Religions on the Silk Road

Global Education Course in Uzbekistan
May 22 – June 12, 2014
CH/TH-621:  “Religions on the Silk Road: From Antiquity to the Present”
Professor: Dr. Todd Johnson
Course Fee: $2,999

Explore the mystique of the ancient Silk Road through a lesser-known republic of Central Asia. This course explores the history of religions on the Silk Road from antiquity to the present examining the impact of trade, translation, and interaction of world religions from Venice, Italy to Chang’an, China. For many centuries this historic trade route made it possible for travelers to discover the arts, crafts, spices and worldviews of those very different from themselves. Some have suggested these camel caravans were examples of pre-modern patterns of globalization. Along the journey, one comes in personal contact with the majority of major world religions.

This unique course is being offered by Dr. Todd Johnson, a leading authority on global Christianity and world religions. Dr. Johnson’s exhaustive research recently culminated in the widely-acclaimed  Atlas of Global Christianity. His ongoing research is regularly cited in such major media outlets as the Wall Street Journal, New York Times and Washington Post. This intensive course offers a rare opportunity to benefit from lectures and informal conversations with Dr. Johnson around steaming mugs of black tea and Uzbek flatbread.

The inclusive dates for the course are May 22-June 14, 2014. Students on any of the four GCTS campuses are welcome to apply.

The course will be held in two major locations on the ancient Silk Road. The first few days will be based in Tashkent, Uzbekistan near several of the most important trade centers in world history, Bukhara (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), Samarkand and Khiva, before returning to Tashkent. Final debriefing sessions will be held in Istanbul, Turkey, while visiting ancient Silk Road sites like the Hagia Sophia.

Dr. Johnson is uniquely suited to offer a contextual learning course in global education. As a connoisseur of material culture and the arts, this course will not only explore such major world religions as Buddhism, Judaism, Islam, Manichaeism, Sikhism, Zoroastrism, Hinduism, Christianity and Chinese traditional religions; but also the music, cuisine, visual arts, and film of the various cultures visited. Students will ride camels, learn how to cook traditional Silk Road dishes, eat a traditional meal in a yurt, attend an Uzbek wedding and learn how to dance Uzbek style!

Gordon-Conwell students interested in the course should submit their applications before the end of Spring Semester 2013. Links to all required forms appear below.

The course is also open to non-Gordon-Conwell students interested in taking the course for credit or as an audit. This includes GCTS friends and alumni, and students from other seminaries, including students from all 10-member seminaries of the Boston Theological Institute (BTI). Links to alumni and friends application and reference forms are found below.