Religious beliefs and institutions continue to shape the course of history, as ongoing unrest and war in the Middle East clearly demonstrate.

The historic role of religion is the topic of this years International Studies Summer Institute for Teachers.”Religion and the World,”organized by the West Virginia Consortium for Faculty and Course Development in International Studies at West Virginia University, will be offered July 27-Aug. 1 at Canaan Valley Resort and Conference Center. FACDIS is accepting applications for the virtually cost-free program through Tuesday, April 15.

The”Religion and the World”program discusses historical dimensions of religion that should be particularly useful to teachers interested in understanding and teaching about the multiple influences that world religions have had on history and the human experience. Besides five days of instruction, the institute will include a trip to Washington, D.C., Aug. 1-3.

The Summer Institute program will focus on the philosophical, theological and historical approaches to studying the impact that religion has on the world; survey the main religions of the world; and analyze several topics and problems associated with religion, including discussions of politics, and peace and social justice issues.

WVU history professor John C. Super will spearhead the program. He will be assisted by historian Briane K. Turley and various guest lecturers. The trip to the Washington, D.C., area will include visits to important sites representing various world religions, including the St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Shrine in Emmitsburg, Md., and the Islamic Center of Washington.

Space is available for up to 40 teachers. Teachers will receive three hours of free professional development graduate credit from WVU , free lodging and meals at Canaan Valley Resort, transportation, lodging, some meals, and various educational activities in Washington, plus free texts and teaching resource materials.

This staff development program is being organized for the 15th summer by FACDIS , a statewide organization devoted to improving global understanding and enhancing international education in West Virginia. FACDIS furthers its mission by providing professional development opportunities each summer for West Virginia teachers.

West Virginia teachers of any subject or grade are eligible to apply, but applicants must indicate how they will use the information and materials on religion in their classrooms. While the application deadline is April 15, late applications may be considered if space remains after that date.

For further information, contact the FACDIS office at 304-293-7140. Requests can also be emailed to FACDIS Assistant Director Ann Levine at . Information and application is available by going to the FACDIS Web site at clicking on the 2003 Summer Institute link.