LIBERAL STUDIES 130: INTRODUCTION TO WORLD RELIGION -- ON-LINE EDITION


North Island College, Fall 2017

Delivery Format:  On-Line (Note that there is also a face-to-face version of this course M, W 2:30 -3:50 pm on the CVC campus of NIC that meets in TTB 101.  You are welcome to show up at this class in-person at any time throughout the semester)

Instructor: Dan Hinman-Smith

Office:  Village G6

Office Hours:  T-Th 1:00 - 2:00 pm (or by appointment)

Office Phone: 250-334-5000, Extension 4024

Home Phone:   250-336-0238

Web-Site: http://www.misterdann.com/

E-Mail: dan.hinmansmith@nic.bc.ca


Course Description

This course is designed as an introduction to the world's major religions, with an emphasis upon those of the Abrahamic tradition: Judaism, Christianity and Islam.  It combines an in-depth focus upon these three individual living faiths with study of the different scholarly approaches to understanding religion.


My Assumptions About This Course

That you are interested in world religion and eager to learn as much about it as possible in this course.

That it will be impossible to learn all that you would like to learn given the massive amount of relevant material and the time constraints involved.

That my job as instructor is to strike an appropriate balance between providing a common core curriculum and setting up structures that also allow you to study materials of personal interest.

That this course should help to set you up for future formal or informal study of world religion rather than being a survey that teaches you "all that you need to know."

That on-line learning presents both opportunities and challenges.  In the case of the former, students are often provided not just with more flexibility than is the case with face-to-face delivery, but with the invitation to become more active co-designers of the curriculum.  In the case of the latter, students are faced with the challenge of both establishing and then following their own disciplinary rhythms, while students and instructor alike often struggle to create a learning community.  There needs to be sustained effort by all involved to promote the sense of connection.


Books

Crumb, Robert.  Book of Genesis.  New York: W.W. Norton, 2009.

DK Publishing.  Illustrated Bible Story By Story.  New York: 2012.

Power, Carla.  If Oceans Were Ink: An Unlikely Friendship And A Journey To The Heart Of The Qur'an.  New York: Holt, 2015.

Khalidi, Tarif, trans.  Qur'an.  New York: Penguin, 2009.

Optional Textbook:  I have decided not to have a required textbook in LIB 130.  We will be using a concise basic introductory BBC web-site as one substitute.  However, if you would like a printed volume for your own reference, I would recommend any of the following as possibilities:

Oxtoby, Willard G. and Hussain, Amir, eds.  World Religions: Western Traditions.  New York: Oxford, 2010.

Cohn-Sherbok, Dan.  Illustrated Guide To Judaism.  New York: Lorenz Books, 2013.

Jordan, Michael.  Islam: An Illustrated History.  London: Carlton, 2002.

Bokhari, Raana, et a.  Illustrated Encyclopedia Of Islam.  New York: Lorenz Books. 2009.

Isbouts, Jean-Pierre.  Story Of ChristianityNew York: National Geographic, 2014.

 

The Teaching Company has a 30-hour Great Courses lecture series, "The Great World Religions," that is available from the North Island College library.  It features superb six-hour introductions to five major faiths, including the three featured in this course.


Tentative Class Schedule

WEEK 1 (September 11-17):  Of God And Abraham

Orientation For The Week

The focus this week will be on the figure of Abraham, a character who has a very prominent role in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam alike.  One goal of the course will be to provide you with basic introductions to each of those three major world religions.  A core theme throughout, however, will be to explore the complex relationships between those religions.  Before moving in Week 4 into a study of the first of those religions chronologically (Judaism), we will begin the course with a preliminary discussion of the connections and distinctions between those religions that are described as within the Abrahamic tradition.

Your responsibilities for the week are the following:

1)  Spend some time carefully browsing through the syllabus to get a feel for the course structure and rhythms.  Browse in the overall course web-site as well, with a particular focus on the Journal section and the Discussion Topics section.  Note that I have included a link to the NIC Learn Discussion Forum site as well (you can also reach that through MyNIC).  I appreciate that there is a great deal of material on the web-site.  It is intended as a major resource and you will only be asked to access a small portion of what is listed there.

2)  Write me a short Letter Of Introduction/Reflections On Entering The Course.  E-mail that to me, ideally by Monday, September 11th.  I invite you to post a copy or a shortened version of that on the Discussion Forum in an early effort to connect with your classmates.

3)  Immerse yourself in matters Abrahamic.  I have posted many on-line resources associated with the role Abraham and Abrahamic stories play within Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.  Spend at least an hour or two accessing a few of these sources.  Try to begin to identify some of the aspects of these stories that you find to most interesting.  I have highlighted one audio documentary about Abraham below.  The American Bruce Feiler embarked on an interfaith exploration of Abraham motivated by the question "Can Abraham save the world?" in the immediate aftermath of the September 11, 2001 bombings.  I recommend that you consider writing a Journal entry (1+ pages).  There is no time deadline for that.  Note:  this first Discussion Topic metaphorically throws you into the deep end.  I do want you to explore material related to Abraham, but I do not expect you to sort out the his meanings within the Abrahamic tradition.  Rather, I want us to approach complex ideas through a common symbol, and to highlight the wonderful, mind-blowing, and sometimes overwhelming layered nature of world religions from the course's start.

Discussion Forum

Of God And Abraham

Reading Assignment

Browse extensively in  Of God And Abraham  Discussion Topic.

Listening And Viewing

Bruce Feiler, "Children Of Abraham," On Being, APR, April 4, 2003.  To listen to the broadcast click on the Play Episode or Download Episode icons in the right margin.


WEEK 2 (September 18-24):  Entering Sacred Space -- Jerusalem

Orientation For The Week

Last week we looked in at one figure, Abraham, as a way to open up cross-religious analysis and comparisons.  This week we will look in at one particular place.  The centre of Jerusalem figures prominently within the Jewish, Christian, and Muslim traditions.  How is Jerusalem to each?  How is it possible that an area but a kilometer-square is so sacred to more than half of the world's population?  To what degree is Jerusalem a source of conflict and to what degree does it also connect?

Your responsibilities for the week include:

1)  Watch one of the documentaries listed below.

2)  Immerse yourself in Jerusalem through the Entering Sacred Space Discussion Topic.  As with Abraham, you are only being asked to access some of the numerous resources included in the particular Discussion Topic.

3)  Write about Abraham and Jerusalem.  It's fine to choose to write a Journal entry about just one of the two if that will provide you the opportunity to go more in-depth, though it's certainly fine also if you decide to write an entry about each.  You should make at least one contribution to both the Abraham and Jerusalem Discussion Forums.

Discussion Forum

Entering Sacred Space -- Jerusalem

Reading Assignment

Browse extensively in  Entering Sacred Space -- Jerusalem  Discussion Topic.

Listening And Viewing

"Jerusalem," National Geographic, 2013 (45 mins.) or

"Jerusalem: Center Of The World," PBS, 2009 (Available through NIC and Films On Demand):

Episode 1:

Episode 2:

Lecture Materials

Of God And Abraham:  Here is a copy of the slide show I presented in class that highlights certain aspects of the stories of Abraham.


WEEK 3 (September 25-October 1):  Book Of Genesis

Orientation For The Week

It's o.k. if you are still orienting yourself to the course.  We have had a couple of students join us within the past week and I also am getting the feet under my ground at the start of a very demanding teaching semester.  Both the Abraham and Jerusalem Discussion topics are complex and layered ones.

But if you have not completed a Journal entry on at least one of those Discussion Topics, you should do so this week.  You should also contribute to both the Abraham and the Jerusalem Discussion Forums through the NIC Learn page.

The major new responsibility this week is to read Robert Crumb's Book of Genesis Illustrated.  I have used this version of Genesis a couple of times and most students have commented favourably upon it. To my mind, the strengths and weaknesses of the volume are interrelated -- the cartoons can draw readers into the text or alternatively serve to distract or even enrage.  The words and captions are not Crumb's, but are taken directly from either the King James Version of the Bible or from University of California religious scholar Robert Alter's recent translation.

You should write include a commentary upon Genesis as a major entry in your Journal.  I have included some possible Discussion questions in the Book of Genesis reading guide below.  These questions can serve as possible prompts for your contributions to the Discussion Forum and/or your Genesis Journal commentary entry.

Discussion Forum

Book Of Genesis

Reading Assignment

Robert Crumb, Book Of Genesis

Listening And Viewing

Video: "A History of God" (100 mins.) [2001]

Looking Ahead

Comparing Buddha, Jesus, And Muhammad Assignment:  This exercise represents one of the times during the semester when we will move beyond the boundaries of the Abrahamic tradition.  I am asking you to research the history and traditions associated with the founders of Buddhism, Christianity and Islam.  The research involved no doubt will take you a few hours.  Clicking on the link here or the comparable link in the Journal section of the web-site will open up a template that invites you to compare the lives, teachings, followers, festivals, and traditional stories associated with each of these figures.  Engage in some substantive research about each of the topics, aiming toward a few focused sentences for each box.  You can then type your information and analysis into the appropriate spaces and the boxes will expand as necessary.  Make sure that everything is in your own words and try to be as analytical as possible.  Do not hesitate to over-generalize in places.  Forcing oneself to make broad statements can help one to recognize pattern and to make sense of the whole -- you can always add caveats, exceptions, and complexities after engaging in such a thought experiment.

I am anticipating that most of you will rely upon internet research alone.  That is fine, though please interrogate your sources and use these critically.  You do not need footnotes or references unless quoting directly.  I would like at least an informal bibliography at the end of the mini-assignment that lists the main sources consulted.

The Buddha, Jesus, And Muhammad Assignment will not be graded separately.  Instead, it will be one core of your First-Half Journal.  I recommend that the assignment be at least 5 pages in length and some of you may find it grows to 10+ pages even as you retain a tight focus.  That is perfectly fine.  The due date for this is October 22, in conjunction with the First-Half Journal submission.


WEEK 4 (October 2-8:  An Introduction To Judaism (1)

Orientation For The Week

We will focus the next 2 weeks+ upon Judaism, the oldest of the Abrahamic religions.  I have a few common tasks outlined for both this week and next.  I also will include a copy of my in-class slide show presentation on the Essence of Judaism.  You will also be encouraged to browse extensively in the myriad of extra Judaism resources provided on the web-site.  You should identify particular topics of interest and comment upon some of this extra material in your Journal.

Your responsibilities for the week include the following:

1)  Read the BBC Judaism On-Line Text and fill out the accompanying Judaism Study Guide in preparation for next week's study quiz.

2)  Listen to the BBC Heart and Soul "The Mourner's Kaddish" audio documentary.

3)  Access extra materials from Judaism In The News, Judaism -- Audio Links, and Judaism -- Video Links.

On-Line Text

JudaismSee the Judaism Study Guide for a basic list of questions designed to help you prepare for next week's small quiz.

Discussion Forum

Judaism In The News

Reading Assignment

Browse extensively in Judaism In The News

Listening And Viewing

World Religions -- Judaism:  A 12-minute explanation from Stephen Prothero.

"The Mourner's Kaddish," Heart And Soul, BBC World Service, March 14, 2010.

Listen to at least one audio file and view at least one video file at Judaism: Audio Links and Judaism: Video Links


WEEK 5 (October 9-15):  An Introduction To Judaism (2)

Orientation For The Week

Your responsibilities for the week include the following:

1)  Take the Judaism Mini-Quiz as arranged in consultation with your instructor.

2)  Watch at least Episode 1 of Simon Schama's "Story Of The Jews" documentary series and browse in the accompanying Discussion Topic.

3)  Continue to browse extensively in the Judaism In The News, Judaism -- Audio Links, and Judaism -- Video Links.  Integrate interesting material from here into the Discussion Forum and your Journal.

Other Instructions

***Judaism Mini-Quiz (All questions for the quiz will be taken from the following web-site: http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/judaism/  ).  See the Judaism Study Guide for a basic list of questions designed to help you prepare for this  small quiz.

Discussion Forum

Simon Schama's Story Of The Jews

Reading Assignment

Continue to browse extensively in Judaism In The News.

Browse extensively in Simon Schama's Story Of The Jews Discussion Topic.

Listening And Viewing

 Video: Episode 1, In The Beginning," Story Of The Jews, BBC (60 mins.) [2013]   (Also available through NIC and Films On Demand)

Listen to at least one more audio file and view at least one more video file at Judaism: Audio Links and Judaism: Video Links

Lecture Materials

Lecture: The Essence Of Judaism

Looking Ahead

We will discuss the first half of Illustrated Bible Story By Story next week (pp. 14-269).  You will want to get a good start on this.

Optional Extras:  This week's required video is the first episode in a five-part history of Judaism.  I recommend that you watch further episodes in the series if you find the first one to be interesting.

  "The Story Of The Jews," BBC.  (All episodes also available through NIC and Films On Demand)

Episode 2, Among Believers

Episode 3, A Leap Of Faith

Episode 4, Over The Rainbow

Episode 5, Return  (Available through NIC and Films On Demand)


WEEK 6 (October 16-22): 

Orientation For The Week

Focus on the Old Testament section of Illustrated Bible Story By Story.  Listen to at least one episode of the CBC Ideas series on the Book of Exodus (each episode is approximately an hour in length) and watch part of Bruce Feiler's Walking The Bible programme if you have time to do so.  You should write a reading response to the first half of Illustrated Bible Story By Story and highlight a theme or themes of interest in the Discussion Forum.

Discussion Forum

"The History Of The Bible and Old Testament," in Illustrated Bible Story By Story

Reading Assignment

DK Publishing, Illustrated Bible Story By Story (Read Part 1 and 2: "The History Of The Bible and Old Testament," pp. 14-269).

Listening And Viewing

"The Book Of Exodus, Part 1," Ideas, CBC, April 20, 2011.

"The Book Of Exodus, Part 2," Ideas, CBC, April 21, 2011.

Optional Extras

Bruce Feiler's 2001 book Walking The Bible -- A Journey By Land Through The Five Books of Moses describes the author's 15,000-kilometer trek through the Middle East and his encounter with the Torah as a secular American Jew.  He also produced a companion television series, which I have linked below:

"Walking The Bible: A Journey By Land Through The Five Books Of Moses," PBS, 2006 (Available through NIC and Films On Demand)::

Episode 1, "Go Forth: From Creation To Abraham":

Episode 2, "A Coat Of Many Colors: The Israelites In Egypt":

Episode 3, "Toward The Promised Land: Forty Years In The Desert":


WEEK 7 (October 23-29): 

Orientation For The Week

Complete the Buddha, Jesus and Muhammad comparison template and include that as the final entry for your first-half Journal.

You should make a contribution to the Discussion Forum that identifies features of the exercise that you found to be particularly interesting.

You can circle back in Week 6 and Week 7 to edit earlier Journal entries and/or to update Discussion Topic commentaries.  You will need to spend several hours a week upon LIB 130 throughout the semester to keep on track with the course load, however.

You should submit your First-Half Journal to me electronically, either via my campus e-mail or through NIC Learn.

Assignment Due

***First Half Journal Due*** (October 29)

Discussion Forum

Comparing Buddha, Jesus And Muhammad


WEEK 8 (October 30-November 5): 

Orientation For The Week

The Two Marys Discussion Topic will serve as one entry into our relatively brief focus upon Christianity.  Note that we have already devoted significant time to the study of Christian scripture, since Judaism and Christianity share a sacred text (the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament).

Diarmaid MacCulloch's six-hour BBC series (and the accompanying several-hundred-page book) provides a thoughtful history of Christianity.  Watch at least one episode and, if you find that interesting, continue on with the series in the next couple of weeks.

On-Line Text

ChristianitySee the Christianity Study Guide for a basic list of questions designed to help you prepare for the small Christianity quiz.

Discussion Forum

Virgin Mary, Mary Magdalene, And James, The Brother Of Jesus

Reading Assignment

Browse extensively in  Virgin Mary, Mary Magdalene, And James, The Brother Of Jesus  Discussion Topic.

Listening And Viewing

World Religions -- Christianity:  A 13-minute explanation from Stephen Prothero.

Watch at least one episode from the following six-part BBC series:

  "The First Christianity," Episode 1, A History Of Christianity, BBC Four, 2011.

  "Catholicism: The Unpredictable Rise Of Rome," Episode 2, A History Of Christianity, BBC Four, 2011.

  "Orthodoxy: From Empire To Empire," Episode 3, A History Of Christianity, BBC Four, 2011.

  "Reformation: The Individual Before God," Episode 4, A History Of Christianity, BBC Four, 2011.

  "Protestantism: The Evangelical Revolution," Episode 5, A History Of Christianity, BBC Four, 2011.

  "God In The Dock," Episode 6, A History Of Christianity, BBC Four, 2011.

Looking Ahead

We will discuss the second half of Illustrated Bible Story By Story next week (pp. 272-467).

 


WEEK 9 (November 6-12): 

Orientation For The Week

The second half of Illustrated Bible Story By Story offers an excellent introduction to the New Testament.  I do not necessarily expect you to read the entire second half of the book, but do spend extensive time with this text and try to get as much out of it as possible.  Write something about the book in your Journal.  One approach would be to highlight a major theme or themes.  I have also listed more focused terms on my web-page about the book.  It is not required that you offer definitions of these terms in your Journal, but would be appropriate for you to do so if you think this would be a helpful exercise.

The BBC documentary on "The Lost Gospels" is, in my opinion, extremely thought-provoking.  I strongly recommend that you watch this 90-minute feature and you may well decide that you would like to write a Journal entry in response to it.

Discussion Forum

 "The New Testament," in Illustrated Bible Story By Story

Reading Assignment

DK Publishing, Illustrated Bible Story By Story (Read Part 3: "The New Testament," pp. 272-467).

Listening And Viewing

Watch Pete Owen Jones's BBC documentary "The Lost Gospels".


WEEK 10 (November 13-19): 

Orientation For The Week

One responsibility for the week, will be to complete the Christianity mini-quiz.  I will send this to you on Wednesday.  As with the Judaism quiz and the upcoming Islam quiz, the Christianity mini-quiz is low stakes in terms of overall course grading (2%) and rests upon an honor system for its successful completion.

I have extensively updated Christianity In The News.  I find careful browsing through such articles to be an educational experience for my own learning.  You may want to highlight one or two themes and then pick news items, audio clips, and or video materials that match up with your theme.  I recommend spending at least a couple of hours of this activity, though it's appropriate to devote extra time to Illustrated Bible Story By Story and/or The Two Marys Discussion Topic if you would like more time on either or both of those activities.

If you would like to get started on your study of Islam, I recommend that you start with one of the Muhammad documentaries listed as Optional Extras under Week 12.  Both of these videos are excellent, and you may well not have time that week to view them.

Other Instructions

***Christianity Mini-Quiz (All questions for the quiz will be taken from the following web-site: http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/christianity/   ).  See the Christianity Study Guide for a basic list of questions designed to help you prepare for this very small quiz.

Reading Assignment

Browse extensively in Christianity In The News.

Listening And Viewing

Listen to at least one audio file and view at least one video file at Christianity: Audio Links and Christianity: Video Links

Lecture Materials

Lecture: The Essence Of Christianity

Looking Ahead

I have decided to move If Oceans Were Ink two weeks ahead, both to provide you more time to read that in its entirety and to move less abruptly into the study of Islam.


WEEK 11 (November 20-26): 

Orientation For The Week

The focus should be on starting your study of Islam, though I've deliberately set the required activities for that at a minimum, to provide you with some extra time to finish off any Christianity loose-ends.  Both the short BBC audio documentary on the Kaa'ba and the National Geographic video on Mecca are superb.  You will need to sign into Films on Demand through the college library.  Let me know if you have any problems here.

If you are ready to switch over entirely to Islam, I recommend that you combine the video viewing with browsing in Islam in the News, Islam Audio Links, and Islam Video Links.  You may also want to get started on If Oceans Were Ink.

On-Line Text

IslamSee the Islam Study Guide for a basic list of questions designed to help you prepare for the small Islam quiz.

Listening And Viewing

World Religions -- Islam:  A 15-minute explanation from Stephen Prothero.

  Listen to "The Black Cube," Heart And Soul, BBC World Service (December 25, 2009).

"Inside Mecca," National Geographic, 2003 (Available through NIC and Films On Demand):

Reading Assignment

Browse extensively in  Islam In The News ; Sacred Festivals In The News -- Islam.

Optional Extras

"Hajj," Sacred Journeys, PBS, 2014 (Available through NIC and Films On Demand):

Looking Ahead

The reading of the book If Oceans Were Ink will be the primary responsibility for next week.


WEEK 12 (November 27-December 3): 

Orientation For The Week

The reading of sacred texts is often challenging.  In the case of the Qur'an, those challenges are only magnified by its non-narrative structure.

In an effort to help to better prepare you for your encounter with the Qur'an, I have prefaced it in the curriculum by this book in which two careful readers -- one an insider; the other a curious outsider -- struggle to find common ground in discussing Islam's holy book.

The viewing of either or both Muhammad documentary is optional.  I do think that both are well-done and encourage you to watch one if you have the time to do so.

Discussion Forum

If Oceans Were Ink

Reading Assignment

Carla Power, If Oceans Were Ink: An Unlikely Friendship And A Journey To The Heart Of The Qur'an

Lecture Materials

Lecture: The Essence Of Islam

Optional Extras

"Muhammad: Legacy Of A Prophet," 2005 (116 minutes)

  "The Life Of Prophet Muhammad," BBC.

Episode 1, The Seeker:

Episode 2, Holy Wars:

Episode 3, Holy Peace:


WEEK 13 (December 4-10): 

Orientation For The Week

We will have our last mini-quiz this week.  I will send you the Islam questions as a file on Wednesday.

The other responsibility is the Banning The Burqa Discussion Topic.  In past in-class editions of LIB 130, I have staged a mock debate about the French government's decision to prohibit first the wearing of the hijab in public schools and then later full-face coverings in public space more generally.

The issue of Muslim female dress has been a political issue in several different nations, including Canada.  Rather than take a debate stance, I would recommend instead that you read several different news articles involving various different nations.  Then write a Journal entry in which you attempt to make sense of what you have read.

Other Instructions

***Islam Mini-Quiz (All questions for the quiz will be taken from the following web-site: http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/islam/    ).  See the Islam Study Guide for a basic list of questions designed to help you prepare for this very small quiz.

Discussion Forum

Banning The Burqa

Reading Assignment

Browse extensively in  Banning The Burqa  Discussion Topic.

Looking Ahead

We will discuss The Qur'an next week.


WEEK 14 (December 11-17): 

Orientation For The Week

We will finish up the semester with the Qur'an.  I do not expect you to read the text from cover to cover (though I certainly do not want to discourage you from doing so).  I do expect you to spend a few hours with the book.  How would you begin to assess your encounter with the Qur'an?

Discussion Forum

The Qur'an

Reading Assignment

M.A.S. Abdel Haleem, trans., Qur'an

Optional Extras

Browse extensively in  Islam In The News ; Sacred Festivals In The News -- Islam.


***Second Half Journal Due*** (Wednesday, December 20)


Evaluation

Reflections On Entering The Course  

1%

Mini-Quizzes

6% (2% x 3)

First-Half Journal

25%

Second-Half  Journal

25%

Overall Journal (Not an extra assignment and typically just the average of the First-Half and Second-Half Journals)

23%

Class Participation 

20%

a)  Reflections On Entering The Course (1%)

Who are you? Where are you from? What are your interests? Why are you taking this course? How would you begin to make sense of your own thoughts about religion and religious studies? Do you have any questions, concerns, or suggestions as we start the course? Write two or three informal paragraphs  to introduce yourself to me.  I hope that you will also choose to share this initial Journal entry with your classmates, though there is no pressure for you to do so.


b)  Mini-Quizzes (6%)

There will be three miniature short-answer ten-minute quizzes spaced throughout the semester.


c)  The Journal (73%)

The student journal is the main assignment in this class.  The purpose of the journal is to provide you the opportunity for frequent thoughtful, analytical and personal commentary upon course—related material.  The advantages of the journal, to my mind, are that it breaks work down into regular and manageable chunks, and that it enables you to seize hold of the curriculum in a way which reflects your own interests and style.

The journal will be graded in two installments.  It will be due at the mid-point of the semester.  This installment will count for 25% of the course grade.  The journal will then again be due at the end of the semester.  This installment will include both a 25% grade for the second installment and a 23% grade for the journal in its entirety (most likely an average of the first and second installment grades).

The journal is premised upon the assumption that you will not just be regularly reflecting upon the course material but regularly writing about it as well as part of that reflective practice.  I recommend that you write at least one journal entry per week.  Each journal installment thus might include 7+ entries.  The individual entries can vary in style, format, and length.

In order to give you a basic structure and to clearly communicate my expectations, I will specify certain mandated entries and suggest a format for reading responses.  However, while it is required that all work in the journal be your own original writing, you are encouraged to be imaginative in your own investigation and analysis of World Religion.  I myself will be learning much about religion as the course proceeds and part of the logic of the Journal is that it provides you with some space to pursue topics of particular interest.

The excellent journal will:

be 30+ pages long.

include the Thoughts On Entering The Course and Reflections Upon Leaving The Course entries.

include Comparing Buddha, Jesus and Muhammad mini-project.

include analytical reviews of the 4 books.

include at least 3 Discussion Topic commentaries.

include at least 4 reading, audio responses and or video responses to such items as the required or supplementary articles and audio/video features, or Religion in the News readings.

include other entries that draw upon class material and/or your independent research.

demonstrate that you are approaching the readings and the course with care and effort.

The above list of entries is meant as a firm guide rather than as an absolutely-everything-here must be completed.  The embedded tension within the assignment between structure and flexibility is deliberate.  It is possible to excel in the course either by closely following my guidelines or by diverging from these significantly.  Do not hesitate to take risks and to express your own opinions.  It's fine if some entries read more like summary than analysis; it can be useful to put what you have learned from an article or a video into your own words.  Try, however, not to succumb to the temptation to write in an easy, stream—of—consciousness style.   There is no inherent tension between analytical rigour and personal insight.  This is an assignment designed to encourage and to reward extensive student effort and learning.  The work-load is heavy but my expectation is that a good-faith approach to the course will lead to strong success.  You can include print-outs from the internet in the journal or quote passages but are expected to identify that which is not your own original work.  Formal footnoting is not required but plagiarized/cut-and-pasted material will likely lead to a failing grade for the course.  Likewise, you should not recycle any writings from other classes.


d)  Class Participation (20%)

The class participation grade will be based upon contributions to the on-line Discussion Forum.  A strong course participation grade will reflect both thoughtful engagement with the curriculum and the willingness to engage in regular on-line written conversation with your classmates and the instructor.


A Note On Plagiarism

Everything that you hand in should be your original work unless otherwise indicated.  Violations of this policy may result in failing an assignment or the course in its entirety.  Please talk to me if you have any uncertainty  about what is permitted here.


Welcome To The Course

 

 

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