Syllabus for REL-407

WESTERN RELIGIONS


COURSE DESCRIPTION

Western Religions is an introductory course, offering a foundation in religious literacy. The religious traditions encountered in this course are those that are alive today and involve the lives of a significant number of people worldwide--Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and new emerging religions.

The course is interdisciplinary in that it includes historical and social materials, literary and artistic expressions, and philosophical and theological insights of world religions. In a world that has become increasingly aware of its cultural diversity and richness, it is clear that one way to gain access to that diversity and richness is by exploring the religious consciousness and practice of a people.

COURSE OBJECTIVES

The basic goal of Western Religions is to explore the meaning of religion, its broad characteristics, and religious consciousness, practice, and expression exemplified in the history and religions under study in this course. After completing this course, you should be able to:

  1. Discuss the roles and functions of religion in human history and contemporary life, especially Western religions.
  2. Name, define, and discuss some of the important features and concepts used in religious studies, and give examples of each of these features from the religious traditions under study.
  3. Recognize the differences among the religious traditions under study.
  4. Explain the patterns for comparison and contrast of the religions under study.
  5. Appreciate the religious-based issues and conflicts in the modern world and contribute to their mediation in whatever ways touch your life.
  6. Develop insights into the religions under study that can enrich life.

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

ISBN-13:9780073535647

        

ISBN-13: 978-0132060592

COURSE STRUCTURE

Western Religions is a three-credit online course, consisting of seven (7) modules. Modules include study materials and activities.

ASSESSMENT METHODS

For your formal work in the course, you are required to participate in five (5) graded online discussion forums as well as an ungraded but required "Introductions" forum, complete and submit six (6) written assignments, and take two proctored online examinations—a midterm and a final. 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 five graded online discussions, each focusing on an issue relating to Western religions.

Communication with the mentor and among fellow students is a critical component of online learning. Participation in online discussions involves two distinct activities: 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

Western Religions has six (6) written assignments. Check the course Calendar for when you are to submit these assignments to your mentor. Go to the Activities Modules area of the course Web site to find the written assignment questions you are asked to reflect upon and submit to your mentor.

Responses to written assignment questions are expected to be well developed and reasonably detailed essays. Your answers should be at least three (3) double-spaced typewritten pages each.

Your answers should clearly demonstrate your understanding of the required texts. Refer primarily to these textbooks for your answers, but also complement this information, when necessary, with material from other print or online sources. Do not merely copy answers from your required texts or from other sources, but when you make use of such material, be sure you cite it properly (i.e., with footnotes or endnotes).

Prepare your written assignments using whatever word processing program you have on your computer. Include your name at the top of the paper, as well as the course name and code and the semester and year in which you are enrolled.

Before submitting your first assignment, check with your mentor to determine whether your word processing software is compatible with your mentor's software. If so, you can submit your work as you prepared it. If not, save your activity as a rich-text (.rtf) file, using the Save As command of your software program. Rich text retains basic formatting and can be read by any other word processing program.

Go to the Submit Activities area of the course Web site to submit all written assignments.

Examinations

You are required to take two (2) proctored online examinations: a midterm exam and a final exam. Both exams require that you 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.

Midterm Examination

The midterm is a closed-book, proctored online exam. It is two hours long and covers all material assigned in Module 1 through 4 of the course. It consists of ten multiple choice and four essay questions.

Final Examination

The final exam is a closed-book, proctored online exam. It is two hours long and covers all material assigned in Module 5 through Module 7. It consists of ten multiple choice and four essay questions. Please note: The topic of Christianity is included in both the Midterm and Final exams.

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:

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.

GRADING AND EVALUATION

Your grade in the course will be determined as follows:

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:

Study Tips

Consider the following study tips for success:

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 activity 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:

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 activity, 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.

Thomas Edison State College. All Rights Reserved.