TFF3240 – Ritual, Pilgrimage and Environmentalism

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Course content

Recent years have witnessed a growing interest in pilgrimage, both internationally and in Norway. These ritual acts are practiced in natural landscapes, tracing historical roots of religious traditions. This course seeks to explore this phenomenon as a ritual religious practice, both drawing on religious traditions, while simultaneously removing religious practice from its common arenas into natural landscapes. We ask what is constituted ritually through this practice, what understandings of religion are implied and how this walking in nature as pilgrims facilitates contemplation.

The course also explores the intersections between ritual, pilgrimage and environmentalism. Drawing on theology and comparative religious studies, it offers an introduction to ritual theory and pilgrimage studies. We will explore the history, contemporary expression and future potential of pilgrimage cross-culturally. Using ethnographic examples both from Christian and comparative religious and secular contexts, such as new age movements and environmentalist initiatives, we ask if pilgrimage as a ritualized practice can engender movements to counter climate-change and promote sustainable earth practices.

Learning outcome

Through this course, the students will have obtained insights into the history and contemporary expressions of pilgrimage. The students will have obtained knowledge about interdisciplinary ritual theory and the application of such theory to ethnographic studies of religious pilgrimage and environmental practices. Through the development of an essay on a self-chosen relevant topic, the students will learn how to demonstrate these theoretical insights.


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Obligatory requirements

Each student must participate in 80% of the course sessions.

Each student will give two short oral presentations on the course literature. During the course, a proposal and outline problem for the term paper must be turned in (1-2 pages). The instructors will be available to give feedback and support in the writing process.


Term paper, 3000-4000 words.

Language of examination

The examination text is given in English, and you submit your response in English.

Grading scale

Grades are awarded on a scale from A to F, where A is the best grade and F is a fail. Read more about the grading system.

Explanations and appeals

Resit an examination

Withdrawal from an examination

It is possible to take the exam up to 3 times. If you withdraw from the exam after the deadline or during the exam, this will be counted as an examination attempt.

Special examination arrangements

Application form, deadline and requirements for special examination arrangements.

Facts about this course






Spring 2015


Spring 2015

Teaching language