Rapper Bun B to Teach Free Online Class at Rice U. Rapper Bun B is headed to a MOOC near you as he gears up to teach the free “Religion and Hip-Hop Culture” course at Rice University this spring. Bun B will team up with Anthony Pinn, Professor of Religious Studies at the university, to teach the six week course. The class is being offered to students free of charge with the help of the school’s Center for Digital Learning and Scholarship and MOOC megalith, edX. CEO of edX, Anant Agarwall, said of the new course, “We have been honored to work with Rice University on MOOC’s ranging from high school to college level courses. With ‘Religion and Hip-Hop Culture’, together we are enabling the global learning community to examine the intersection of two vital areas – religion and music – that are so deeply rooted in cultures around the world.” Bun said, “This class, ‘Religion and Hip-Hop Culture’, offers an opportunity to explore the connections between religion and hip-hop in ways that open us to seeing our world differently, to understanding anew how human express in creative and compelling ways their answers to the large questions of existence, as well as the more ordinary challenges and joys of life.” “Religion and Hip-Hop Culture” comes on the heels of Bun and Pinn’s very successful class taught on the Rice University Campus. This will be the first MOOC endeavor for both instructors as well. “Our classroom course at Rice went so well that people off campus were contacting us and asking us about the course and how they could take it,” said Pinn. “Working with Bun in the classroom, it became clear that there were ways of learning and teaching that we hadn’t tapped. The MOOC gave us a way to be even more creative and innovative in terms of how we link the rest of the world with the cultural richness and diversity of Houston to get information across.” The six week spring course has a lot to offer students interested in the multilayered connection between Hip-Hop and religion. The course description provides a great picture of what will be covered with the use of video, readings, music, imagery and intimate stories from industry insiders. Bun also sums up what the course is about in excellent fashion as he says, “This course gave me the opportunity to let people see a side of hip-hop that isn’t always discussed. We’ve started a conversation that cannot end until people have a better understanding of who we are and what we do.” A portion of the course description reads as follows: “We will start out time with some basic assumptions, the most important being a willingness to think about Hip-Hop and religion as cultures that wrestle with the huge questions of our existence: Who are we? Why are we? Where are we? You will also need to be open to the possibility of Hip-Hop as a language through which these complex and religious questions are presented, explored, and interpreted. As this course unfolds, we’ll look closely into the relationships between Hip-Hop culture and religion. We will explore the ways in which Hip-Hop culture discusses and provides life meaning in complex ways through (1) a discussion of the history and content of rap music; (2) an examination of religion in rap music; (3) an exploration of the religious sensibilities of rap artists; and (4) a discussion of the implication of the connection between rap and religion.” Pinn continued, “This course takes two important cultural developments in human history and looks at their points of commonality and their differences. The idea is to do that in a way that gives students a vocabulary, grammar, ideas and concepts that will allow them to think about and work on related issues within their own context.” There certainly seems to be a lot of interesting ground to cover and a unique perspective offered up to students interested in analyzing the ways in which these two worlds collide. You can’t beat a front row seat to the knowledge is held by both instructors, especially when it’s for free! There’s still time to sign up for Rice University’s Religion and Hip Hop Culture course before its March 24 start date. Head on over to the edX website for more information or click here!