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:

  • Global history and ideas about global communities
  • Nature, ecology, sustainability and animistic spiritualities
  • 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 (University of Copenhagen) and Kocku von Stuckrad (University of Groningen) with online streaming. 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.


Fagstudieordning Bacheloruddannelsen i religionsvidenskab, 2019

Fagstudieordning Bachelordelen af sidefaget i religionsvidenskab, 2019

Fagstudieordning Bachelortilvalg i religionsvidenskab, 2019

Fagstudieordning Kandidattilvalg i religionsvidenskab, 2019


Learning outcome

BA 2019-ordning
Valgfrit område (aktivitetskode HRVB00151E)
Valgfrit område med sprogudprøvning (aktivitetskode HRVB00171E)
Bachelorprojekt (aktivitetskode HRVB00181E)

BA Sidefag 2019-ordning
Valgfrit område med sprogudprøvning (aktivitetskode HRVB10151E)

BA Tilvalg 2019-studieordning
Valgfrit område (aktivitetskode HRVB10231E)

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

Lectures and discussions

In order for students at the BA or BA sidefag program in Religious Studies to use the exam code for Valgfrit område med sprogudprøvning (HRVB00171E or HRVB10151E), students must have passed their mandatory foreign language courses, alternatively be engaged in preparing their final language exam.

Continuous feedback during the course
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


Dette er et dagkursus via tompladsordningen mod betaling på Åbent Universitet. Tilmeld dig og se aktuel prisoversigt på 

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 Coordinator
  • Tim Rudbøg   (10-786d717679686673696b446c7971326f7932686f)

Tim Rudbøg,, NN

Saved on the 11-10-2022

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