Nature, Humanity, and Global Perspectives in Modern Spirituality and Esotericism

Course content

Contemporary thinking consists of a pluralism of perspectives, but mainstream perspectives have strong roots in the Enlightenment and post-Enlightenment periods and the ideas that emerged in those contexts regarding 'nature', 'human nature', 'ethics', and the history of the planet. The world has since the 18th–19th centuries undergone rapid changes with significant developments in terms of industrialization, modernization, science and technology and globalization, but new problems have equally emerged in relation to nature, such as sustainability, climate disruption and mass extinction; in relation to humanity in connection with capitalism, individualism, new forms of nationalism, and the crisis of meaning; and on a global scale with cultural differences and processes of globalization. Alongside conventional thought, new perspectives continue to emerge in the field of spirituality and esotericism. Sometimes these come up as a countercurrent to mainstream thought and more established religions, sometimes they become mainstream in themselves.

This course will critically introduce and analyze a number of lesser known perspectives and claimed solutions to problems that humanity and the world have been facing over the past 200 years by focusing on a range of spiritual and esoteric groups and movements. These approaches and concepts will be studied in connection with contemporary problems.

The course will particularly focus on three major themes:

  1. Global history and ideas about global communities
  2. Nature, ecology, sustainability and animistic spiritualities
  3. Human nature, ethics, and activism

Modern spiritual and esoteric currents and movements have continued to mirror and interconnect with more mainstream thought on these three topics, but often pose very different solutions based on different forms of argumentation and perspectives.

Momements and perspectives discussed include those associated with Romantic philosophers, occultism, theosophy, paganism, (neo-)shamanism, the new age movement, countercultural movements, and contemporary spiritual philosophers.

In studying these, the course will critically engage with discourse theory, problem solving approaches, global history, entanglement, agency, the history of ideas, and intertextuality.

The course is designed as a collaboration between Tim Rudbøg and Bjarke Stanley Nielsen (University of Copenhagen) and Kocku von Stuckrad (University of Groningen) with online streaming options available. Based on this collaboration, the course aims to provide students with nuanced and critical perspectives on the pluralism of modern discourses concerning nature, humanity, and global communities.

This course allows you to write your exam essays in a variety of relevant topics and addresses students at BA, MA and PhD levels.


BA-studieordning for det centrale fag i Religionsvidenskab 2015

BA Gymnasierettet tilvalg, 2015-ordning

Fagstudieordning Bacheloruddannelsen i religionsvidenskab, 2019

Fagstudieordning Bachelordelen af sidefaget i religionsvidenskab, 2019

Fagstudieordning Bachelortilvalg i religionsvidenskab, 2019

Fagstudieordning Kandidattilvalg i religionsvidenskab, 2013


Learning outcome

BA 2015-studieordning:
Valgfrit område (aktivitetskode HRVB00061E)
Valgfrit område med sprogudprøvning (aktivitetskode HRVB00081E)

BA-projekt (aktivitetskode HRVB00091E)

BA Gymnasierettet tilvalg, 2015-ordning:
Valgfrit område med sprogudprøvning (aktivitetskode HRVB10121E)

BA 2019-ordning
Valgfrit område (aktivitetskode HRVB00151E)
Valgfrit område med sprogudprøvning (aktivitetskode HRVB00171E)
BA-projekt (aktivitetskode HRVB00181E)
BA Sidefag 2019-ordning
Valgfrit område med sprogudprøvning (aktivitetskode HRVB10151E)

BA Tilvalg 2019-studieordning
Valgfrit område (aktivitetskode HRVB10231E)
Særligt studeret område A (aktivitetskode HRVB10251E)
Særligt studeret område B (aktivitetskode HRVB10261E)
Særligt studeret område C (aktivitetskode HRVB10271E)

KA Tilvalg 2019-studieordning
Frit valgt emne (aktivitetskode HRVK13001E)

The course is composed of classes, lectures, discussions, supervision, source-work.

Suggested literature will be displayed on the course plan and much of it will be available online.

The criteria are aligned with the curricula/​studieordninger depending on the module and exam taken in relation with the course

This international course is in English and will be available online as well as in real-time. It allows you to write an essay in a variety of relevant topics and addresses students at all levels.
Distance learning participation is possible. Writing your exam essays in Danish, Swedish, Norwegian and English is also possible.
Course literature will be available online in Absalon and at the Royal Danish Library.

Continuous feedback during the course of the semester
Type of assessment
Criteria for exam assessment

Single subject courses (day)

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Lectures
  • 84
  • Preparation
  • 328,5
  • English
  • 412,5


Course number
Programme level
Bachelor choice
Bachelor’s minor subject
Full Degree Master choice

1 semester

Se skemalink nedenfor
Study Board of Cross-Cultural and Regional Studies
Contracting department
  • Department of Cross-Cultural and Regional Studies
Contracting faculty
  • Faculty of Humanities
Course Coordinators
  • Tim Rudbøg   (10-766b6f74776664716769426a776f306d7730666d)
  • Bjarke Stanley Nielsen   (3-657671436b7870316e7831676e)

Tim Rudbøg,, Bjarke Stanley Nielsen,

Saved on the 30-06-2021

Are you BA- or KA-student?

Are you bachelor- or kandidat-student, then find the course in the course catalog for students:

Courseinformation of students