• This course is offered in 2022 Term 3 (Aug-Sep) and in 2022 Term 4 (Oct-Dec). Different topics offered each Term.

  • Offered in-person only, this course has no distance-learning component.

Date & Time:

  • This class continues to meet biweekly on Wednesday evenings from 6:30-8:30 pm (New Zealand Time) during school Terms.

  • Our 2022 Term 3 sessions meet on the following dates:

  • 3 August 2022

  • 17 August 2022

  • 31 August 2022

  • 28 September 2022


  • The course, part of our Discovering Religious Diversity series, focuses on a comparative examination of the contemporary values and practices of the major world religions, and involves a critical exploration of lifecycle rituals and beliefs, from birth to death, food and clothing preferences, festivals and other activities associated with what religions do.

  • Throughout the four Terms of this course we look at a wide variety of selected topics in the contemporary practice of religion, focusing on a different topic during each class. In each session we cover how the different faith traditions approach the particular topic of the evening. Structuring discussions in this way allows us to focus on the numerous similarities between the major world religions rather than on any perceived differences.

  • Previous Topics covered in 2021 were: Image and Iconography; Sacred Time: Cosmology & Creation; Sacred Time: Calendars, Holy Days & Festivals; Sacred Spaces; Prayer and Worship; Sacred Clothing; Food and Ritual; and Rites of Passage: Birth & Coming of Age Ceremonies.

  • 2022 Term 1 topics covered: Rites of Passage: Marriage; Asceticism, Monasticism and Renunciation.

  • 2022 Term 2 topics covered: Monasticism and Renunciation (continued), Sacred Journeys and Pilgrimages.

  • 2022 Term 3 topics covered: Going Beyond: Esoteric Traditions and Mystical Experiences; Ethical Ideologies.

  • 2022 Term 4 topics covered: Rites of Passage: Death and Bereavement; Interfaith Perspectives on the Golden Rule.

Meet our Instructor:

Executive Director, Senior Lecturer

Dr Todd Nachowitz, PhD

Dr Todd Nachowitz, PhD, is the Founder and Executive Director of EarthDiverse. Todd is a Hamilton-based lecturer, anthropologist, environmentalist and diversity educator. He previously taught in Religious Studies at the University of Waikato, teaching courses on Comparative Religion and Religious Fundamentalism & Extremism. Todd holds a Masters Degree in Development Anthropology from Syracuse University in upstate New York (1991) and a PhD from the University of Waikato (2015) in Political Science and Public Policy where he completed his thesis on diversity governance and the Indian diaspora in New Zealand. Prior to settling in New Zealand in 1995, Todd lived and worked in the United States, India, Pakistan and Nepal. He spent 11 years in South Asia as the Academic Director for university study-abroad programmes in Varanasi, India (for the University of Wisconsin-Madison); Lahore, Pakistan (for the University of California-Berkeley); and Kathmandu, Nepal (for School for International Training, based in Brattleboro, Vermont, USA) focusing on language, culture and religion. Todd speaks Hindi and Urdu, and is a specialist in comparative world religions and the history, religions, languages and cultures of South Asia. He also currently teaches our Hindi and Urdu language courses and the Religious Diversity courses at EarthDiverse.


This Religious Diversity course is held at St John’s Anglican Church, 162 Arawata Street, Te Awamutu. Class sessions are held in the Meeting Room located behind the main church. The car park can be accessed around the corner on George Street. There is plenty of free parking available in the carpark just outside the classroom.

Distance Learning:

  • Please note that this course does not have an on-line distance learning component and is in-person only.

Distance-Learning option:

  • This Te Awamutu-based course has no distance-learning or on-line component. All classes are on-person only.

Pricing options:

All prices in New Zealand Dollars

Course curriculum:

Week by week new material will be posted throughout the duration of the course. Video recordings of each weekly session will be posted here after 1-2 days after each class.

  1. 1
    • EarthDiverse Zoom instructions; please note that this course has no Zoom component.

  2. 2
    • 20220803 T3.1 Sacred Journeys-Buddhism

  3. 3
    • 20220817 T3.2 Esoteric Traditions & Mystical Experiences: Introduction

  4. 4
    • 20220831 T3.3 Esoteric Traditions-Judaism

    • How did Kabbalah Begin? Brief History of Jewish Mysticism (4:01 mins)

  5. 5
    • 2022 T3.4 Esoteric Traditions-Christianity Islam Hinduism

    • “Islamic Mysticism: The Sufi Way” by Huston Smith


  • All classes are taught from an objective point of view. These are classes about religion and religious behavior, taught from an anthropological point of view, and are designed for participants to get a greater understanding of the depth and scope of the diversity that exists within the world’s various faith and belief traditions.

  • 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.

  • All classes encourage questions and group discussion. There are no assignments, required readings, quizzes, tests or exams.

  • PDF copies of each class presentation are emailed to all participants the next day so that you are free to focus on class content rather than taking notes. You are most welcome to come, sit back, relax, take part in and enjoy the discussions!

  • Course fees include a short tea/coffee/snack break in the middle of each session.

  • There are no refunds for missed class

  • Guests of registered participants are welcome to attend a single class at no charge.

  • Certificates of Completion for any particular Term Course or Series are available for Professional Development purposes upon request at the end of each Term or Series.


  • There are no prerequisites for this course and new learners are welcomed to join at any time throughout the year.