Like ships passing in the day : the interface between religion and international development in the programmes, publications and curricula of Canadian academic institutions.
Although matters of faith, religion and spirituality are central to the lives of millions of people in the global South. and many faith based organizations are actively involved in development. few northern academics in the field of international development make explicit reference to religion's role in development. and, if they do, the subject is often subsumed under another category, such as culture. This study seeks to shed light on the interface between religion and international development in Canadian academic institutions: to what extent is the influence -- for good or ill-- of religion or development acknowledged in their programmes, publications, and curricula? This is accomplished by means of an analysis of references to religion in the Canadian Journal of Development Studies (CJDS) and Canadian Development Reports as well as in the course offerings of International Development Studies (IDS) departments at Canadian universities. Findings show that only about 1% of article titles and 2% per cent of abstracts mention the subject of religion in its broadest definition over the twenfy five year history of the CJDS. Of 2,684 IDS courses offered (including courses cross-listed with Religious Studies departments), some 3% mention religion in their titles, and 8% in course descriptions. However, upon closer examination, only a handful of courses directly analyze the relationship between religion and development. Findings from this research are further interrogated in surveys and interviews with key informants, in order to uncover some of the reasons for what is perceived to be a lacuna in IDS teaching and research. Various recommendations are advanced: positivistic biases in academia need to be acknowledged, more research should be devoted towards an area currently understudied, and northern academics must be challenged to consider the religious reality of southern life, for, in Robert Chambers' words, "Whose reality counts?" Clearly the religious dimension of global life needs to be afforded a sharper focus in the programmes, publications and curricula of IDS departments at Canadian academic institutions.