Syllabus for REL-405

WORLD RELIGIONS: EXPLORING DIVERSITY


COURSE DESCRIPTION

World Religions: Exploring Diversity examines the complexity of religion as a multidimensional phenomenon characterized by heightened experience, ritual practice, powerful myths, ethical teaching, social organization, and theological doctrine. The course explores religious traditions that are alive today and that involve the lives of the majority of people worldwide from the indigenous religions of Africa and North America to the major world religions of the East such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, and Shinto, as well as the western religions of the Book: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

The course is interdisciplinary in that it includes material from historical and social studies, literary and artistic expressions, and philosophical and theological insights into the world's religions. In a world increasingly aware of its cultural diversity and richness, exploring the religious life and consciousness of a people is one way of gaining access to that diversity.

COURSE OBJECTIVES

The basic goals of World Religions: Exploring Diversity are to explore the meaning of religion, examine its broad characteristics, and explore religious consciousness, practice, and expression exemplified in the history and religions of the world. After studying this course, you should be able to:

  1. Discuss and discriminate between the basic dimensions that constitute the phenomena of religion throughout the world, including the experiential, mythic, ritual, doctrinal, social and ethical dimensions.
  2. Analyze the different forms and implications of religious experience.
  3. Discuss and evaluate the power of myth in world religions.
  4. Assess how the religious beliefs and practices of others relate to their own worldviews.
  5. Compare the key doctrines of the world's major religions.
  6. Compare and contrast the different forms of social organization of the various world religions.
  7. Compare and contrast features of the ethical systems from the world's religions.
  8. Analyze the relationship between doctrine and truth (that is, revealed theology and natural theology).
  9. Evaluate current trends and developments in the intersection of religion and society.

COURSE MATERIALS

You will need the following materials to do the work of the course. The required textbook is available from the college's textbook supplier, MBS Direct.

Required Textbook

  1. The Ways of Religion, 3d ed., edited by Roger Eastman (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999).

ISBN-10: 0-19-511835-9

  1. Worldviews: Crosscultural Explorations of Human Beliefs, 3d ed., by Ninian Smart (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2000).

ISBN-10: 0-13-020980-5

COURSE STRUCTURE

World Religions: Exploring Diversity is a 3-credit online course consisting of nine (9) modules. Modules include learning objectives, study materials, and activities.

ASSESSMENT METHODS

For your formal work in the course, you are required to read the texts as assigned, participate in online discussion forums, complete and submit written assignments, take a proctored online midterm examination, and complete a final project. See below for more details.

Consult the Course Calendar for due dates.

Discussion Forums

In addition to posting an introduction to the class in module 1, you are required to participate in seven (7) graded online discussions, each focusing on an issue relating to world religions.

Communication with the mentor and among fellow students is a critical component of online learning. Participation in online discussions involves two distinct assignments: an initial response to a discussion question and at least two subsequent comments on classmates' responses. Meaningful participation is relevant to the content, adds value, and advances the discussion. Comments such as "I agree" and "ditto" are not considered value-adding participation. Therefore, when you agree or disagree with a classmate, the reading, or your mentor, state and support your agreement or disagreement. You will be evaluated on the quality and quantity of your participation. Responses and comments should be properly proofread and edited, professional, and respectful.

Your initial responses and subsequent comments on classmates' responses are due on the days specified by the course Calendar.

Written Assignments

World Religions: Exploring Diversity has nine (9) written assignments. These assignments consist of sometimes specific and sometimes general problems or questions connected with a particular religion or the interconnections between and among religions. Check the course Calendar for when you are to submit these assignments to your mentor.

Responses to written assignment questions are expected to be well developed and reasonably detailed. Each essay should be at least three (3) double-spaced, typed pages (at least 750 words). Assignments should clearly demonstrate your understanding of the course materials. Do not merely copy answers from your reading materials, but when you make use of material from your readings, be sure you cite it properly (i.e., with footnotes or endnotes).

Midterm Examination

You are required to take a proctored online midterm examination. See the Calendar for the official dates for your midterm exam week.

The midterm is a closed-book, proctored online exam. It is two hours long and covers all material assigned through Module 5 of the course. The exam consists of four essay questions.

For the midterm, you are required to use the College's Online Proctor Service (OPS). Please refer to the "Examinations and Proctors" section of the Online Student Handbook (see General Information area of the course Web site) for further information about scheduling and taking online exams and for all exam policies and procedures. You are strongly advised to schedule your exam within the first week of the semester.

Online exams are administered through the course Web site. Consult the course Calendar for the official dates of exam weeks.

Statement about Cheating

You are on your honor not to cheat during an exam. Cheating means:

  1. Looking up any answer or part of an answer in an unauthorized textbook or on the Internet, or using any other source to find an answer.
  2. Copying and pasting or, in any way copying responses or parts of responses from any other source into your exams. This includes but is not limited to copying and pasting from other documents or spreadsheets, whether written by yourself or anyone else.
  3. Plagiarizing answers.
  4. Asking anyone else to assist you by whatever means available while you take an exam.
  5. Copying any part of an exam to share with other students.
  6. Telling your mentor that you need another attempt at an exam because your connection to the Internet was interrupted when that is not true.

If there is evidence that you have cheated or plagiarized in an exam, the exam will be declared invalid, and you will fail the course.

Final Project

This course includes a final project that requires you to analyze, synthesize, and evaluate course content in a final paper. You will choose a topic of interest to you, obtain approval for your choice from your mentor, and apply insights from your course work to your topic. You will need to do further research on the topic in order to complete the paper. A full description of the paper appears in the Final Project area of the course.

This project is worth 25 percent of your grade; 1 percent of that total consists of your obtaining approval for your topic.

Consult your Course Calendar for due dates.

GRADING AND EVALUATION

Your grade in the course will be determined as follows:

  1. Online discussions (7)—15 percent
  2. Written assignments (9)—30 percent
  3. Midterm exam (proctored online, modules 1–5)—30 percent
  4. Final project—25 percent

All activities will receive a numerical grade of 0–100. You will receive a score of 0 for any work not submitted. Your final grade in the course will be a letter grade. Letter grade equivalents for numerical grades are as follows:

A

=

93–100

C+

=

78–79

A–

=

90–92

C

=

73–77

B+

=

88–89

C–

=

70–72

B

=

83–87

D

=

60–69

B–

=

80–82

F

=

Below 60

To receive credit for the course, you must earn a letter grade of C or better (for an area of study course) or D or better (for a nonarea of study course), based on the weighted average of all assigned course work (e.g., exams, assignments, discussion postings, etc.).

STRATEGIES FOR SUCCESS

First Steps to Success

To succeed in this course, take the following first steps:

  1. Read carefully the entire Syllabus, making sure that all aspects of the course are clear to you and that you have all the materials required for the course.

  1. Take the time to read the entire Online Student Handbook. The Handbook answers many questions about how to proceed through the course, how to schedule exams and arrange for proctors, and how to get the most from your educational experience at Thomas Edison State College.

  1. Arrange to take your midterm examination by following the instructions in the Online Student Handbook.

  1. Familiarize yourself with the learning management systems environment—how to navigate it and what the various course areas contain. If you know what to expect as you navigate the course, you can better pace yourself and complete the work on time.

  1. If you are not familiar with Web-based learning be sure to review the processes for posting responses online and submitting assignments before class begins.

Study Tips

Consider the following study tips for success:

  1. To stay on track throughout the course, begin each week by consulting the course Calendar. The Calendar provides an overview of the course and indicates due dates for submitting assignments, posting discussions, and scheduling and taking examinations.

  1. Check Announcements regularly for new course information.

ACADEMIC INTEGRITY

Students at Thomas Edison State College are expected to exhibit the highest level of academic citizenship. In particular, students are expected to read and follow all policies, procedures, and program information guidelines contained in publications; pursue their learning goals with honesty and integrity; demonstrate that they are progressing satisfactorily and in a timely fashion by meeting course deadlines and following outlined procedures; observe a code of mutual respect in dealing with mentors, staff, and other students; behave in a manner consistent with the standards and codes of the profession in which they are practicing; keep official records updated regarding changes in name, address, telephone number, or e-mail address; and meet financial obligations in a timely manner. Students not practicing good academic citizenship may be subject to disciplinary action including suspension, dismissal, or financial holds on records.

Academic Dishonesty

Thomas Edison State College expects all of its students to approach their education with academic integrity—the pursuit of scholarly assignment free from fraud and deception. All mentors and administrative staff members at the College insist on strict standards of academic honesty in all courses. Academic dishonesty undermines this objective. Academic dishonesty takes the following forms:

  1. Cheating
  2. Plagiarizing (including copying and pasting from the Internet without using quotation marks and without acknowledging sources)
  3. Fabricating information or citations
  4. Facilitating acts of dishonesty by others
  5. Unauthorized access to examinations or the use of unauthorized materials during exam administration
  6. Submitting the work of another person or work previously used without informing the mentor
  7. Tampering with the academic work of other students

Academic dishonesty will result in disciplinary action and possible dismissal from the College. Students who submit papers that are found to be plagiarized will receive an F on the plagiarized assignment, may receive a grade of F for the course, and may face dismissal from the College.

A student who is charged with academic dishonesty will be given oral or written notice of the charge. If a mentor or College official believes the infraction is serious enough to warrant referral of the case to the academic dean, or if the mentor awards a final grade of F in the course because of the infraction, the student and the mentor will be afforded formal due process.

If a student is found cheating or using unauthorized materials on an examination, he or she will automatically receive a grade of F on that examination. Students who believe they have been falsely accused of academic dishonesty should seek redress through informal discussions with the mentor, through the office of the dean, or through an executive officer of Thomas Edison State College.

Plagiarism

Using someone else's work as your own is plagiarism. Although it may seem like simple dishonesty, plagiarism is against the law. Thomas Edison State College takes a strong stance against plagiarism, and students found to be plagiarizing will be severely penalized. If you copy phrases, sentences, paragraphs, or whole documents word-for-word—or if you paraphrase by changing a word here and there—without identifying the author, then you are plagiarizing. Please keep in mind that this type of identification applies to Internet sources as well as to print-based sources. Copying and pasting from the Internet, without using quotation marks and without acknowledging sources, constitutes plagiarism. (For information about how to cite Internet sources, see Online Student Handbook > Academic Standards > "Citing Sources.")

Accidentally copying the words and ideas of another writer does not excuse the charge of plagiarism. It is easy to jot down notes and ideas from many sources and then write your own paper without knowing which words are your own and which are someone else's. It is more difficult to keep track of each and every source. However, the conscientious writer who wishes to avoid plagiarizing never fails to keep careful track of sources.

Always be aware that if you write without acknowledging the sources of your ideas, you run the risk of being charged with plagiarism.

Clearly, plagiarism, no matter the degree of intent to deceive, defeats the purpose of education. If you plagiarize deliberately, you are not educating yourself, and you are wasting your time on courses meant to improve your skills. If you plagiarize through carelessness, you are deceiving yourself.

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