacy method, content here will be tagged with an ongoing list of core categories. Some of these include: 

  • Distinctions between devotional and non-devotional teaching about religion.  
  • Internal diversity, change over time, and cultural embeddedness of religion.  
  • Power, Peace, and Conflict.  
  • Deep Story and Narrative.  
  • Religious tradition and regional context.  
  • Content will also be searchable by grade level and discipline.  

While these materials were developed over several years, we believe much of it speaks to the powerful questions and invitations issued by the unfolding events of the summer and fall of 2020, during which this blog is launching. For us, religious literacy has never been just about religion. It is a way into greater consciousness about the worldviews, structures, and narratives that shape how we and others understand the world, and how it may be re-imagined. We look forward to sharing this work with you.