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RELS 1020-02

Religions of the World

w/ Professor Burnidge @ 1 2-12:50PM on M/W/F in Lang 20
Email: Office: 1101 Bartlett Hall
Twitter: @burnidge Walk-In Office Hours: Mondays, 3:00-5:00PM
Calendar: Appointments: via calendar or by email request

If I went back to college today, I think I would probably major in comparative

religion, because that's how integrated it is in everything that we are working on
and deciding and thinking about in life today.
John Kerry, U.S. Secretary of State

This class exists to help you gain a basic working knowledge of several religious traditions.
Over the course of this semester we will study the major beliefs, devotional practices, figures,
institutions, and historical events shaping 10 religious traditions. By the end of the course, you
will know more about: Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Confucianism,
Daoism, Shinto, Sikhism, and the Unafilliated.

Religion shapes our world today in a variety of ways.

From our neighbors to news headlines, it is easy to see how
He who
important it is to understand of religions of the world. And
yet, while many of us might consider religion important to us,
knows one,
we probably dont know a whole lot about it outside of our knows none.
own beliefs and practices. This phenomenon is why Max
Muller, one of the first scholars of religion, said he who --Max Muller
knows one, knows none. We cant really say religion is important to us--or that we really
understand religion--until we know more than our own traditions and customs. In fact, it is
through the study of multiple religions and cultures that we can come to understand ourselves
and the world around us. In this course, we will do just that.

Course Learning Goals

By completing this course, I will... But, why is this a learning goal?

1. Understand the differences Learning about religion at UNI is different than learning about
between religious devotion & it at a religious institution (like a church, mosque, or
the secular,1 academic study of synagogue). You will study what those differences are and
religion. why they exist so you can be better prepared for the real
world and a variety of employers.

2. Improve my To understand our local communities and the world today, you
Religious Literacy 2 have to know a few things about religious groups. You will
work to develop a basic knowledge of 10 religious traditions.
It will help you think independently so you can live a richer
life and be a valuable employee.

3. Apply my religious literacy to Most employers rank critical reading, thinking, and writing
real world concerns using skills as the most desirable qualities in job candidates. As an
critical thinking & historical LAC course, this class will help you practice critical thinking
& problem solving by analyzing how religious change and
perspective.3 conflict influenced the world today.

Secular refers to that which is worldly or governed by temporal affairs. Secular spaces and concerns are typically
contrasted with religious spaces and concerns because religious spaces are believed to be governed by the supernatural or
other-worldly affairs. Religious officials are credentialed by a private, religious institution and secular officials are credentialed
by a public, secular institutions, like the government.
Religious literacy refers to ones level of knowledge and understanding about religion. Harvard Divinity School
explains that a religiously literate person holds a basic knowledge of religious traditions and has the ability to explore and discern
religion across time and place ( . Thats precisely what were working on
in this class.
Historical perspective refers to mindfulness about change over time and thinking about the past on its own terms
rather than thinking about the past to persuade others to follow certain beliefs or causes in the present.

How We Will Reach the Course Goals

In order to learn, you have to acquire new information. This will come primarily through the required
textbook, Esposito, Fasching, and Lewiss World Religions Today (5th Edition, 2015). All students are
expected to buy or rent a copy of this textbook. From time to time, material will be posted on eLearning.
PDFs, Podcasts, and other materials on eLearning are also required readings. Completing the required
readings and any other assigned homework will significantly enhance your learning and progress toward
reaching the learning goals. It is in your best interest to stay on top of the readings by reading alongside
the lecture schedule rather than skimming or cramming before the exams.

Required Textbook: John Esposito, et. al., World

Religions Today, 5th Edition (978-0-19-999959-0)

PDFs, Podcasts, & other materials posted on eLearning

or emailed to the class are also required readings.

It is OK if you dont completely get it before coming to class

(thats what Professor Burnidge here for!), but you are expected to
try to get it on your own first. By reading on your own,
completing assignments, and asking productive questions, you are
much more likely to do well. You do not need to always know
the right answer there may not even be one, single
answerbut you do need to participate in our conversations.
Throughout the course, Professor Burnidge will assess how well you are getting course material & how
thoroughly you are striving to get it through a variety of in-class and take-home assignments. These
should be taken seriously because they contribute to your final grade.

Guided Reflection Assignments

Guided Reflection Assignments are open-ended responses to course content that contribute to the first
Learning Goal. The purpose of these assignments is to get you thinking independently, empathetically,
and critically about religion from a secular, academic perspective. GRAs should be written from your
point of view as it is informed by course content and secular approach to studying religion. Because they
are linked to specific course content, GRA deadlines are listed on the Course Schedule. Five GRAs are
required; each student decides the remaining five to complete on their own. There are no make-ups for
missed GRAs and late submissions will not be accepted. If you miss or fail to complete a GRA, then you
should take advantage of the next opportunity until there are no more opportunities.

The top 10 Guided Reflection Assignments will contribute to a students final grade. Students will be
graded on their good faith effort toward critical, reflective learning; their application of academic
standards & course content; and the degree to which they completely answered the prompt. Students
either Pass or Fail the GRA. If students fail a GRA, then they can either revise and resubmit by the next
class meeting or complete a different GRA. It is your responsibility to make sure you pass 10 GRAs.
GRA grades will be posted on eLearning.

Religious Literacy Exams

Four Religious Literacy Exams assess your progress toward religious literacy through four units of
study: Religions of South Asia (Hinduism & Buddhism), Religions of the Middle East (Judaism,
Christianity, and Islam), Religions of East Asia (Confucianism, Daoism, Shinto, & the Unaffiliated), and

Religion in the World Today (Sikhism & Examples of Religious Nationalism). Your performance on these
exams will indicate your development toward the second learning goal. All Exams will be taken via
eLearning on students own time according to the Course Schedule. Make-ups and extensions are
considered on a case-by-case basis in advance of the exam deadline. There must be evidence of an
unusual or an emergency situation for Professor Burnidge to consider offering a make-up opportunity.

Having only 4 Exams can sound scary. It may seem like high stakes grading. This class, however,
values the process of learning. Most of the time, we get things wrong before we get things right. And
thats OK. Thats completely normal. Therefore, students who earned an 89% or less can earn back
credit on each question they missed if they submit an annotated exam within one week of exam grades
being made available. Annotations should include: a.) your corrected or revised answer, b.) where you
found the information necessary to revise your answer in the textbook and/or in the lecture materials, and
c.) one practical change to your learning process you will implement to prevent mistakes like this one (if
you think you cant do anything to prevent the kind of mistake made, then you should explain why you
think so and set up an appointment with Professor Burnidge to talk about it in person.)

Religious Literacy Team Project

This class values both a broad base of religious knowledge and the development of deeper knowledge
related to one religious tradition. To assess student development toward that goal, students will be divided
into small groups based on their interest in learning more about a particular tradition. Students will work
together over the course of the semester to produce & deliver a 10-minute public presentation and a
shared 5-page report aimed at raising the UNI communitys religious literacy about their assigned
group. Presentations will be delivered on campus in the penultimate week of class. Along the way, groups
will submit research plans, draft reports, rehearse their presentations and review their peers. Both the
process of development and final delivery will contribute to Report and Presentation grade. Each student
will be graded individually even though they worked in a team setting. Your performance will be an
indication of your development toward the third learning goal.

Final Exam
At the end of the semester, there will be a cumulative final exam to assess your development toward all
three learning goals. The final exam will also be administered via eLearning.

Attendance & Engagement

In this class, students are trusted to make their own decisions about attendance and engagement. If you
dont come to class, you lose an opportunity to learn. If you dont engage fully with course material--or
only engage with it in limited ways--you stifle your ability to well in the class.4 Its ultimately your
decision to be present & involved in the class. If unexpected circumstances disrupt your ability to learn
or to participate in the course, please contact Professor Burnidge as soon as you can. She will work with
you to develop a strategy for success given your new circumstances and/or she will connect you with
resources on campus that can best help you.

How We Will Assess and Evaluate Progress

Grades are a marker of your progress toward the learning goals, not a sign of who you are. How
you react to your grades is an indication of how you will handle constructive criticism on the job.
Learning how to handle feedback is a part of the learning process. Instances where you dont like your

For example, reading all the assigned material (rather than skipping the footnotes like this) will help you do well. To let Dr.
Burnidge know you were reading carefully, send her an email with a high five gif to her UNI email address.

grade or are stressed about your progress is an opportunity to grow and develop. Professor Burnidge cant
help you improve unless you let her know about these moments. So, when this happens, you should set up
a 1-on-1 meeting with Professor Burnidge so she can help you strategize how to improve.

In this way, Professor Burnidge will be like a coach. She will cheer you on and encourage you as you
strive to better yourself. She will also correct your mistakes and give advice for improvement. Ultimately,
your sustained effort is what makes the difference in your success. And make no mistake: learning
requires effort. It requires intellectual sweat. Real mental exertion--like physical exertion--is difficult
and even painful. You might not want to do it, or you might want to only do the bare minimum rather than
attempt to do your best. But thats where your coach comes in. Professor Burnidge will evaluate your
progress and push you when necessary so that you will be better than when you started. The entire
purpose is for you to be different than when you arrived on first day of classto know more and to think
in new ways. When we work together, this is more likely to happen.

Student learning will be assessed throughout the semester through a variety of methods. Assessment
rubrics for each assignment can be found on eLearning. Final Grades will be determined by your
progress toward the three learning goals as assessed through the above assignments. They are weighted as

Guided Reflection 30%

Religious Literacy Exams 30%
Religious Literacy Team Project 30%
Final Exam 10%

Final Grades will be based on your weighted overall score. The rubric on the next page will be used to
determine your Final Letter Grade. It already factors in rounding scores to the nearest integer (0.5 and
above rounds up and 0.4 and below rounds down).

Final Letter Grade Rubric

As A- A
89.5-92.4% 92.5-100%

Bs B- B B+
79.5-82.4% 82.5-86.4% 86.5-89.4%

Cs C- C C+
69.5-72.4% 72.4-76.4 76.5-79.4%

Ds D- D D+
59.5-62.4% 62.5-66.4% 66.5-69.4%

Campus Resources
Success does not happen all on our own. It requires building relationships and working with other
people. It means asking for help or assistance along the way towards your goals. At university, you

are fortunate enough to have entire departments and centers--and millions of tax-supported
monies--devoted to helping you be successful.

Professor Burnidge
As the instructor for this class, Professor Burnidge should be your first stop when seeking help. Since she
designed the class, created the assignments, and assesses your progress, shes likely to be the best person
to answer your questions about assignments, course content, and assessment. You can reach her via email
at and in person at 1101 Bartlett Hall. Regular, walk-in office hours are
Mondays 3-5:00PM. All other in-person meetings must be made by appointment. Y ou can see her
availability on her calendar, here: If there is a time that works, add yourself to
her schedule by clicking a Student Meeting box. If there is not a time that works, send her an email with
2 or 3 options that do work for you so we can find a mutually agreeable time.5

Academic Learning Center

For help beyond your Instructor on any assignments, the Academic Learning Center provides free
assistance with writing, math, science, college reading, and learning strategies. UNIs Academic Learning
Center is located in 008 ITTC. You can visit the website at or call
319-273-2361 for more information and to set up an appointment.

Student Disability Services

Those interested in accommodations based on disabilities should visit the Student Disability Services
office (SDS). SDS is located on the top floor of the Student Health Center, Room 103 (phone
319-273-2677, for deaf or hard of hearing, use Relay 711). Students in need of accommodation should
obtain a Student Academic Accommodation Request (SAAR) form from SDS. Once Professor Burnidge
receives a SAAR, she will work with you to modify the learning environment.

UNI Counseling Center

The UNI Counseling Center promotes personal development and psychological well-being. All
appointments are confidential with a trained counselor. Currently UNI Students who have paid the
mandatory health fee are eligible for Counseling Center services. The Counseling Center is located at 103
Student Health Center. You can visit the website at or call 319-273-2676
for more information or to schedule an appointment.

For a full list of student resources see:

Syllabus & Course Schedule Changes

This syllabus and the Course Schedule may be subject to change based on expected circumstances or the
classs progress toward the learning goals. When there is a change, Professor Burnidge will notify
students via their UNI email account. It is each students responsibility to check this account regularly
and/or set up their notifications and alerts. There will be no make-ups or special treatment for students
who missed updated deadlines or assignments when updates were emailed to the class and/or posted on
eLearning in advance.

If you successfully schedule a meeting with her through this process in the first four weeks of classes, then you can earn GRA
credit for your meeting. I look forward to getting the chance to talk to you one-on-one!