EASTERN AND COMPARATIVE RELIGIONS: APPROACHING THE COURSE
LIB 131 is being delivered in the Winter 2021 semester with a synchronous format. We will meet regularly as a group via videoconferencing. We will start off the semester on a twice-a-week Tuesday-Thursday schedule, though we will move to once-weekly Thursday sessions for much of the semester. I will also make time available for one-on-one student-instructor videoconferences.
While there will be some lecturing, the emphasis will be on seminar discussion. It is important that you come to class having completed the weekly Reading and Viewing/Listening Assignments outlined in the syllabus for that week and that you be ready to participate in group discussion. The success of the class will depend not just upon the instructor's performance but upon your individual contributions. You should anticipate that you will need to spend an average of 5+ hours a week on your own engaged in study on LIB 131 to meet your course responsibilities.
Although I do not believe in regularly putting students on the spot and while I accept that there are extra reasons for privacy given our pandemic digital learning conditions, I far prefer a videoconference environment in which students choose to appear on camera and do their best to create a virtual community.
The books will be one central focus for class discussion. We will centre four of our class sessions around your responses to the required texts. You will need to purchase the first three of those, while the fourth, Sikhism -- A Very Short Introduction, is available as a free e-book through the NIC Library if you prefer that to the paper NIC Bookstore copy.
The Mister Dan site, my public access web-site, will be the basic resource for the course. (https://www.misterdann.com/contentsreligioneastern.htm )
We will using the NIC LIB 131 Blackboard site as the place for Discussion Forum Contributions and for Assignment Submissions. You will be able to reach the Blackboard site through logging on at https://learn.nic.bc.ca/ .
The Discussion Forums are meant to facilitate the sharing of ideas and to engage you with your classmates. Although the Discussion Forums will not assume as central a role in LIB 131 as in some of my other courses, they still will be an important component in the Class Participation grade. You should try to offer thoughtful commentary upon a regular basis. Although there will be very considerable flexibility here, and while I will leave up discussion forums throughout the semester, those students who do not regularly and recurrently contribute to the forums will see this reflected in their grades and evaluation.
Before the start of each week, you should read the "Orientation For The Week" overview on the Syllabus page. It will outline your responsibilities for the coming week, including instructions for the Discussion Forums and for required Reading, Listening, and Viewing.
The most substantial assignment in LIB 131 will be the on-going Eastern And Comparative Religions Journal (35%). This will consist of a series of commentaries upon the curriculum. I have provided you with two different options for the Journal: (1) The Regular Journal; or (2) The Note-Taking/Journal Combo. These are described in detail on the Assignment Page of my web-site. You should familiarize yourself with these two models and make a clear choice between the options at the beginning of the course.
It is expected that you work regularly on the Journal throughout the semester, writing in it on a weekly basis. You will only need to hand in the Journal to me twice, however. You will submit your Journal-in-Progress to me through the Blackboard site not long after Reading Break. I want to check to ensure that you are making good progress on the assignment and that we share a mutual understanding as to the nature of the assignment. This check-in is ungraded but mandatory. Failure to submit your Journal-in-Progress at this time may lead to a lowering of your Journal grade later in the semester. You will then submit your entire semester-long Journal to me through the Blackboard site at the end of the semester for an overall grade and evaluation.
There are a series of smaller assignments to complement the LIB 131 Journal. These include the Sacred Signs Seminar Note and Powerpoint; the Nine Lives Mini-Essay; the Other Asian Religions Group Project; and the Comparative Religions Comparison Grid.
I have decided not to have any exams in this edition of LIB 131, though I will be expecting you to demonstrate consistent engagement with the course curriculum through your Journal entries and in-class comments. I hope that you enjoy the course and I look forward to working with you.