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Video

Interview Date

2-16-1999

Abstract

What is your biggest concern regarding the study of religion?

Dr. Ninian Smart discusses his concern about the lack of scholarship – learning about religion. He thinks that the lack of knowledge about religion is problematic in today’s world. People commonly adopt a narrow focus and so distort their understanding of how religion works – they have naïve views of religion. Dr. Smart notes that over the last thirty years the study of religion has evolved, but he observes that a new problem has emerged: people are being trapped by the notion that theirs is the only truth and so they often miss the big picture.

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Playing Time: 3:51

About the Interviewee:

Dr. Ninian Smart was educated at Glasgow University and at Queen’s College, Oxford. He held teaching appointments at Yale University, London University, Banaras Hindu University and Birmingham University. He became the founding Professor of Religious Studies at Lancaster University in 1967 and in 1976 he came to the University of California at Santa Barbara as the first J.F. Rowny Professor in the Comparative Study of Religions and spent part of each year at that institution and at Lancaster University until his retirement from Lancaster in 1982.

A prolific author/lecturer, his book The World’s Religions (1989) reached a considerable popular readership. He pioneered the defense of religious studies as a secular discipline which helped the formation of departments in many public universities, especially in the United States. During his life-time of scholarship, he held the presidencies of major learned societies in the study of religions, notably the American Academy of Religion, the largest professional society for Religious Studies in the Americas. Dr. Smart died in his native England in 2001.

About the Interviewer:

Dr. Alfred Benney is a professor of Religious Studies at Fairfield University. He has a Ph.D in Theology from the Hartford Seminary Foundation and teaches courses in Non-Traditional American Religions and Christian Religious Thought. His research interests include "how people learn"; "the appropriate use of technology in teaching/learning" and "myth as explanatory narrative". He has published work on teaching with technology.

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