Special Note on Creating a Virtual Community: In order to minimize the spread of Covid-19, this course will be taught online via Zoom, a high-quality video conferencing platform that will allow us to create a virtual classroom that closely approximates the experience of meeting in a physical space. One way to contribute to the success of our virtual classroom is to keep your camera turned on during class sessions. While this may be a little uncomfortable at first, our willingness to be “present” for each other will help us establish a learning community that is based on mutual trust and respect. If you have any concerns about this policy, please reach out to me as soon as possible so that we can discuss your situation and develop an alternate strategy if necessary.
Cardinal Operation Hope and Help: A community begins when a group of people come together to pursue a common interest, but to truly flourish there must be a shared sense of concern for the well-being of all its members. Toward this end, the North Central community has established Cardinal Operation Hope and Help to provide emergency financial support for students with basic needs such as food, clothing, shelter, transportation, and educational supplies. To explore details of the program as well as eligibility requirements, please click the above link — and feel free to let me know how I can help you overcome any challenges you are facing.
Zoom Recordings: Class sessions in this course may be recorded in order to provide increased accessibility to course content for all students, including those who have been granted permission to record or require temporary or ongoing remote access. Recorded content may be used like class notes to support learning outcomes for the course, but may not be shared with anyone who is not a registered student in this class. Students may not upload recorded content to file-sharing sites, post them to the web or on social media, provide them to journalists, or use them in any way that has not been specifically approved above.
Introduction to World Religions
This course will explore the historical development, principal beliefs, and basic practices of eight of the world’s major religious traditions, namely Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Daoism, Confucianism, Shinto, Hinduism, and Buddhism.
The distribution of grades for the course is as follows:
Your final grade will ultimately depend on my assessment of your performance in each of the above areas, though the following descriptions should provide you with a rough idea of the defining characteristics of students within particular grade ranges:
By the end of this course, you should be able to:
The Class Participation mark (worth 10% of the final grade) will be based on your ability to demonstrate that you have made a sincere attempt to read and understand the assigned material. Although the quality of your comments will obviously be taken into consideration, all attempts to seriously engage the readings — from sharing your perspective on the material to simply asking a relevant question — will enhance your grade.
REVEL for Living Religions, 10e is the digital text you'll be using to
access assignments throughout the semester. To access your
materials, go to https://console.pearson.com/enrollment/r2t0dw. Please note that this link is unique to the course: no other version of the text will allow you to complete the online quizzes that are worth 25% of your final grade.
If you have any trouble purchasing access to the text, please let me
know as soon as possible so that I can work with a Pearson
representative to resolve the problem. You will need to read the
beginning of Chapter 1
and do the associated online quizzes before our first meeting Tuesday,
January 26, so please purchase the text as soon as possible.
As you read through the online text, there will be short quizzes at the end of each section and a longer quiz at the end of each chapter. The questions for the short reading quizzes are worth 5 points if you get it right on the first try, 4 points for the second try, and 3 points for the third. For the longer quizzes at the end of the chapter each question is worth 10 on the first try, 7 on the second, and 4 on the third. There are a total of 2520 possible points with 100 points worth 1% for a maximum total of 25%. Quizzes should be completed before class on the assigned due date; quizzes that are completed after the due date will be marked down by 50%.
Essays should be submitted on Blackboard by clicking the “Assignments” link on the left-hand tab and then choosing the correct assignment. All papers should be double-spaced and include appropriate references using either Chicago Style or MLA. Papers are due before class on the day for which they are assigned; late submissions will be penalized one degree (e.g., from B+ to B) for each day that the paper is late. If you have any questions regarding what does or does not constitute plagiarism, please refer to the college’s plagiarism policy. Essays that contain significant instances of plagiarism will receive a 0 and be reported to the Office of Academic Affairs in accordance with college policy. All submitted work may be randomly selected for program assessment (with names removed); although this will in no way impact your course grade, you may opt out of program assessment by notifying Professor Hoffert by email.
750-Word Minimum, 10%
Whether you are religious, non-religious, or somewhere in between, everyone has a perspective on religion. Writing your religious autobiography is an opportunity to reflect on your personal history as well as your present beliefs about the meaning and purpose of existence. There is no “correct” formula for completing this assignment: you may want to start with your early childhood and then trace the development of your religious beliefs and practices up to the present; or you may decide to focus on an event in your life that had a profound impact on your religious identity. One way or another, the goal is to show how your personal history has influenced your current perspective on religion. Needless to say, I will not share the content of your paper with anyone else. For details on grading, see the Religious Autobiography Rubric below.
In each class session, we will explore the assigned readings through a web page that features relevant quotes as well as a variety of images, videos, and links. (Web pages can be accessed after the class session through the course’s web syllabus.) At the bottom of each page, you will find one or two “reflection” questions that prompt you to further explore the class session’s main theme(s). After completing the section on a particular religion, you will be asked to write a short paper on one of these reflection questions, so that by the end of the course you will have reflected on some aspect of each of the major traditions we are studying in the course. Each reflection paper should be a minimum of 750 words (approximately 3 pages) and include appropriate references to the course text and at least two additional academic sources. Papers are worth 10% each, but I will drop the two lowest grades for a total of 40% (i.e., best 4 of 6 papers). For details on grading, see the Reflection Paper Rubric below.
1500-Word Minimum, 15%
Your final paper will be a 1500-word (6-page) comparison of two or more religions with at least one from the first half of the course (the “Traditions of the Book”: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) and one from the second half (the “Asian Traditions”: Daoism/Confucianism/Shinto, Hinduism, and Buddhism). You are free to compare any aspects of the traditions you choose, though you will develop a stronger “thesis” (the main point you are arguing in your paper) if you explore a single theme in depth rather than superficially touching on a number of issues. Examples of appropriate paper topics include:
I will be available (via Zoom) at the following times:
Tuesdays 2:00-3:30 ~ Wednesdays 11:00-12:00 ~ Thursdays 2:00-3:30 ~ Fridays ( Tea/Talk) 4:30-5:30
Home Page: http://bhoffert.faculty.noctrl.edu