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​​Learning about a big idea focuses on gaining both basic knowledge about and a practical understanding of the idea.  To gain knowledge, focus on answering questions that begin with five journalistic W’s: Who, what, when, where, and why.

  • Who? Who has written or spoken about this idea? Who (professions, groups of people) are affected/impacted by this idea? Who are considered “experts” in this idea? Who uses this idea when they are working? Whose life is a good example of this idea? Who dedicated themselves to living out this idea?
  • What? What are different definitions/understandings of this idea? What are some famous quotes about this idea? What do most people who discuss this idea seem to agree on? What do they all agree on? What are the areas of disagreement? What are some synonyms and terms related to this idea?
  • When? When (in the history of the world) has this idea been important? When (in the history of your nation) has this idea been important? When (in a person’s lifespan) is this idea important? When (in a given year) is this important to people? When is it unimportant?
  • Where? Where (world regions/countries/buildings) did this idea originate? Where (world regions/countries/buildings) is this idea associated/lived out?
  • Why? Why do people consider this idea important? Why do I consider this idea important? Why is it is so difficult to make this idea a reality?

​​Gaining a practical understanding of the ideas involves noticing how that idea is or isn’t present in the world around you. To understand the idea of “justice” practically, see where you see it in your every day life.  Be on the lookout for times when people, television shows, or music you listen to used words such as “just,” “fair”, “equal,” and their opposites. What recurring patterns do you see? What uses were unexpected? What did they share? What differences were there? What was familiar/expected? What strikes you as being especially insightful, or powerful?

​​Learning is the primary focus of our website College Religion and Philosophy, where you will find college level courses that introduce varied understandings of the big ideas and encourage you to see how they are evidenced in day to day life. In the process of reading thought-provoking opinion pieces on You Should Be A Liberal, you can learn about the history and origin of ideas relating to the U.S. political scene. In the lessons and blog posts of Tangled Meditations you can learn more about the ideas of beauty, creativity, and mindfulness.

Religion is a place where many encounter big ideas.

Exploring ideas that matter is a cyclical process with three distinct phases: Learning, Pondering, and Engaging. Enter the exploration process at any phase, moving ‘backward’ or ‘forward’ in the cycle.  After learning about an idea, consider pondering its many possibilities or engaging it by acting upon it.

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