Dartmouth College: Winter 2023 Courses

Religions of Southeast Asia

REL 2.01/ASCL 51.05 (12): 12:50-1:55pm MWF

Introductory Level

This course surveys intersections between religion and culture in Southeast Asian contexts. The first unit analyzes the terms “Religion” and “Southeast Asia.” We consider the function of these concepts in global politics and scholarship. The second unit examines case studies from seven Southeast Asian countries to explore how religions shape community identities and life experiences. Our course materials lead us to investigate how Spirit Religions, Buddhism, Daoism, Christianity, and Islam influence one another as well as understandings of health, death, power, nature, sexuality, and time.

Compassion: Religion, Giving, & Care

REL 59.01 (3A): 3:30-5:20pm MW

Intermediate Level

What inspires care for others? Is it possible to give, expecting nothing in return? This intermediate-level course explores how people approach care across diverse global contexts. We particularly examine how religions influence virtues of compassion, generosity, and altruism. In defining these virtues, we also investigate how religions inform cultural understandings of suffering, happiness, power, responsibility, self and other. Our materials include philosophical and anthropological texts intersecting Islam, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, Hinduism, and indigenous traditions.

Dartmouth College: Spring 2023 Courses

Sisters, Sages, Seekers: Women & Religion

REL 1.11 (12): 12:50-1:55pm MWF

Introductory Level

What might a Buddhist nun, a Jewish schoolgirl, and an Olympic swimmer have in common? This course explores how women around the world pursue self-transformation through religious and spiritual practices. Course materials include followers of Buddhist, Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, and Native American religious traditions alongside those who might be called “spiritual but not religious.” We will consider how and why people use gendered self-disciplining practices – from meditation to athletics – while seeking life purpose and belonging.

Buddhism, Gender & Sexuality in Southeast Asia

REL 41.07/ASCL 51.06 (3A): 3:30-5:20pm MW

Intermediate Level

This course explores how Buddhist concepts of embodiment affect daily life and society in Southeast Asian contexts. We will also consider how cultural understandings of gender and sexuality influence local religious practices in the Buddhist-majority countries of Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Myanmar. Our materials will lead us to analyze how religion, sexuality, and gender intersect with one another, as well as how these intersections impact broader understandings of authority, beauty, romance, and death.

Teaching Philosophy

My mission as an instructor is to help students develop their communication skills and confidence in articulating new ideas. I use theories from Zaretta Hammond’s culturally responsive pedagogy to engage students across unique life experiences and learning styles. One way I design courses to encourage both independent and collaborative learning is by using multi-sensory activities in class. I also blend course readings, films, lectures, and assignments with guided small-group conversations to encourage students to make personal connections with our courses. The effectiveness of these assignments is reflected in student feedback from my teaching evaluations. As one student from my Buddhism course concluded: “The prof. is passionate, knowledgeable, inclusive, and thought provoking. Amazing, amazing, amazing professor.” Another student in my “Women and Religion” course similarly noted, “Sara is a world-class teacher. She is committed to teaching in a way that keeps track of the personal humanity of all people.” Both of these comments reflect my dedication to connecting with diverse students as individual learners. I strive to foster respect for the communities and ideas we study through our course materials by affirming the significance of my students’ own life experiences and perspectives. This approach also helps students make meaningful connections between course topics and their personal lives. When asked what aspects of my Buddhism course were most valuable, one student wrote, “Applying what we were learning and how it actually means something in your life and others.” Through this process, I equally aspire to help students define and meet their own highest standards for education. Students identified this commitment with feedback such as, “Sara was always ready to make us think outside the box” and “This course tested my critical thinking unlike any other.”

If you are a prospective student exploring this website, please feel free to contact me with any questions. If you are a fellow teacher or professor interested in learning more about culturally responsive pedagogy, I refer you to Zaretta Hammond’s excellent work here.