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Syllabus: World Religions (RELS-211), Ursinus College, as taught Spring 2008

Syllabus: World Religions (RELS-211), Ursinus College, as taught Spring 2008

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Published by: Nathan Rein on Aug 12, 2008
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World Religions
Spring 2008Instructor: ____________  T,TH 10-11:15 a.m. Office: Kaleidoscope 218Office Hours: Tuesday, 12-2 (2-4 by appt.)Contact Info.: Office ext. 2321.2E-mail—  _______________ 
Course Introduction:
Thirty-five years ago, it was a popular academic theme to speculate about the death of religion. The world was becoming increasingly secular, and it was thought that sciencewas to offer a better means of explaining the universe than a resort to age-old religious beliefs and practices. Today, it has become increasingly clear that religion across theglobe has, in fact, not abated. Indeed, it appears to have experienced a recent globalresurgence, playing a much greater role in world affairs than was anticipated. At thesame time, religious diversity has increased dramatically. Cities and towns all across theUnited States, for example, contain a bewildering degree of religious diversity. In theU.S., it can no longer be taken for granted that one’s neighbor is Catholic, Protestant, or Jewish.In light of such religious diversity (and the important role religion plays in global affairs),it is irresponsible of thoughtful world citizens not to have a basic knowledge of theworld’s major religious traditions. This course seeks to expand one’s understandings of the five major world religions.
Course Objectives:
By the end of the course, you will:1.have a basic knowledge of the history and normative concepts of the fivetraditions we are discussing (Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, andHinduism);2.be able to discern how such concepts manifest themselves in observable religious practices;3.have some understanding of the challenge to religion which modernity has posed;4.think about how religious people interact with each other and what similaritiesand differences exist among religious people;5.be able to analyze religious texts and write about them critically. Note: This course satisfies the Ursinus Core Curriculum requirement for a
” (globaldiversity) course.
Assignments (the due dates for the assignments appear on the calendar below):
Formal Papers (3)
should be 5-6 pages each, 12 point font, and double-spaced. Youwill be given the topics for these papers a little more than a week before they are due.
Quizzes (5):
There will be a quiz on the basic background and concepts at the end of each tradition discussed.
Informal Writing (3):
There will be three informal writing assignments of 2 pages (12 point font, double spaced) each. These will not be graded with a letter grade, but will be given a check +, check, or check -. There will be no topic given for theseassignments. The student should engage the texts we will be reading. The assignmentshould be broken up into two paragraphs. The first paragraph should summarizesomething in the readings which you found interesting, and the second paragraphshould offer your own critical thoughts on this. These assignments can be handed in atany time, but there can be only one handed in per unit. (The course consists of sixunits).
Class Attendance:
Attendance will be taken at every class, and failure to attend classwill be reflected in your participation grade. Four or more unexcused absences mayresult in a warning slip. Six or more unexcused absences may result in an “F” for thecourse.
Class Participation:
Enlightened participation is expected during class sessions, and isa significant portion of the final grade. Of course, this means that keeping up with thereadings is critical!
Grading:Formal Papers50%Quizzes 25%Informal Writing & Class Participation 25%Other Course Activities:
There will be a few out-of-class activities. Participation is hoped for at these events, butis not mandatory. I will try to arrange one or two field trips to religious centers, and oneor two movies with themes relevant to the course.
Reading List:
The following books have been ordered for purchase at the Ursinus bookstore. Theyshould all be available through on-line retailers, as well, if you prefer.Endo, Sushako.
 Deep River.
New York: New Directions, 2002, ISBN: 081121320X.Esack, Farid.
On Being a Muslim.
Oxford: Oneworld Publishing, 1999,ISBN: 1851681469.Esposito, John, et al.
World Religions Today.
Second Ed.
, New York: OxfordUniversity Press, ISBN: 0195176995.
Heschel, Abraham Joshua.
The Sabbath: Its Meaning for Modern Man.
New York: Noonday Press, 1996, ISBN: 0374512671.Lamott, Anne.
Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith.
New York: Anchor Books,1999, ISBN: 0385496095.Hanh, Thich Nhat.
 Being Peace.
Berkeley, CA: Parallax Press, 1988,
ISBN:0938077007.There will also be other readings which will be placed on reserve at the library.
Written Work: You must submit all written work in order to receive a passing grade for the class. Formal written assignments will be penalized a one grade-step (B+ to B) for each day they are late. If you need an extension, you must work this out with me well prior to the due date. Informal written assignments must be handed in by the last day of class that we are covering that unit or will not be counted.Academic Honesty: Plagiarism is a serious offense and will not be tolerated. Any timeyou draw on someone else’s work—either directly (quoting) or indirectly (using their ideas)—you must cite it. Parenthetical citations (MLA style) or footnotes are bothacceptable. Please contact me with any questions regarding the proper use of sourcematerial. Plagiarism can result in the following: expulsion from school, a failing gradefor the course, or, at best, a guaranteed failing grade for the assignment.Inclement Weather Notification: Normally, the College is open regardless of weather conditions. In the event that I cannot make it to class because of driving conditions, Iwill notify everyone via e-mail.
Class Schedule: Readings and AssignmentsPlease complete the assigned reading by the date listed.Schedule is tentative and will likely be revised.Unit One: What is Religion? Assignments Due
T 1/22 Welcome and Introduction to the CourseTh 1/24 WRT, Chapter 1T 1/29 Endo,
 Deep River 
, chs. 1-3.Th 1/31 Endo,
 Deep River,
chs. 4-7.

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