Religious Diversity Classes

Classes ➞ Religious Diversity classes

EarthDiverse currently offers three distinct series of courses on religious diversity, with each series consisting of 4 Terms lasting an entire year. Any of these courses can be taken independently of the others as there are no prerequisites.

All courses are taught from an objective point of view. They are 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.

NOTE: please note that our Religious Fundamentalism, Extremism and Terrorism course has shifted from meeting on Tuesday evenings to Friday days. The new class time is Fridays, 11:00am-1:30pm. The next class in this series meets on Friday 21 Feb 11:00am.


The first series of courses, entitled Discovering Religious Diversity, is introductory in nature, with the first two terms detailing the History and Development of both the Western and Eastern Traditions, while the second two terms focus on Contemporary Beliefs & Practices.

The following courses are offered in this series:

  • RD101: History & Development: Western Religious Traditions
  • RD102: History & Development: Eastern Religious Traditions
  • RD103: Contemporary Belief & Practice: Selected Topics 1
  • RD104: Contemporary Belief & Practice: Selected Topics 2

The RD101 course is currently being offered in Te Awamutu with a Term 1 focus on ‘Christianity.’ Term 2 will examine ‘Islam’ while Terms 3 & 4 in 2020 will view both Hinduism and Buddhism.

Click here for more detailed information on this series of classes.


Our second series of Religious Diversity courses, entitled Contemporary Issues in Religion, explores contemporary issues in religious diversity.

The following courses are currently offered in this series:

  • RD201: Religious Fundamentalism, Extremism and Terrorism
  • RD202: Religion & Nonviolence
  • RD203: Other ‘Isms
  • RD204: New Religious Movements

RD201: “Religious Fundamentalism, Extremism and Terrorism” is currently being offered in Hamilton during Term 1. The Term 2 class will follow up with an examination of Religion and Nonviolence.

Click here for more detailed information on this series of classes.


Our World Religions series is our newest series of courses, first introduced in February 2020 and provides an in-depth focus on each of the world’s main religious traditions on a rotating basis. Our 2020 courses provide an in-depth examination of Judaism, Islam, Hinduism & Buddhism.

The following courses are currently being offered in this series:

  • RD301: Judaism
  • RD302: Islam
  • RD303: Hinduism
  • RD304: Buddhism

RD301: ‘Judaism’ is currently being offered in Hamilton during 2020 Term 1. The Term 2 class will examine ‘Islam’ while the second half of the year will focus on ‘Hinduism’ and ‘Buddhism’. Each term has 8 sessions.

Click here for more detailed information on this series of classes.

General Information:

Each series is comprised of 4 independent Terms which explore related issues. We therefore currently offer a total of twelve distinct Term courses on Religious Diversity in a variety of locations on a rotational basis. Each Term course may be taken independently of the others and there are no prerequisites. Religious Diversity courses may therefore be joined at any time throughout the year.

Religious Diversity classes are currently being offered in Hamilton and Te Awamutu, with courses returning to Tauranga in 2020 Term 3.

For more detailed information on each series of courses (including detailed descriptions of each Term, meeting times and locations, and course fees and registration) click on the links above or select Classes ➞ Religious Diversity classes ➞  and then select the particular series of courses that you are interested in, from the menu above.

If the course you are interested is not currently being taught, rest assured that it will be again in the future as we continuously rotate the courses on offer. We also plan to add additional locations in the future. Please contact us if you are interested in having us teach in your area or through your local group, association or organisation.

Online registration for 2020 Term 1 classes in available now on our Registration page.


  • 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 classes.
  • 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.

Tauranga class (14 Dec 2018), from left to right: Rev. John Hebenton, Kevin Nichol, Helen Carey, Sue Reynolds, Alison Carey, Betty Atkinson, Viv Whimster, Bhadra Dasi Reid, Dianne Sundberg, Paula Simons, Carole Spice, Ngaire Southon, Dr Todd Nachowitz. Missing from photo: Cliff Simons, Mary Rose, Leigh Sundberg and Margaret Birtles.


  • Term 1: begins the week on Mon 10 Feb, and ends Fri 3 Apr 2020
    • Note: Hebrew classes begin the week of Mon 3 Feb, end Fri 27 Mar
  • Term 2: begins the week of Mon 4 May, and ends Fri 26 Jun 2020
  • Term 3: begins the week of Mon 27 July, and ends Fri 18 Sep 2020
  • Term 4: begins the week of Mon 19 Oct, and ends Fri 11 Dec 2020

HAMILTON: Hamilton classes are held in the Conference Room at Artmakers, Norris Ward Park Arts Centre, 2 Seddon Road, Hamilton. The carpark entrance is off Seddon Road at the back of Norris Ward Park. The classroom is immediately to the left of the Waikato Society of Potters studio. There is plenty of free parking available in the carpark just outside the classroom.

TE AWAMUTU: Te Awamutu classes currently meet on the 1st & 3rd Wednesdays of the month during school Terms from 6:30-9:00pm for a total of 4 sessions per Term.

  • Term 1 classes held on 19 Feb, 4 Mar, 18 Mar and 1 Apr 2020.
  • Classes are held at St John’s Anglican Church, 162 Arawata Street, Te Awamutu

TAURANGA: Tauranga classes meet weekly during Terms 3 & 4 in 2020 from 6:00-8:30 and are held at St George Anglican Church, 1 Church St, Gate Pa, Tauranga.


HAMILTON & TAURANGA classes (8-week Terms):

  • Waged: $104 per person per term (includes $4 online registration fee)
  • Unwaged/Student/Senior: $84/person (includes $4 online registration fee)

TE AWAMUTU class (4 sessions per Term):

  • Waged: $54 per person (includes $4 online registration fee)
  • Unwaged/Student/Senior: $44/person (includes $4 online registration fee)


Select the ‘Registration’ link from the Main Menu bar above, or click here to go to the registration page, then scroll down to the appropriate section that has the type of class you wish to apply for (e.g. ‘Religious Diversity’ courses or ‘Language courses’. Make sure that you chose the correct ‘Pay Now’ button for the location of the course you wish to enroll in. Fill in your details, select ‘Pay Now’ and you will be taken to a Payments page where you can securely enter in your payment details. A receipt will automatically be generated for you.

Please note that 2020 Registration is available now on our Registration page.

Hamilton class participant John Vreede tries on a Jewish tallit or prayer shawl


All classes are taught by Todd Nachowitz, PhD. Todd has been a part-time lecturer in Religious Studies at the University of Waikato where he taught introductory courses on Comparative Religion; Religious Fundamentalism, Extremism and Terrorism; Religion in Secular Society; and Islam. Todd has 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) that focused on language, culture and religion. Todd speaks Hindu and Urdu, and is a specialist in comparative world religions and the history, religions, languages and cultures of South Asia. Todd’s most recent research and publications involve religious diversity, the Indian diaspora, and the history and development of multiculturalism in New Zealand. He was a founding Trustee and former Centre Coordinator of the Religious Diversity Centre, based in Auckland, and a member of the Executive Committee of the Waikato Interfaith Council.

Dr Todd Nachowitz, Humayan’s Tomb, New Delhi, India, February 2015.


  • The lecturer taught with great care and sensitivity towards all religious and cultural beliefs. This course unpacks knowledge that is applicable to our social well-being. I enjoyed the paper and all the enthusiasm from the lecturer. Thank you!
  • This course was very interesting and stimulating. Dr Nachowitz has an effective teaching style, and his passion for the subject was evident in every lesson. I hope you continue to teach this so that others can have an opportunity to benefit from it like me. Thank you for a wonderful class. 
  • I suggest everyone should take the opportunity to do this course. It has given me a better understanding of the different religions and beliefs.
  • I loved everything about it. Every religion is very interesting.
  • Outstanding teacher with magnificent stories/experiences to share.
  • I especially loved all the things he brought in to show us. Explained in a way that was easy to understand.
  • The Discovering Religious Diversity series of classes was both fascinating and very instructive. Each week a highly informative and visually interesting powerpoint was used to present the various topics as they related to the major faith traditions. Todd’s anecdotes based on his years of academic research and teaching, as well as living in South Asia for over a decade, helped bring the information to life. The class consisted of people of all ages, including students, educators, ministers of religion and others simply interested in broadening their knowledge about faith traditions. —Ruth Cleaver (President, Auckland Inter-faith Council)
  • I really like Todd’s approach, to select topics for each evening and look at how each religion expresses that particular topic. As he has said this tends to draw out the similarities between the various religions rather than the differences. As a minister of Universal Worship, coming from a Sufi and interfaith perspective, I appreciate this approach very much. —Sirr Christoffersen (Auckland class participant)
  • A superb course for a deeper and exciting understanding into the rich spiritualities in different major religions of the world. Educational course contents and very helpful Sources and References for deeper understanding are given. An indispensable course for interfaith dialogue geared towards a more comprehensive religious approach for world peace. Doctor Todd is a friendly teacher and an effective tour guide into the course. It was once believed that true Biblical Prophets feel the world with the passion of God. That’s how Dr Todd guides us into the subject matter of the Course. —Rev Danny Ioka (Auckland)
  • Todd is a well prepared teacher. Thorough in his knowledge and has rich personal experience of major world religions to draw from. Very enjoyable so much that I will enrol for another term. —Philomena Clare (Auckland)
  • This course is a gem, more people need to know about it. —Hamilton 2017 course participant
  • Todd’s course was like a family gathering. That was one of the reasons it was such fun. Thank you. —Hugh Oliver (Hamilton 2018 Term 3 & Term 4 course participant)
  • This class has been the highlight of my week. Thank you for your gifts of making theology interesting and facilitating us to make connections between the traditions we have been introduced to. —John Aston (Auckland 2018 Terms 1-4 course participant)
  • Thank you for a great year of learning. I loved the sessions and will spread the word to others. —Mariette Poortman (Hamilton 2018 Terms 1-4 course participant)
  • Great year, great lessons, great edification! —Bhadra Dasi (Tauranga 2018 Terms 1-4 course participant)
  • This course expanded my knowledge base and the interaction invited me into more understanding and appreciation of otherness – only to discover (yet again) that ‘yes, there is much diversity’ and ‘yes, we share so much in common’ (Discovering Religious Diversity class participant, Jan 2019)
  • We took a journey every Thursday without leaving the room, with everyone contributing. Todd drew us all in. (Discovering Religious Diversity Hamilton class participant, Jan 2019)
  • Todd is an excellent tutor, who can teach by personal experience and easily explain subjects (Discovering Religious Diversity class participant, Jan 2019)
  • Todd’s one of very few people who you’d go to hear no matter what subject he talked about. I’d go to hear him talk about paint drying (Hein Laaper, Discovering Religious Diversity class participant, Jan 2019)

page last updated 12 February 2020.