Spring 2019


Spiritual Renaissances: Creative Episodes in the Drama of History

What brings about creative episodes in humanity’s journey across the ages? Throughout history the world has seen remarkable periods of extensive learning and cultural refinement inspired by religious renewal and spirituality. Each religious civilization can be viewed in seasonal terms—going through a spiritual spring, summer, autumn and winter.

We will take an eagle-eyed look at several spiritual summers, renaissances and golden ages: Israel’s United Monarchy, classical Persia, Athens and Alexandria, Gupta India, Tang China, Christian Byzantium and Islamic Persia. We’ll go on to share futuristic glimpses of a possible global civilization. This stimulating survey will cast light on humanity’s continued quest for a constructive breakthrough today.

A $62 discount will be applied automatically for adults 55+.

Currently not available for registration.

What will I learn?

Week 1: The Rise, Fall and Renewal of Civilizations

Religious civilizations in ‘seasonal’ termsspiritual spring, summer, autumn and winter. Spiritual Summers as Golden Ages.

Week 2: Israel’s United Monarchy and Classical Persia

David and Solomon in Israel. Cyrus and Darius in Zoroastrian Persia.

Week 3: Hellenic Centers of Learning—Athens and Alexandria

Periclean Athens and its cultural legacy. Northern Egypt’s metropolis of learning.

Week 4: Eastern Golden Ages—Gupta India and Tang China

Spiritually motivated rulers and patrons of arts and sciences in South and East Asia.

Week 5: Early Christianity and Islam—Constantinople and Baghdad

Justinian’s Byzantium. Al-Mamun’s House of Wisdom.  

Week 6: Prospects for a Dynamic Global Civilization

Considering possible dimensions of global governance, world culture and learning.

How will I learn?

  • Lectures
  • Discussion (may vary from class to class)
  • Papers (applicable only to certificate students)

How will I be evaluated?

For certificate students only:

Your instructor will evaluate you based on an essay, which you will complete at the end of the course. You will receive a grade of “satisfactory” or “unsatisfactory.”

Textbooks and learning materials

Reading material (if applicable) will be available in class. Some course materials may be available online.

If you're 55+, you may take this course as part of

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