University of Notre Dame

Faith, Freedom, and Fanaticism: Religion and Politics

Course Number: POLS 13181-5
Instructor: Rev. Robert Dowd, C.S.C.

The impact of religion on social and political change and the impact of social and political change on the influence of religion are immensely important topics. While many have claimed that religious faith communities essentially impede “human progress”, others have argued that “human progress” is impossible to explain without reference to such faith communities. In this seminar we will take a critical look at religious systems, particularly Christianity and Islam, and examine two major questions: (1) What effects, if any, do religious beliefs and institutions have on human development as well as the prospects for and the quality of democracy? (2) What effects, if any, do human development and democratization have on the relevance of religious beliefs and the influence of religious institutions?