A Politics of Compassion for the 21st Century Winter 2022

Cross-listed REL 15 / PSCI 15
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Class Details

Purpose: Here is a simple question: do you believe the American political system is working well today and will adequately address the country’s needs in the 21st century? If not, what might a different model, a different attitude about politics and “who gets what in society,” might look like. This course, offered by a political science professor who is also an ordained Zen Buddhist priest, explores a radical alternative based on the simple idea that if we are to survive and thrive as a global community in 100 years from now, we must move from a philosophy of “me” to one of “we.” Based on the professor’s 30 years of college-level political science teaching and over 40 years of a Zen Buddhist meditation practice, the course will explore a “Politics of Compassion,” drawing from the teachings of the Buddha through the “Engaged Buddhists,” such as the Dalai Lama, today. In addition to the historical and philosophical treatment of politics from a Buddhist point of view, we will practice Zen meditation on a daily basis. Regardless of one’s particular religious, or non-religious, background, the course will provide a supportive opportunity to explore one’s moral and political beliefs and at the end of the day ask oneself the proverbial question: what is my life really about? Is it about my ego in the form of making money and/or becoming famous, or is it about how to use my privileges and education to help alleviate suffering in the world? We will explore the issues of the climate crisis, poverty, race, sexism, violence, criminal justice, etc. in the process of reflecting on these questions.
The Class: Format: lecture
Limit: 30
Grading: pass/fail only
Requirements/Evaluation: 10-page paper; all students will do a class presentation of their 10-page research paper
Prerequisites: none
Enrollment Preferences: seniority: seniors, juniors, etc.
Unit Notes: Tom Redden '77 is a political scientist and ordained Zen Buddhist priest, who is writing a book on 'Buddhist politics." He holds a doctorate in political science and masters in education as well as 'Third World' Development Studies from the University of Geneva, Switzerland. He has lived and travelled all over the world, continues a 40-plus year daily meditation practice, and was voted Faculty of the Year five times by students at Southern Vermont College where he taught.
Materials/Lab Fee: none
Notes: This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
REL 15 PSCI 15

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