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World religionssyllabus

  1. 1. World Religions RELG110 Instructor: Julie DeMarchi Heiland ☏ 365-0124 College’s Part of the Syllabus (orange) ⬇ College Prerequisites: Completion of ENGL080 or placement into ENGL101 College Course Description: Introduction to the major religions of the world with an emphasis on their origins and essential ideas. Included are oral religions, Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism, Taoism, Confucianism, Shinto, Judaism, Christianity, Islam and several extant alternative paths. The study is accomplished through key characteristics and patterns of religions including worldview community, central myths, ritual, ethics, emotional experiences, material expression, and sacredness. Meets General Education requirement for Diversity and Humanities. College Course Learning Goals: The World Religions course is designed to expose students to the major religions of the world to increase their understanding of the human needs satisfied by the religious experience. It will also provide information concerning the factors that determine the form particular religions have taken (symbols, rituals, sacred texts, supreme reality, etc.). As belief systems, the inherent uncertainty of each religion should be clearly understood. The differences of sources, methodologies, and purposes between religion, science, and philosophy are noted. Through developing an understanding of the factors that have shaped each religion, tolerance for the diversity of religious belief systems will be obtained. College Course Learning Outcomes and Objectives: Students will be able to: Outcome 1: develop an understanding of the human needs satisfied by the religious experience. ● Objective 1: Identify and discuss the “patterns” of religions. ● Objective 2: Identify and discuss the perspectives from which religions can be studied. ● Objective 3: Describe the purpose of studying religions of the world. Outcome 2: develop an understanding of the factors that help to determine the form
  2. 2. that particular religions take. ● Objective 1: Identify and explain a variety of religious beliefs and the correct interpretation of the concepts and symbols used. ● Objective 2: Identify and explain the characteristics of Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism, Daoism, Confucianism, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and several current alternative paths. Outcome 3: develop a sense of the uncertainty that is inherent in belief systems. ● Objective 1: Compare and contrast various religious belief systems. Outcome 4: clearly and precisely articulate the commonalities and differences between religion, science, and philosophy. ● Objective 1: Compare and contrast the differences in methodologies, sources, objects of study, and purposes of religion, science, and philosophy as paths to “truth.” Outcome 5: develop a sense of tolerance for the diversity of religious belief systems. Objective 1: Identify and discuss pressures and influences of and to religions. College’s Academic Integrity Policy: Atlantic Cape Community College expects unwavering integrity from students in submitted work. Acts of cheating or plagiarism will not be tolerated and the student will be subject to disciplinary action. Students are required to give credit to all individuals who contributed to the completion of any assignment. Specific sources of all information, ideas and quotations not original to the author of the assignment must be referenced. It should be noted that persons facilitating plagiarism or cheating by another student are equally culpable and such persons may also be subject to penalties. All students are reminded that they have an ethical responsibility to guard the academic process against corruption by such acts of dishonesty. In addition to the above, students must follow all course-specific or instructor-specific procedures established for examinations, laboratory experiments, reports and projects. All confirmed breaches of academic honesty will become part of the student’s permanent academic record. Two such offenses will constitute grounds for Academic Dismissal. For more information please see the current Student Handbook for the complete Academic Honesty Policy. Because academic honesty is essential to the trust that is fundamental to an educational experience, academically dishonest behaviors will not be tolerated. Examples include, but are not limited to, cheating, fabrication, plagiarism, copying and facilitating academic dishonesty. Any academic dishonesty will be reported to the Dean of Instruction and the Dean of Students. Penalties will result in an 'F' or '0' for the assignment and may result in an 'F' for the course. Two such offenses at Atlantic Cape Community College will be grounds for academic dismissal. See the student handbook for more information.
  3. 3. Julie’s Part of the Syllabus (blue) ⬇ Goal: ♱ to obtain a competent, basic knowledge of the fundamental aspects of each of the world's major religions, as well as some smaller ones, to become “religiously literate” Objectives: ☪ to be able to articulate, discuss, compare, and contrast the world religions ☯ to understand, identify and distinguish inter-religious problems from political and cultural ones, and to see where culture and religion are not so easily separated ✠ to learn how religious understanding shapes decision-making From the Instructor: I am very happy you've chosen to take this class. I've made this syllabus as comprehensive as possible, but if there's anything you still need an answer to, please let me know. World religions is one of my favorite subjects and I have long had a concern for religious literacy. In American society there is a definite stigma attached to discussing religious things in the public arena; therefore, while we receive training in all manner of subjects, religion is typically not one of them. I hope to learn along with you. Text: We will be using the text Experiencing the World's Religions: Tradition, Challenge, and Change by Michael Malloy, 6th Edition, as selected by ACCC. ISBN 0078038278 Supplemental texts, websites, videos, and materials are recommended, including alternative texts (used) if you have difficulty with the Malloy text. See the bottom of this syllabus and the course website for suggestions. Website: I hope that you will help me add to website for the class. If you find an interesting website, book, video, or movie, you can email it to me and I may add it to our class's "resource" site.
  4. 4. Classroom Policies and Assessment Strategies: My approach to this course, grade-wise: I like to offer a variety of evaluations to obtain as fair a grade as possible. Frequent assessment offers the greatest possible chance for a successful grade since each assessment provides an opportunity to shine. The following breaks down how you will be evaluated in this class: 1. In person class only: Attendance, by way of participation, will be considered part of your grade. Obviously if you are not physically in class it is not possible to participate. Since each of our sessions is worth about two “normal” classes, no more than two unexcused absences during the semester will be permitted before total loss of participation points. Do not be late for class or leave early. Repeated lateness/leaving is equivalent to absence. While in class, be respectful by leaving your cell phone off and out of sight, giving courteous attention to the instructor or presenter, and by refraining from putting one’s head on the desk. You will receive one grade only for participation. 2. The exams will be a substantial portion of your grade. You may choose any ten of the online exams over the course of the semester, or more if you’d like extra credit. Depending on progress of the course during the semester, the exam schedule is subject to change. The exams are primarily objective in nature (T/F, multiple choice). As much as possible this semester, we will utilize online testing, using Blackboard, to save ourselves valuable class time. 3. The research paper, reflection paper, and presentation are very important since we will be learning from each other. (The presentation pertains to the in-person class only, not to the online class.) You will find your assigned research paper topic on the course website: You may choose to do your presentation on either your research paper topic or your reflection paper topic (see below for more on the reflection paper). You will notice that research paper topics are grouped according to world religion. Therefore you have the option of doing your presentation either individually or with your group. If you choose to give your presentation as a group (such as the Buddhism group),
  5. 5. you will receive a group grade for the presentation. In either case, you should get to know the people in your group. Each person in the group will be required to write their own seven to ten page paper, utilizing APA style/citation. All papers are to be submitted on Blackboard only, where they will be automatically run through Turnitin plagiarism detection software. All presentations need to utilize audio and/or visual aids of some kind. The reflection paper must be five to ten pages long. You are required to attend any religious worship service, meeting, study, festival, or event of your own choosing. Choose something that interests you! Perhaps you will choose to attend church or temple with a friend. Please visit an event/location that is not associated with your own congregation. If you do not regularly attend religious services, however, you may choose to return to your own religious house of worship to experience and write about that experience through new eyes. You may attend a museum if there is a religious aspect to the exhibit(s), such as the Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC, the National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia, Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape Cultural Center in Bridgeton, etc. The African American Heritage Museum in Newtonville (near Hammonton) may be an option if there is an exhibit with a religious aspect or if you can show religious background to someone being profiled. The same is true of the Ocean City or Atlantic City Historical Museums, for example; some overtly religious subject must be the focus. I would much prefer, however, that you attend a religious service or festival. No matter where you decide to go, the location/event should first be approved by me. I want to know when and where you plan to go. If your intended destination is not first approved, you will not receive credit. When you go, you need to have at least one picture of yourself at the location/event. If this poses some difficulty to you, then you need to obtain literature/handouts from the event and have an organizational leader sign that paperwork. The goal of a reflection paper is different than the research paper. A research paper is objective in nature. You will have a thesis statement that you have arrived at as a result of research, and the entirety of your paper will support this thesis statement. No personal opinion or “I statements” should appear in your research paper. A reflection paper, by contrast, is an opinion paper. In a reflection paper, the content is subjective and you are to reflect, in an educated manner, on the even you have experienced. You will need to do some amount of research on the event or background of the group you have visited. This research may
  6. 6. be conducted either prior to the event or following the event. It is not advisable to write a reflection paper without having done any research on the group being profiled. 4. The Blackboard discussions will not be graded for content, only in that they were completed according to instructions. Each discussion is worth a maximum of one point for in-person class, two points for online class. You are required to participate in at least eight for the in-person class, ten for the online class. The purpose of the discussions is that you share your honest reactions, thoughts, feelings, questions, ideas, etc. regarding what you are learning. I would like a minimum of three paragraphs to two pages for every religion we explore. In your discussions you are allowed to be totally honest and opinionated (within respectful limits, of course). I want you to really think about the subject matter. Contrary to popular opinion, all religions are not alike. Do not regurgitate information/repeat factual statements. Use appropriate spelling/grammar. Breakdown (In-Person Class): 12 points=Participation/Attendance 8 points (1 x 8)=Discussions 50 points (10 x 5)=Exams 10 points=Research Paper 10 points=Reflection Paper 10 points=Presentation Breakdown (Online Class): 20 points (10 x 2)=Discussions 50 points (10 x 5)=Exams 15 points=Research Paper 15 points=Reflection Paper ↓ Total=100 possible points, excluding extra credit To figure out your grade, simply add up your points. College’s grading system (as of Fall 2012): 93–100 = A (there is no A+) 90–92 = A87–89 = B+ 83–86 = B 80–82 = B77–79 = C+ 70–76 = C (there is no C-) 60–69 = D 59+below = F Help is available: ME: Please do not hesitate to contact me if you are having any difficulties whatsoever. My
  7. 7. email address is: You should also be able to find me through our course website,, where updates, suggested resources, and my contact information are located. Lastly, don’t forget my phone number if you need me immediately: 365-0124. TUTORING: For tutoring, check out the college's various tutoring services: In addition, student support services offers resources: SPECIAL NEEDS & ASSISTANCE: If you have any special needs, you should not hesitate to contact counseling services. You might also consider contacting DSS, Disability Support Services. If this is your first "classroom" experience (if you have been homeschooled), if you have a learning difference of any kind, or if you have previously had an IEP you may feel free to speak with me. I encourage you to avail yourself of whatever helps the school can offer you. Citation: We will be using the APA method of citation for this course. APA is what is typically used in the social sciences. Please do not mix styles. No MLA, please.Here are some useful links to help you navigate APA style: ♱ Wikipedia: ☪ Cornell University: ☯ Citation Machine: ✠ APA: ☧Purdue: ☬ Citefast: ☸ Citation Producer: Plagiarism/Cheating: Plagiarism is very easy to do, but it is also extremely easy to catch. If plagiarism is detected, please be advised that it will result in a “0” grade. No exceptions. Be very careful when writing a paper that you use your own words as much
  8. 8. as possible. Just changing around a few words or citing your sources is not enough. A paper needs to be constructed from the bottom up and be completely original. Excessive quoting should be avoided, but if you are quoting, you must show that by using a block quote or quotation marks and by citing the source. Honesty is expected. IF YOU DON’T KNOW HOW TO WRITE A PAPER PLEASE LET ME KNOW SO I CAN HELP YOU OR PUT YOU IN CONTACT WITH THE WRITING LAB. Computers & Cells: Computers are not allowed during class or any in-class exams. Cell phones must be turned off and put away during class. They should not visible or used. You will be warned only once before losing your participation grade. If the cell phone continues to be used, you will not be permitted to complete any extra credit. If you have an emergency, please let me know. Only in the case of a substantiated family emergency may a cell phone be left on and even then, it must be on “vibrate” or “silent” mode. Emergency phone calls must be placed or received outside the classroom. I require that, during exams, all cell phones be placed on my desk. Breaks: Since our class is so long, we will usually have one fifteen minute (or so) break per class period. Food & Drink: The college’s official policy is that no food or drink is permitted in the classroom. Perspective: We all come to this class with life experience, some of us with our own religious and cultural background and ideas. That's ok. We shouldn't expect to be completely objective in our evaluation of religions. This is not a math class. However we should still strive for a fair and balanced appreciation of interesting aspects found within each. If nothing else, this course should help you understand the world and maybe your neighbors a little bit better. Hopefully you’ll learn something new (or, in many cases, something old). Missed Paper/Assignment Turn-In: If you need more time to complete an assignment, you need to contact me a couple days prior to the date it is due. I will assess your situation and determine if an extension is warranted. If you are unprepared for your presentation/paper, you will receive a “0” grade. “Sob
  9. 9. stories” are evaluated on a case-by-case basis and must be substantiated. Research Resources: Please, please make use of the library. ACCC has a library and your local municipality has a library as well. Stockton's library, as far as I know, is also available to outside use, as I've used it in the past. You may use the internet since it is of tremendous value when it comes to the subject matter, but you must be extremely careful what you use for our course. Only reliable, academic sites are permitted for reference, unless the subject warrants otherwise. ASK me if you are unsure. Please refer to the course website for helpful suggestions. Not all links are academic resources. In addition, we now have the “Ask A Librarian” feature on Blackboard. Ellen Parker, college librarian, has kindly agreed to assist us in our research and related needs. Spring Semester 2014 CALENDAR: Calendar Notes: ☫ This calendar is subject to change, depending upon the progress of the course. ☸ It is important that you read the corresponding chapter(s) in the text in time for class. The online class will follow time-wise with my in-person class, so dates listed will be Mondays. ☬ Remember: Discussions on each religion are due after having completed that religion. ☦ For the in-person class, guest speakers, discussions, movies, etc. may throw off our schedule. Schedule updates will be mentioned during class and normally will be posted on the course website. ☯ Any extra credit assignments must be turned in in a timely manner. I will not accept items in bulk at the end of the semester. Mon. Jan. 27: First day of class. Review syllabus, including course requirements, grading, etc. For next class, be sure to have read Chapter 1: Introduction to the Study of Religion (General Concepts & Terms) and 2: Indigenous Religions. All discussions are due to me on Blackboard the week that world religion is covered in class or by the following week. I will NOT remind you of this each week. It's simply something that's automatically due. It is up to you to remember and to participate in discussions. In addition, please remember to explore each week the various links and movies that are of interest to you (see website and Blackboard for suggestions). Mon. Feb. 3: Everyone should have obtained a copy of the text by this date at the
  10. 10. latest and have read the first two chapters. You are responsible for reading the chapters each week. For this week, you should have read both Chapter 1 and Chapter 2: Indigenous Religions. You should also review the slideshow presentation for each world religion. They are available on the website, along with web links and movie/video suggestions. For next week, make sure to read Chapter 3: Hinduism. Mon. Feb. 10: By today, you should have read Chapter 3: Hinduism. For next class, read Chapter 4: Buddhism. Tues. Feb. 11: You may complete the first exams on Blackboard by this day (Chapter 1: General Concepts and 2: Indigenous). Mon. Feb. 17: For today, you need to bring me your written proposal for your personal field trip/reflection paper, including exact location and date. Use form: Today we will cover Chapter 4: Buddhism. For the next class, read Chapter 6: Taoism and Confucianism. (Yes, skip Chapter 5.) Tues. Feb. 18: You may complete the next exam on Blackboard by this day (Chapter 3: Hinduism). Mon. Feb. 24: We will likely still be covering Buddhism today, if we're on track! Catch up if you're behind on the reading. If we have already covered it thoroughly enough, we will move on to Taoism and Confucianism. Your research paper is due next week! If there is justifiable emergency-related reason that you will be unable to turn in your paper (or, for my in-person class, do your presentation) next week, you need to let me know TODAY or significantly beforehand, not next week. Tues. Feb. 25: You may complete the next exam on Blackboard by this day (Chapter 4: Buddhism). * For those in my in-person class, I strongly recommend you do NOT use a thumb drive or email yourself your presentation if you are putting together a slideshow. Please use Google Presentation (available on so that it is available to you anywhere, at any time. No, your presentation does not have to include a slideshow! You may use other more creative visual and audio aids. Mon. March 3: RESEARCH PAPER IS DUE TODAY!!! PRESENTATIONS BEGIN TODAY!!! (Presentations are for those in my in-person class only.) If you do not submit your paper, you will receive a "0." If you are not prepared to give your presentation today, you will receive a "0" for the presentation. It is unlikely that we will have time for
  11. 11. all presentations today, so if you do not give yours today, you must be prepared next week and the following week, etc. For next week, be sure to have read Chapter 7: Shinto. Mon. March 10: Presentations will be continued if we haven't finished up from last week. It is likely we will also cover Taoism and Confucianism today, or perhaps Shinto, so by today, you should have read Chapter 6: Taoism & Confucianism and Chapter 7: Shinto. Tues. March 11: You may complete the next two exams on Blackboard by this day (Taoism, Confucianism). Mon. March 17: School closed this week for Spring Break. St. Patrick’s Day. Reflection papers on personal field trips are due next week! Mon. March 24: Today we will begin Shinto. For next week, be sure to have read the first portion of Chapter 5: Jainism. Tues. March 25: You may complete the next exam on Blackboard by this day (Shinto). Reflection papers on personal field trips are due today (5-10 pages). Upload them to Blackboard. Mon. March 31: For today, you should have read the first half of Chapter 5: Jainism. If we have not completed our Shinto lesson, we will hopefully wrap that up today. If we have already finished up with Shinto, we will begin Jainism. For next week, read the second portion of Chapter 5: Sikhism. Tuesday Apr. 1: By today, you should have completed the exam on Jainism. Mon. Apr. 7: Today we discuss Sikhism, depending on our progress, so you should have already read the first half of Chapter 5: Jainism. You should have also read the second half of Chapter 5: Sikhism. This will be our last "eastern" religion. For next week, be sure to have read Chapter 8: Judaism. Tues. Apr. 8: By today, you should have completed the exam on Sikhism. Mon. Apr. 14: Passover. Today, we'll cover Judaism. This will be our first “western” religion. For next week, be sure to have read Chapter 9: Christianity. Please note that, after today, no further extra credit assignments will be accepted. Mon. Apr. 21: Easter Monday. Today we cover Christianity, so you should have read that chapter by now. For next week, be sure to have read Chapter 10: Islam. Also, please try to watch the documentary, Inside Mecca available free online. Find link to Top Documentary Films and The discussions left open (Christianity, Islam, Alternative) will close today. (You do not need to
  12. 12. have read the chapters on Christianity, Islam, or Alternative Religions in order to participate in discussions about them.) Tues. Apr. 22: By today, you should have completed the exam on Judaism. Mon. Apr. 28: Today we will discuss Islam. For next week, be sure to have read Chapter 11: Alternative Religions. In today's class, we will review and, if time permits, discuss Alternative Religions. At this point you are not required to read anything further in the text. Chapter 12 is optional. Tues. Apr. 29: By today, you should have completed the exam on Christianity. Mon. May 5: Today is the last day of class. Chances are, we may be behind and have things left to finish up. Tues. May. 6: The last remaining finals are on Islam, Alternative Religions, and the Cumulative final. You are only required to take ten of the exams. Anything extra is considered extra credit. Mon. May 12: Final Exam Week: TBA. If we need to come to class to finish up any unfinished work or exams, we will. Note: For all exams, I recommend preparing by reviewing the slideshow presentations, movies, videos, or links that interest you, and of course your notes from the text and class. The text itself is where about 99% of all semester’s exam questions come from. Additional Recommended Resources: I'm not sure how readily available these things will be at your library or elsewhere. Some of them I will bring into class for your perusal. Dye, J.M. (1980). Ways to Shiva. Philadelphia: Philadelphia Museum of Art. This is a beautifully illustrated book that brings to life the devotionalism implicit in the Hindu religion(s). See also Meeting God. Pickthall, M.M., trans, & El-Ashi, A. K., ed. (1999). The Meaning of the Glorious Qur'an. Beltsville: Amana Publications. This is the Qur'an. It is the translation recommended by one of my graduate instructors in Islam. It is called “The Meaning of” because the Qur'an is not considered able to be translated, as Arabic is the true language of the Qur'an. In this sense it is recognized that translations are always flawed since languages in and of themselves are worldviews. This version is the first translation into the English language by an Englishman who was also a Muslim. Fisher, M. P. (1994). Living Religions. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall.
  13. 13. This is a good alternate textbook on world religions and I recommend it. You may be able to find it used inexpensively online. It is a very good resource. Hammer, J. (1999). Chosen By God. New York: Hyperion. This is the interesting story from the perspective of a well-known journalist who was raised, along with his brother, a secular Jew. In the book he chronicles the journey of his relationship (or at times a lack thereof) with his brother, who becomes ultra-Orthodox. This story offers a glimpse into the world of the ultra-Orthodox and Joshua Hammer's opinion of it. Huyler, S. P. (1999). Meeting God: Elements of Hindu Devotion. New Haven: Yale University Press. This is a beautifully illustrated book that brings to life the devotionalism implicit in the Hindu religion(s). See also Ways to Shiva. Miller, T., ed. (1995). America's Alternative Religions. Albany: State University of New York. This excellent compilation of essays is a wonderful reference work for America's smaller religions. These days wikipedia might be helpful in this respect also. Smith, H. (1994). The Illustrated World's Religions: A Guide to Our Wisdom Traditions. San Francisco: Harper Collins.