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World Religions/Religious Worlds
Introduces religion in India, China and Japan; also the movements of Judaism, Christianity, Islam and Humanism.
Welcome to Religion 131, World Religions/Religious Worlds. In this introductory online religious studies course, I will present some of the global world religions to you, with the expectation that you will use these building blocks as the foundation for later, more specialized research into religions, philosophy, anthropology, science, politics--really, the list is endless!
There are certain things that this course isn’t, so let’s get that out of the way first. This course is not a complete and thorough history of all world religions. This is only one course and we must work within the limits of time and space. I will present to you a sampling of religious traditions, all of which contribute to that larger category of world religions, and hope that by introducing the history, beliefs, and practices of some of these traditions that you will be prepared to study the global world in a more critical and expanded way.
This course is also not a place for personal religious reflection. While I encourage you to take the material from the lecture notes, readings, or discussion groups and apply it to other areas of your life (because isn’t that in part what an education is supposed to do?), the goal of this course is to introduce the academic study of world religions. To this end I request that you do not use your assignments or discussion groups as a place to engage in personal religious dialogue.
So what is this course? It is a way for you to become familiar with Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. You will be introduced to each of these religions through their history, literature, world views, and ritual lives. You will gather information on each religion’s past and present, as we consider each of these traditions as histories and as lived traditions (which means that religions are made up of more than the ancient texts that we sometimes find at their centre). We take this time to encounter these world religions, because we live in a global world populated by millions of people whose world views are often informed by these very religions. We engage in the study of religion because we want to see the world with bigger eyes.
|Contemporary Issue (Podcast) Reflection||10%|
|Essay Assignment 1||15%|
|Essay Assignment 2||20%|
|Final Take-Home Exam||35%|
Group Discussions 20%
Participating in a discussion group brings depth to an online course. Just as smaller tutorial sessions help students work through questions and ideas in a traditional classroom, online discussion groups offer students a place to review and challenge the course material in a less formal context than a research paper or final exam question. While I expect your questions and comments to be careful, professional, and relevant, as I would in any tutorial, you can use this space to test out ideas, receive feedback, or simply to clarify your own understanding.
Beginning the first week of class, you will be separated into groups of 12-15 students. Everyone is expected to contribute to your discussion group. Each week, every student will post one question or comment and respond to another student’s question or comment (so at the very least there will be 12-15 separate initial questions or comments in each group every week). This is the bare minimum expected, but I encourage you to post more frequently, as this will only increase the value of these conversations. Your grade, however, is made up of more than the quantity of your posts, but also the quality (see below). Each week I will monitor both the number of posts you submit and consider the content of these posts, and I will provide regular feedback to you in the form of my own responses. These discussion group posts account for 20% of your final grade.
What makes a quality post? Whether you are posing a question or commenting on someone else’s post, your aim should be to show me (and your colleagues) that:
- you’ve done the required reading
- you’ve made an attempt to understanding and contextualize the material
- you’re engaged with some of the course’s larger themes and questions
I encourage you to take notes while doing the course reading, keeping in mind some possible questions that you can bring to your group. Your questions and comments can interrogate a particular detail in your reading or connect the material with something you’ve learned elsewhere (e.g., another course, news, literature).
One final note:You are expected to treat this online community as you would a traditional classroom. Please use the utmost respect in your dealings with you colleagues in the class. Anything other than respectful discussion will not be tolerated. Also, this is not a forum to compare personal religious beliefs. This forum is an extension of our academic study of world religions and I ask that we focus our efforts to this end. While the material we cover might raise some questions of a more personal nature, this is not the best place for such a discussion. I encourage you to contact me if you have concerns about this policy, and I hope that you will enjoy learning about the diverse traditions around the world.
Essay Assignments 35%
In this course you will submit two essay assignments. In these assignments you are responsible for showing me that
- you have understood the course material and readings,
- you are able to synthesize that material into a focused response to the question
- you can communicate your ideas clearly.
This means that I expect you not only to understand the content of the course material, but that you also make an effort to consider some of the larger themes of the course and present your answers in a clear, well-edited document. For these essay assignments you will be given one question to answer and a few specific sources to consider (usually an article or book chapter). Alongside the regular course material, you will use these sources as the foundation of your response. You are encouraged, though not required, to use additional sources that you find yourself.
- submitted by the deadline
- 5-6 pages
- 12-point font; regular margins
- title page with name, student number, and course details
- complete bibliography (in addition to notes or footnotes within the text of your essay-see below)
You are expected to consistently note your sources throughout your essay. To this end you may use either the MLA style guidelines or the Chicago Manual of Style to document your sources. Please see Guide to Documenting your Sources on the course website.
Your assignments are due on the prescribed due dates. If you choose to submit your assignment late there will be a late penalty. Assignments submitted more than five days late will receive an automatic zero. If you must submit an assignment late because of a medical emergency, late marks will not be deducted. You must, however, submit documentation from a doctor or hospital. There will be no exceptions.
Introduction to Studying World Religions
Religions of India
Religions of India
Dharma & Moksha
Discipline, Action & Devotion
Introduction, Objectives, Readings
Vajrayana, Tibetan and Western Buddhism
Religions of China
Introduction, Readings, Objectives
Introduction, Objectives, Readings Biblical Judaism
Judaism in Modernity
Judaism: In practice
Introduction, Objectives, Readings
Jesus and the Early Church
The Roman Empire, and the Orthodox Church
Protestant Reformation and Global Christianity
Contemporary Christian Practices
Introduction, Objectives, Readings
Life of Muhammad and Foundations of Islam
Islam and Modernity
Textbooks and Materials
CDS reserves the right to make changes to the required material list as received by the instructor before the course starts. Please refer to the Campus Bookstore website at http://www.campusbookstore.com/Textbooks/SearchEngine/ to obtain the most up-to-date list of required materials for this course before purchasing them.
The following materials are required for the course and can be purchased in person or online through the Campus Bookstore.
- Fisher, Mary Pat. Living Religions, 8th edition. This is the same text used recently in the regular session Rels 131 and you might be able to find used copies available for purchase. You are also welcome to use an older edition.
- Course Reading Pack
To complete the readings, assignments, and course activities, students can expect to spend, on average, about 10 - 12 hours per week on the course.
Moodle is Queen's online learning platform. You'll log into Moodle to access your course. All materials related to your course—notes, readings, videos, recordings, discussion forums, assignments, quizzes, groupwork, tutorials, and help—will be on the Moodle site.
About Credit Units
Queen’s courses are weighted in credit units. A typical one-term course is worth 3.0 units, and a typical two-term course is worth 6.0 units. You combine these units to create your degree. A general (three-year) BA requires a total of 90 credit units.
To take an online course, you’ll need a good-quality computer (Windows XP/Vista/7, Pentium III, or Mac OS X 10.5, G4 or G5 processor, 256 MB RAM) with a high-speed internet connection, soundcard, speakers, and microphone, and up-to-date versions of free software (Explorer/Firefox, Java, Flash, Adobe Reader). See also Preparing For Your Course.
The deadlines for new applications to Queen’s are 1 April (for May summer term), 1 June (for July summer term), 1 August (for fall term), and 1 December (for winter term). All documents must be received by the 15th of the month following the deadline. You can register for a course up to one week after the start of the course. See also Dates and Deadlines.
Tuition fees vary depending when you start, your year, faculty, and program. Fees for 2013-14 first-year Distance Career Arts & Science Canadian students are as follows: for a 3.0-unit course, $597.70; for a 6.0-unit course, $1195.40. See also Tuition and Payment.
All textbooks can be purchased at Queen’s Campus Bookstore.
All Queen’s Arts and Science Online courses are open to students at other universities. Before applying as a visiting student, request a Letter of Permission from your home university that states that you have permission to take the course and apply it to your degree. See also Apply.
Please see Queen’s policy statement on academic integrity for information on how to complete an online course honestly.