Rel 2000 #1570, Fall 2007 Introduction To Religion Course Credit Hours: 3 Online Campus, eLearning 100% Online Instructor

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REL 2000 #1570, Fall 2007

Introduction To Religion

Course Credit Hours: 3

Online Campus, eLearning 100% Online

June D. Watkins, Ph.D. (ABD) Claremont Graduate University, School of Religion

Director of Women’s Studies

Coordinator, Interdisciplinary Studies

Instructor, Branch Campus-Arts & Humanities

Office: UWF Main Campus, Bldg 11 Room 221
Required Texts:

No textbook. We are using interactive software

Revealing World Religions, Version 2.0 by Cynthia Eller, PhD, Thinking Strings L.L.C.,

Available through the college bookstore or

Course Description:

This course is an introduction to world religions and the academic study of religion.  It examines the historical evolution, the fundamental doctrines and beliefs, the practices, institutions, and cultural expressions of the major religious traditions.  Students will explore Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Taoism, Confucianism, Shinto, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam in order to understand the essential differences and similarities of these traditions.   The course partially satisfies the Gordon Rule requirement for writing (3 credit hours).

Student Learning Outcomes:

All students successfully completing this course should be able to:

  1. Differentiate between the major world’s religions by acquiring a basic knowledge of their histories, sacred stories, founders, and worldviews.

  2. Understand the historical context in which these worldviews emerged.

  3. Recognize the methods that religious scholars use in the critical analysis of religious phenomena.

  4. Refine communication skills and express ideas clearly and concisely.

  5. Improve time/project management skills by preparing assignments and meeting deadlines.

  6. Demonstrate proficiency in academic writing using Turabian and the Chicago Manual of Style.

Elearning Environment:

Even if you have taken other online courses, I recommend that you go through the Student Orientation Guide located on your “My Home” page of eLearning. If you encounter any technological problems any time during the semester, please contact ITS. There is a “request help from the ITS Help Desk” link located on your “My Home” page. There is a quick start guide available.

Special Technology:

This course is totally online. All instructional content and interaction takes place over the WWW. In addition to baseline word processing skills and sending/receiving email with attachments, students will be expected to search the internet and upload / download files. Minimum system requirements to run the software for this course are as follows:

  • Microsoft Windows 98, 2000, ME, NT, XP or

  • Macintosh OS X 10.2 or later (PowerPC only – compatible with Intel Processor Macintosh systems)

  • 512 MB RAM (1GB recommended)

  • DVD-ROM drive

  • 1.2 GB of hard drive space of 100 MB on removable disk

  • Display Resolution of 1024 X 768

  • Computer speakers or headphones

In addition, students may need one or more of the following plug-ins:

  • Adobe Acrobat Reader:

  • PowerPoint Viewer: (only if you don’t have PowerPoint on your computer)

  • Windows Media Player:

  • Quicktime Player:

  • Real Player:

  • Macromedia Flash Player:


Students will be evaluated based on the ability to demonstrate proficiency in a punctual manner, as well as respectful participation.

Quizzes: 30%

Religious Autobiography: 20%

Outline/ Bibliography 10%

Research Paper: 30%

Participation: 10%

Religious Autobiography:

One of the first writing assignments in the course will be to write your own religious autobiography. Papers should be 2 or 3 pages long with an average size of 2 pages double spaced. There will be no citations (footnotes) required since this assignment is about you. All papers for this course should be double spaced using Times New Roman, 12 pt, and black font. Evaluation is based on content, form and style. Since this is your autobiographical sketch of your religious development/beliefs, there are no wrong answers. But you do need to prepare the paper in an interesting, professional and organized manner. Directions concerning the content of the paper are located on the eLearning website when you click on the drop box for this assignment.

Research Paper:

The research paper will be independent research and analysis of a topic related to the academic study of religion. The topic must be relevant to our subject matter, and by that I mean the topic should address religion from an academic stand point and not from a religious stand point. We aren’t doing religion; we are researching and learning about religion. The finished paper should be 4-5 pages in length. A list of appropriate topics will be provided. You are not limited to the listed topics and may research a topic of your own, but only after approval from the instructor. Papers are evaluated on four criteria: (1) Style/Grammar; (2) Depth of analysis; (3) Logic and clarity of argument; (4) Research skills including footnotes and bibliography. Students should incorporate class materials into the research paper and demonstrate a clear understanding of the course readings. The grading rubric is located on the file called “Writing research papers in religious studies” located in the content section of Module One. Prior to turning in the finished research paper, a proposed outline of research plans and a proposed bibliography will be turned in, allowing me to give you some feedback and help.


Each course develops its own “class culture” and so participation is vital to the success of the course. An “A” for participation in this online class is based on a minimum of two log-ins per week, posting each week in the discussion forum, and an active presence on the boards. Participation primarily takes place in the discussion forum section of eLearning.

More about Respect:

Unlike other disciplines, religious studies is unique in that students begin this class with deeply held convictions about (and often emotional attachments to) the subject matter. When studying mathematics, for example, it would be unusual for students to believe that an equilateral triangle is true but an isosceles triangle is false, and yet this is often the case with religious studies. This presents a challenge for students and so I ask you approach these new systems of thought with an open mind (or at least a neutral mind) in the hopes that by understanding another system of belief, you may find that you understand your own tradition a little better. No student is asked to compromise his or her own beliefs, and yet we must practice tolerance for beliefs other than our own. The academic study of religion is not about ranking religions from better to worse. Each system of belief is appreciated for its own contribution to the world.

Weekly Plans:

The modules will generally begin on Monday of each week and end on Sunday. It is your choice how quickly or slowly you will go through each module within the week’s time. Some students work more quickly than others, but a three credit hour course requires that you either spend three hours in a classroom or that you spend three hours online. Additionally with both types of settings, the general rule of thumb is that you would spend at least one hour studying for every hour in the class room. However, you need to show at least two log-ins and spend around 6 hours per week on average with the course. Students often ask if they can log in only once and complete the module in one sitting. That approach is not recommended because one of the features of online learning is that discussions take place in a virtual discussion forum. If you post a comment one day, someone could reply to you to next day, and if you are only logging in once a week you will miss out on the discussion. Successful online participation requires a consistent presence on the boards.

Grading Scale:

Grade Description Range Grade Points

A Outstanding 94-100 4.0

A- Outstanding 90-93 3.7

B+ Above average 87-89 3.3

B Above average 84-86 3.0

B- Above average 80-83 2.7

C+ Average 77-79 2.3

C Average 74-76 2.0

C- Average 70-73 1.7

D+ Below average 67-69 1.3

D Below average 64-66 1.0

F Failure 0-63 0.0

Student Code of Conduct

The Student Code of Conduct sets forth the rules, regulations and expected behavior of students enrolled at the University of West Florida. Violations of any rules, regulations, or behavioral expectations may result in a charge of violating the Student Code of Conduct. It is the student’s responsibility to read the Student Code of Conduct and conduct him or herself accordingly.  You may access the current Student Code of Conduct at

Contact Information:

It is easiest to reach me by email,

  • Please contact me through your UWF email account since my mailbox has a spam filter that deletes most email from free accounts such as yahoo and hotmail.

  • Please use the subject line to include the course number (REL2000) and the reason for the email. Example: “SUBJECT: re: REL2000, question about syllabus”.

  • Since I teach more than one class, please identify yourself and the class you attend.

  • Please check your UWF email regularly because I often send important notices through group mail.

  • Remember that it is your responsibility to check UWF mail regularly, but to make it easier; you can forward your UWF to your home email account so that you only have one mailbox to check.

  • My office hours each week will be

    • Tuesday 9:30- 11am at OWC,

    • Tuesday 1-3pm at FWB shared campus,

    • Wednesday and Thursday on main campus, building 11 room 221

    • Monday and Friday by appointment

Suggestions for success:

  • Keep track of the syllabus schedule. Make an appointment with yourself twice a week to work on this class.

  • Be sure to keep up. It is very common in online classes for students with the best intentions to fall behind.

  • Take notes on the modules, and jot down any questions you have and ask for help.

  • Frame your comments and questions to classmates in respectful language.

  • Be sure you have read and understood the UWF plagiarism policy. Plagiarism ranges from minor infractions such as mistaken footnotes all the way to more serious cases of downloading complete papers from the internet. There is a range of infractions in between. Make sure you are turning in work in your own words.

Module Date Topic Assignments


8/27- 9/2


Student intros


  • Familiarize yourself with the elearning environment

  • Fill out or update your profile

  • Post a greeting under “discussions”

  • Read UWF plagiarism policy and go through tutoring module at UWF library

  • take Syllabus quiz


9/3- 9/9

Exploring Religions

What is Religion?

Types of Religions

Studying Religion

complete 3 sections in software program

My Religious Autobiography” due in drop box: 9/9, 11:59 PM


9/10- 9/16


Defining Finding Hinduism

Birth of Hinduism

Philosophy of Hinduism Yoga

Complete these 4 sections


9/17- 9/23 Hinduism

Schools of Hindu Philosophy

The Hindu Pantheon

Puja and Pilgrimage

Hinduism in the West

Complete these 4 sections


9/24 – 9/30 Buddhism

Life of the Buddha

Philosophy of Buddhism

First 400 years

Theravada Buddhism

Complete these 4 sections


10/1 – 10/7 Buddhism

Mahayana Buddhism

Vajrayana Buddhism

Mahayana in China

Mahayana in Japan

Complete these 4 sections


10/8 – 10/14 Sikhism

Emergence of Sikhism

Life of Guru Nanak

Sikh Theology

The Ten Gurus

Complete these 4 sections


10/15 – 10/21 Taoism

Ancient Chinese Religion

Beginnings of Taoism

Philosophy of the Tao

Taoism as a Religion

Complete these 4 sections


10/22 – 10/28


Taoist Pantheon

Second Millennium CE

Meditation & Medicine

Taoist Ritual Practices

Complete these 4 sections

Proposed Outline/Bibliography due: 10/28, 11:59 PM


10/29 – 11/4 Confucianism

Life of Confucius

Fundamentals Confucianism

Early Confucian history

The Modern Era

Complete these 4 sections


11/5 – 11/11 Shinto

Early Japanese Religion

Key Characteristics



Complete these 4 sections


11/12 – 11/18


Basic Principles

Cultural Context

Hebrew Scriptures

The State of Israel

Complete these 4 sections


11/19 – 11/25 Christianity


Early Christianity

Christian Scriptures

Christianity in 21st century

Complete these 4 sections

Research Paper due: 11/25, 11:59 PM


11/26 -12/2 Islam

Life of Mohammad

Islamic Texts

Major Tenets of Islam

Religious Practices

Complete these 4 sections


12/3 – 12/9


Dead Week

History of Islam


Islamic Resurgence

Women and Islam

Complete these 4 sections

Bonus Quiz offered for make-ups


12/10 – 12/14

Finals Week

All make-up work or late work must be turned in no later than 12/14 at 11:59pm

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