Introduction to World Religions
Florida State University
REL1300, Section 4 (#06765), Spring 2012
Sandels Building, room #0101, TR 11:00 – 12:15 PM
Syllabus version 1.0
Instructor: John L. Crow
Office: DOD 206
Email Address: firstname.lastname@example.org (emails answered within 24-48 hours)
Office Hours: Tuesdays & Thursdays 12:30 PM- 1:30 PM
Welcome to World Religions (REL1300)
Welcome to World Religions (REL1300). In this class we will explore and engage the history and religious beliefs and practices of numerous cultures around the world over a vast time span. The class will give you an opportunity to survey the variety of ways humanity has come to know and interact with the divine. It will also give you a broad exposure to varying worldviews that have influenced the ways people live their lives and interact with each other. This class will discuss the indigenous religions of Africa and North America, Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Daoism, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and Sikhism. We will examine the beliefs, texts and practices within the framework of historical and cultural development. This course focuses particular attention on the cultural and historical aspects of religion.
Gordon Rule Course
This is a Gordon Rule course, and also counts for Liberal Studies area IV and Multicultural Studies “X.” In order to fulfill FSU’s Gordon Rule, the student must earn at least a “C-” in the course, and in order to receive such grade, the student must earn at least a “C-” on the required writing assignments. If a student does not earn a minimum of “C-” on the writing assignments, he or she cannot earn an overall grade of “C-” or better for the course, no matter how well the student performs in the rest of the course. Thus you must turn in every essay. If you do not, you will not pass the course.
Textbook, Software, Additional Required Materials
Primary Text: Noss, David S. and Blake R. Grangaard, A History of the World’s Religions, 13th Edition (Pearson 2012).
Supplemental Texts: All additional reading will be uploaded to Blackboard in PDF format.
NOTE: Reading assignments should be completed before the start of the class day listed.
The subjects for class discussion along with the reading assignments from A History of the World’s Religions will be structured as follows.
1. Introduction and Overview
2. What is the Academic study of Religion and Why?
3. Geography, Maps and Characteristics of Primitive Religions
4. Native American Traditions
5. Native & Diasporic African Traditions
9. Chinese Religions
I am enthusiastic about the study of religion. I consider it my responsibility to impart that enthusiasm to the student. It is also my responsibility to create an environment of learning that balances the level of information stated in lectures, materials read individually, and discussions held as a class. Most classes will take a traditional lecture format, though there will be many opportunities for discussion. There will also be a noticeable emphasis on critical thinking in the forms of speaking and writing. Students will benefit most from the class if they read all assigned materials, take extensive notes and pause frequently to think about what they have learned in class on a more general level to make connections. Each religious tradition does not emerge in isolation. It is important to make connections between each of them and the historical and cultural environment in which they arose.
Students are expected to communicate in a civil manner in all interactions at all times, both in and out of the classroom. This means that interactions are to be carried out in a polite, courteous and dignified manner. Class discussion should be respectful and understanding towards both peers and the instructor.
The academic study of religion focuses on analysis, understanding and explanation. It does not seek to persuade persons to join any particular religious group or convert to any other religion. Students may not proselytize in class. Recitations from religious scriptures offered as “proof” of views of other religions (e.g., “Group X is inferior because it says in this scripture that…”) are not constructive in the classroom and is not acceptable behavior.
Cell phones, beepers, watches, computers, and other devices that make noises are disruptive and not welcome in class. Turn off your cell phone when you enter class. Other disruptive practices include reading the newspaper or materials from other classes, texting, copying someone’s notes, etc. Have some courtesy for your classmates and the instructor. Engaging in these activities will also negatively affect your grade.
Putting on your coats, gathering your things and packing up to leave class is disruptive. Please do not do so until class is dismissed. If you need to leave class early, please do so as quietly as possible and sit near one of the doors. IN SUMMARY: STUDENTS SHOULD COME TO CLASS, ARRIVE ON TIME, POWER OFF THEIR CELL PHONE, ALWAYS BE COURTIOUS AND BE QUIET IF LEAVING EARLY!
The Academic Study of Religion
This course is organized within the principles of the academic examination of religion. This should not be confused with the theological approach to studying religion. Thus it is not appropriate to put your own personal religious opinions into your course work. This means in any discussion proselytizing is inappropriate as is condemning other religions based on personal religious views. In your writing, your personal opinions and religious beliefs should not be included unless the assignment calls for it. The academic study of a subject requires us to examine the topic of religion as objectively and dispassionately as possible. Including personal beliefs and opinions where they are not appropriate will negatively affect your grades.
Your course grade will be determined by a combination of factors which include quizzes, exams, papers, participation, and attendance. To satisfy the requirements of FSUand the State Board of Education Rule 6A-10.030 each student enrolled in REL 1300 must complete this course with a “C-” or better average and “demonstrate college-level writing skills through multiple assignments.” Thus if you fail to turn in an essay, those as part of the exams or separate essays, you will not pass the course. It is that simple. All quizzes will be given on Blackboard after the section is completed. Exams include an in-class portion and out-of-class portion. Papers must be turned in on time to receive full credit. You will be required to participate. Attendance is also required at all classes. More than four unexcused absences will negatively affect your grade.
All quizzes will be multiple choice/true & false and given on Blackboard. Generally, you have until the next class to complete the quiz. Once you start the quiz, you have 20 minutes to finish it. Please be careful not to close your web browser window during this time. Doing so will end the quiz. These quizzes are open book and open notes. As such, anything covered in the texts, class lectures, or discussions can and will show up on the quizzes. The questions are presented one at a time in randomized order and you cannot stop the quiz and re-take it later. There are no make-ups for missed online quizzes for any reason except computer problems (which are recorded and available to the instructor) and excused absences. If there are any technical problems, please email or see the class instructor immediately. Do not wait until the next class.
Over the time of the course there will two exams. The first covers the sections relating to eastern religions, the second to western religions. Each will only cover the respective section. The first exam contains an in-class portion and an out-of-class portion (i.e. an essay). The in-class portion will be a series of multiple choice, matching and short answer questions. This will be completed in class.
The out-of-class portion will consist of a 500 word essay due at the beginning of the next class. This will be a written response to one of three questions which will require analysis and thought regarding the material covered in the proceeding sections. The final exam will consist of multiple choice, matching, identification, short answer questions. There are no make-ups for missed exams for any reason except an excused absence.
Over the course of the class you will be required to write various papers. This is a writing intensive course. Failure to turn in any of the assigned essays will result in a final grade lower than C-. The details of each essay will be provided with the essay. In general, papers must contain a thesis, supporting paragraphs, a conclusion, and be formatted, documented and presented in MLA 2009 format or newer. Failure to follow these and the MLA instructions regarding format will lower your grade. It is important that you pay attention to details and can follow instructions. The papers not only test your writings and thinking, but also your ability to follow detailed instructions. Your paper must also cite academic sources. Searching Google for supporting material will not be acceptable. You will have to use the library’s resources. Don’t wait until the night before the essay is due! My experience is those who try this tend to score poorly. You will be required to hand in a printed and stapled version and submit the essay via SafeAssign anti-plagiarism software on Blackboard. Failure to do both will receive a zero grade for the essay. At the top of each essay, with your name, include a total word count.
When in class, you are expected to participate. At times this may mean simply paying attention to the lecture. During discussions you should feel comfortable answering questions or giving your opinion if appropriate. Using your phone or computer to chat, play games, or otherwise ignoring the class will be counted as if you are not participating. It can also result in a non-attendance notation. While it is legitimate to have your computer open to take notes, anyone caught abusing this privilege by playing games or viewing social networking websites, or otherwise ignoring the class will lose the right to use the computer to take notes. Laptop use is a luxury, not a necessity. Be mindful of this privilege. Lastly, participation counts towards your final grade and can make the difference between receiving one letter grade or another.
Understanding the material for the class requires attending class, thus it is mandatory. Attendance will be taken at the beginning of each class. If you miss more than four classes without an excuse, you will begin to incur a penalty. For each additional class after the initial four is 1 point off your final grade. Attendance also includes arriving on time and being settled before the class begins. Late attendance will be noted and every two late class entries equal an absence. If you do arrive late, you must see the instructor to have your late attendance noted or it will be considered an absence. You are responsible for the notes and material covered in classes that you miss, excused or unexcused. Do not ask the instructor for any class notes.
Excused absences include medically documented absences, those that result from the death of an immediate family member (you must show proof such as a copy of the death certificate, program from the funeral, etc.), military duty, court-mandated appearances, or religious holidays. Note: if the absence is because of military duty, court-mandated appearances, or a religious holiday, you must inform the instructor before the absence and not after. Also, if for some reason you will miss class for an extended period of time for a reason not covered above, it is still better to inform the instructor before missing the classes and there may be some flexibility regarding the penalty. However, coming to the instructor after the absence will not result in any flexibility.
If class is canceled for any reason, the schedule will continue with the next class. This means anything due on the day class was canceled will be due the next day of class. Similarly, if an exam is scheduled and class is canceled, be prepared to take the exam during the next class
Assignment and Grading Summary
10 Quizzes……………………………… 200
Out-of-Class Essay……………. 50
Final Exam…………………………….. 300
Essay #1: Introduction Essay………. 25
Essay #2: Review Essay…………….. 50
Essay #3: Topic Essay……………… 200
Essay #4: Summary Essay………….. 25
Final Grade = Total/10
93-100 = A
90-92 = A-
87-89 = B+
83-86 = B
80-82 = B-
77-79 = C+
73-76 = C
70-72 = C-
67-69 = D+
63-66 = D
60-62 = D-
59 & below = F
In order to ensure that each student’s work is graded in accordance with standards which apply to the entire class, a grading rubric will detail the assignment’s grade. If you have a question regarding a grade, you must meet with the instructor within two weeks after the work in question is graded. No exceptions will be made to this policy. If the exam or assignment is re-scored, the entire exam or project will be graded again. This means that your score may increase or decrease.
As the semester closes, students frequently ask for opportunities to earn extra credit to help improve their grades. Of course the best way to get a good grade is to do all the reading, attend class, study and do well on the Exams. Nevertheless, there will be an opportunity given for extra credit. Extra Credit can be earned by giving an in-class presentation. Two of the last classes are reserved for class presentations. If you wish you can boost your total points by twenty (20), the equivalent of one quiz, by giving a five minute class presentation about any subject relevant to world religions. Frequently students choose to present on the same subject they are writing their papers about. This presentation must occupy the entire five minutes and should not exceed five minutes and thirty seconds minutes. Presentation should also make judicial use of PowerPoint or other multimedia. The number of points awarded will be determined on factors such as topic organization, staying within time limit, presentation content quality, and demeanor. The number of presentation slots is limited. A signup sheet will be offered near the end of the term. All students can present and earn extra credit regardless of any perceived need. If you sign up for a presentation and then do not deliver one on the day assigned, there may be a penalty as your allocation denied the opportunity for another student to present. Only sign up if you plan to present. If you chose to back out, you must do so before the day of the presentation.
In this course you are expected to do your own work original to this class, and always to cite the work of others. Plagiarism is intellectual stealing—not giving credit where credit is due. Plagiarized papers (in whole or part) will cause you to receive an “F” in this course. Plagiarism is an academic violation defined in the FSU Academic Honor Code as “representing another’s work or any part thereof, be it published or unpublished, as one’s own.” It further states “Academic dishonesty (e.g., plagiarism, work unoriginal to the class) will result in a course grade of F”. (Florida State University Academic Policy: http://dof.fsu.edu/honorpolicy.htm)
Your paper will be considered plagiarized in part or entirely if you do any of the following:
- Submit a paper written by someone else.
- Submit a paper in which you “cut and paste” the exact words of a source and you do not put those words within quotation marks, use footnotes or in-text citations, and list that source in your bibliography/work cited.
- Submit a paper in which you use the ideas, metaphors, or reasoning style of another, but do not cite that source and include that source in your list of references. Remember: If you merely paraphrase what another has written, even though you’ve converted the ideas “into your own words”—it is still plagiarism if you do not cite the source of your ideas.
- Submit a paper that contains all or part of a paper you wrote for a different class.
Students understand and agree that by taking this course they will be required to submit their writing assignments to SafeAssign on Blackboard for plagiarism analysis.
Per Section 1006.53, Florida Statutes, the Florida State University policy on observance of religious holy days provides that students shall, upon notifying their instructor, be excused from class to observe a religious holy day of their faith. While students will be held responsible for the material covered in their absence, each student shall be permitted a reasonable amount of time to make up the work missed. Instructors and University administrators shall in no way arbitrarily penalize students who are absent from academic or social activities because of religious holy day observance. The student must inform the instructor of the absence before the holiday and absence.
FSU Disability Assistance
Students with disabilities who need academic accommodations should:
1. Register with and provide documentation to the Student Disability Resource Center (SDRC).
2. Bring a letter to the instructor from the SDRC indicating that you need academic accommodations. This should be done within the first week of class.
This syllabus and other class materials are available in alternative format upon request. For more information about services available to FSU students with disabilities, contact: email@example.com, Student Disability Resource Center, 97 Woodward Avenue, South, 108 Student Services Building, Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL 32306-4167, (850) 644-9566 (voice); (850) 644-8504 (TDD). See also: www.disabilitycenter.fsu.edu/
Syllabus Change Policy
This syllabus is a guide for the course and is subject to change. Most changes will be regarding the additional course readings, currently marked TBD. Please check occasionally to make sure you have the latest version of the syllabus. Each change will result is an increase in the version number on the front page and the running page header. You are responsible to make sure you have the most recent version of the syllabus.
Thursday, Jan 5, 2012: Introduction to Class (Mandatory Attendance)
No Blackboard Quiz this Week
Thursday, Jan 12, 2012: Geography & Primitive Religions
Reading: Chapter 1
No Blackboard Quiz this Week
Tuesday, Jan 17, 2012: Native American Traditions
Reading: Chapters 1 and 3 in Black Elk Speaks (PDF)
Essay #1 Due
Thursday, Jan 19, 2012: African & African Diasporic Traditions
Reading: Lefever, Harry G. “When the Saints Go Riding in: Santeria in Cuba and the United States” (PDF)
Quiz #1 on Native American & African Traditions becomes Available
Thursday, Jan 26, 2012: Hinduism, Part 3
Reading: Chapter 4
Quiz #2 on Hinduism becomes Available
Tuesday, Jan 31, 2012: Jainism
Reading: Chapter 5
Thursday, Feb 2, 2012: Buddhism
Reading: Chapter 6
Quiz #3 on Jainism becomes Available
Tuesday, Feb 7, 2012: Buddhism
Thursday, Feb 9, 2012: Buddhism & Violence*
Reading: Introduction to Buddhist Warfare, edited by Jerryson & Juergensmyer (PDF)
Essay #2 Due
Quiz #4 on Buddhism becomes Available
Thursday, Feb 16, 2012: Chinese Religious Traditions-Confucianism
Reading: Chapter 10
Quiz #5 on Chinese Religious Traditions becomes Available
Tuesday, Feb 21, 2012: Exam Review
Thursday, Feb 23, 2012: Exam
No Blackboard Quiz this Week
Tuesday, Feb 28, 2012: Monotheism and Zoroastrianism
Reading: Chapter 12
Exam Essay Due
Thursday, Mar 1, 2012: Judaism
Reading: Chapter 13
Quiz #6 on Zoroastrianism becomes Available
Tuesday, Mar 13, 2012: Judaism
Reading: Chapter 14
Thursday, Mar 15, 2012: Israeli & Palestinian Conflict*
Reading: a reading may be assigned.
Quiz #7 on Judaism becomes Available
Thursday, Mar 22, 2012: Christianity (part 3)
Reading: Chapter 16
No Blackboard Quiz this Week
Tuesday, Mar 27, 2012: Christian Terrorism?*
Reading: “Is Breivik a Christian Terrorist?” by Juergensmeyer (PDF)
Thursday, Mar 29, 2012: Islam
Reading: Chapter 17
Essay #3 Due
Quiz #8 on Christianity becomes Available
Tuesday, Apr 3, 2012: Islam
Reading: Chapter 18
Essay #4 Distributed
Thursday, Apr 5, 2012: Issues of Gender within Islam*
Reading: a reading may be assigned.
Quiz #9 on Islam becomes Available
Tuesday, Apr 10, 2012: Sikhism
Reading: Chapter 8
Thursday, Apr 12, 2012: Presentations
Essay #4 Due
Quiz #10 on Sikhism becomes Available
Tuesday, Apr 17, 2012: Presentations
Thursday, Apr 19, 2012: Exam Review
No Blackboard Quiz this Week
Final Exam: Monday, April 23, 2012, 5:30 – 7:30 PM, SAN 0101
* Indicate classes where a significant portion of the class will be devoted to discussion of the specified topic.