The Religious Diversity Centre of Aotearoa New Zealand is pleased to announce the Term 2 course in its ‘Raising Religious Literacy’ series. The Course is being offered in both Auckland (Monday evenings) and Hamilton (Thursday evenings) throughout the 2017 school year.  Term 2 classes  begin the week of 8 May 2017.  There are no prerequisites and each Term can be taken independently of the others. 

Exploring the diverse belief traditions contributing to New Zealand society

Learn about the history, development and contemporary practice of the world’s major religions and ‘isms’ throughout 2017. Each Term in 2017 will have a different focus and cover different material. Terms 1 and 2 will focus on Selected Topics in the Contemporary Practice of each of the major world religions, while Terms 3 and 4 will focus on the history and development of the world’s main faith traditions. In the first half of the year we will look at selected topics in comparative world religion, focusing on a different topic during each class and looking how each religion approaches that particular topic. In the second half of the year, we will explore the history and development of each of the world religions, focusing on the Eastern Traditions in Term 3 and the Western Traditions in Term 4. Detailed Syllabi are available at the start of each Term. Any Term can be taken independently of the others, and there are no prerequisites for any of the Term courses.

Each Term consists of 8 weekly classes, as follows:

Term 1 Selected Topics in World Religions: Week 1: Course Introduction, Foundations: A Brief History of Religion and Religious Behaviour;  Week 2: Founder Figures;  Week 3: Sacred Texts;  Week 4: Image and Iconography;  Week 5: Prayer and Worship;  Week 6: Sacred Time;  Week 7: Sacred Spaces;  and Week 8: Sacred Clothing.

Term 2 Selected Topics in World Religions:  Week 1: Food and Ritual;  Week 2: Rites of Passage: Birth and Coming of Age Ceremonies;  Week 3: Rites of Passage: Marriage;  Week 4: Sacred Journeys and Pilgrimage;  Week 5: Asceticism and Renunciation;  Week 6: Esoteric Traditions;  Week 7: Religious Fundamentalism and Extremism;  and Week 8: Rites of Passage: Death and Dying.

Term 3 Eastern Religious Traditions: Starting our study with the earliest origins of religious behaviour, we will then turn our focus towards the history and development of the Eastern Religious Traditions. We will first look at the rise of the Indus Valley Civilisation and the Indian traditions of Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism. We will then switch our focus to both the Chinese religious traditions (Folk religion, Taoism, Confucianism, and Chinese Buddhism), followed by an exploration of the Japanese religious traditions (Shinto, Shingon, Tendai, Nichiren and Zen Buddhism).

Term 4 Western Religious Traditions: Focusing on the history and development of the Western belief traditions, including the Rise of Monotheism and the origins of religious belief in ancient Mesopotamia, including Zoroastrianism. We will then begin our study of the Abrahamic faiths of Judaism, Christianity, Islam, ending our discussions with other religious movements (e.g. the Bahá’í faith), and the moral and ethical ideologies of Atheism, Agnosticism, Rationalism and Humanism.



AUCKLAND: Classes will meet on Monday nights from 7:00-9:00pm, and will be held in the Religious Diversity Centre classrooms at the University of Otago House, 385 Queen Street, Auckland. Parking is available in the Wilson Car Park underneath the building.
Term 1 dates: Mondays 7-9pm, beginning 13 Feb, ending 3 Apr 2017.
Term 2 dates: Mondays 7-9pm, beginning 8 May, ending 26 Jun 2017.
Term 3 dates: Mondays 7-9pm, beginning 31 Jul, ending 18 Sep 2017.
Term 4 dates: Mondays 7-9pm, beginning 23 Oct, ending 11 Dec 2017.

HAMILTON: Classes will meet on Thursday nights from 7:00-9:00pm under the auspices of Fraser High School’s Adult and Community Education (ACE) programme, and will be held at Fraser High School72 Ellicott Road, Hamilton. Free parking available at Fraser High.
Term 1 dates: Thurs 7-9pm, beginning 16 Feb, ending 6 Apr 2017.
Term 2 dates: Thurs 7-9pm, beginning 11 May, ending 29 Jun 2017.
Term 3 dates: Thurs 7-9pm, beginning 3 Aug, ending 21 Sep 2017.
Term 4 dates: Thurs 7-9pm, beginning 26 Oct, ending 14 Dec 2017.



AUCKLAND class (Monday evenings):
Waged: $95 per term course cost
Unwaged/Students/Seniors: $65 per term course cost
Registration for the Term 1 can be completed by emailing <>. Please bring a cheque made out to the “Religious Diversity Centre Trust” to the first night of class.  Alternatively, you can make a direct bank deposit into the RDC Trust account (see our Donate page for details).  We are working to get a payment gateway and registration button up on this page but this may take a few weeks.  When the payment buttons become available you will be able to register and pay for each Term course here. For now, we’ll stick with the old method!

HAMILTON class (Thursday evenings):
A single registration fee of $70 (GST inclusive) applies.
Course details and on-line registration and payment can be made at Fraser High School’s Adult and Community Education (ACE) site at <>.



The classes are taught by Dr Todd Nachowitz. Todd is a part-time lecturer in the Studies in Religion programme at the University of Waikato where he teaches two introductory courses on Comparative Religion, and co-teaches with Prof. Douglas Pratt additional courses in religious studies. He is also the Centre Establishment Coordinator of the Religious Diversity Centre, and a member of the Executive Committee of the Waikato Interfaith Council. Todd has lived and worked in the United States, India, Pakistan and Nepal and is a specialist in comparative world religions, and the history, religions, languages and cultures of South Asia. His full bio can be viewed at <>.

Dr Todd Nachowitz, Humayan’s Tomb, New Delhi, India, February 2015.

Some comments from previous class evaluations:

  • The lecturer taught with great care and sensitivity towards all religious and cultural beliefs. This course unpacks knowledge that is applicable to our social well-being. I enjoyed the paper and all the enthusiasm from the lecturer. Thank you!
  • This course was very interesting and stimulating. Dr Nachowitz has an effective teaching style, and his passion for the subject was evident in every lesson. I hope you continue to teach this so that others can have an opportunity to benefit from it like me. Thank you for a wonderful class. 
  • I suggest everyone should take the opportunity to do this course. It has given me a better understanding of the different religions and beliefs.
  • I loved everything about it. Every religion is very interesting.
  • Outstanding teacher with magnificent stories/experiences to share.
  • I especially loved all the things he brought in to show us. Explained in a way that was easy to understand.
  • Term 1 (2017) was both fascinating and very instructive. Each week a highly informative and visually interesting powerpoint was used to present the various topics as they related to the major faith traditions. Todd’s anecdotes based on his years of academic research and teaching, as well as living in South Asia for over a decade, helped bring the information to life. The class consisted of people of all ages, including students, educators, ministers of religion and others simply interested in broadening their knowledge about faith traditions. —Ruth Cleaver (President, Auckland Inter-faith Council, 2017 Term 1)
  • I really like Todd’s approach, to select topics for each evening and look at how each religion expresses that particular topic. As he has said this tends to draw out the similarities between the various religions rather than the differences. As a minister of Universal Worship, coming from a Sufi and interfaith perspective, I appreciate this approach very much. —Sirr Christoffersen (Auckland 2017 Term 1)
  • A superb course for a deeper and exciting understanding into the rich spiritualities in different major religions of the world. Educational course contents and very helpful Sources and References for deeper understanding are given. An indispensable course for interfaith dialogue geared towards a more comprehensive religious approach for world peace. Doctor Todd is a friendly teacher and an effective tour guide into the course. It was once believed that true Biblical Prophets feel the world with the passion of God. That’s how Dr Todd guides us into the subject matter of the Course. —Rev Danny Ioka (Auckland 2017 Term 1)
  • This course is a gem, more people need to know about it. —Hamilton 2017 Term 1 course participant