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.

 
JudaismChristianityIslamDaoismConfucianismShintoHinduismBuddhism
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:

APossesses a deep understanding of the major concepts and themes of the course. The “A” student is able to consistently identify and explain key ideas in the readings, develop genuine insights into the broader significance of these concepts, and demonstrate a high level of intellectual engagement in class discussions.
BDemonstrates a serious commitment to the course and a strong grasp of the major concepts and themes but with less depth and/or consistency than the “A” student.
CDemonstrates a reasonable effort to attend class and participate in discussions as well as a basic grasp of the course material.
DDemonstrates a minimal commitment to the course and a weak grasp of basic concepts and themes.
FFails to demonstrate an acceptable degree of effort in the course through low attendance, inability to discuss basic concepts and themes, missed assignments and/or plagiarized work.
 
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Learning Outcome: archer shooting at target
Learning Outcomes
By the end of this course, you should be able to:
 
  • understand the fundamental beliefs and practices of various religious traditions
  • identify the characteristics of religious pluralism
  • compare the teachings and practices of at least two religious traditions
  • apply the basic skills associated with the academic study of religion
  • engage in and reflect on the contemplative dimension of religion
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    Class Participation icon
    Class Participation

    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.

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    Living Religions Textbook Cover
    REVEL for Living Religions (10th Edition)

    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.

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    "Quiz Time"
    REVEL Quizzes

    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%.

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    Writing Assignments
    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.
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    Diverse group of people holding a sign that says "Perspectives on Religion"
    Religious Autobiography
    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.
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    Reflection Papers
    750-Word Minimum, Best 4 of 6, 4x10=40%
    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.
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    Comparing Apples to Oranges
    Comparative Paper
    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:
    • similarities and/or differences in the way that various traditions conceive of and respond to “ultimate reality”
    • the relationship between monotheism and polytheism in Christianity and Hinduism or the contrast between strictly monotheistic traditions like Judaism and Islam and non-theistic traditions like certain forms of Buddhism and Daoism
    • the emphasis on ritual in Judaism, Islam or Confucianism as opposed to the rejection of ritual in early Daoism, which values the freedom and spontaneity that is attained through wuwei (non-purposive action)
    • the contrast between “faith” in a source of power beyond oneself (in traditions like Christianity, Islam, and Pure Land Buddhism) and “self-cultivation” as a means of tapping into a source of power that lies within (in traditions like Confucianism, Daoism, and Zen Buddhism)
    • the pursuit of “other-worldly” goals, such as eternal salvation in a Christian, Islamic, Hindu, or Pure Land Buddhist heaven, as opposed to “this-worldly” goals, such as “repairing the world” in Judaism, becoming a Daoist sage and merging with the Way, or attaining satori (awakening) in Zen Buddhism
    Regardless of your topic, your paper should employ the “phenomenological” approach to the study of religion, which is to say that you should present an objective examination of the religions in question while avoiding (insofar as is possible) any subjective biases based on personal beliefs. Finally, your paper should include references to the course text and at least four additional academic sources. For details on grading, see the Comparative Paper Rubric below.
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    Virtual Office Hours & Contact Info
    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
    Phone: 630-637-5619
    E-mail: bhoffert@noctrl.edu
    Home Page: http://bhoffert.faculty.noctrl.edu
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    Unsatisfactory
    0 - .65

    Satisfactory
    .75

    Good
    .85

    Excellent
    .95

    MARK

    LENGTH

    <500 words

    500-750 words

    750-1000 words

    >1000 words

    1%

    STYLE

    Excessive stylistic errors (spelling, grammar, etc.).

    Ideas areadequately expressed but there are many stylistic errors.

    Ideas are clearly expressed with some stylistic errors.

    Ideas are eloquently expressed with few stylistic errors.

    2%

    EVOLUTION OF RELIGIOUS BELIEFS

    The evolution of your religious beliefs is minimally discussed.

    The evolution of your religious beliefs is adequately discussed.

    The evolution of your religious beliefs is clearly discussed.

    The evolution of your religious beliefs is insightfully discussed.

    5%

    REFLECTION ON RELIGIOUS BELIEFS

    Your religious beliefs are not explored in sufficient detail.

    The paper exhibits minimal reflection on your religious beliefs.

    The paper exhibits genuine reflection on your religious beliefs.

    The paper exhibits deep reflection on your religious beliefs.

    2%

    TOTAL

     

     

     

     

    10%

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    Unsatisfactory
    0 - .65

    Satisfactory
    .75

    Good
    .85

    Excellent
    .95

    MARK

    LENGTH

    <500 words

    500-750 words

    750-1000 words

    >1000 words

    1%

    STYLE

    Excessive stylistic errors (spelling, grammar, etc.).

    Ideas areadequately expressed but there are many stylistic errors.

    Ideas are clearly expressed with some stylistic errors.

    Ideas are eloquently expressed with few stylistic errors.

    2%
    REFERENCES TO ACADEMIC SOURCESThere are significant problems with the references to the course text and/or academic sources.The paper lacks appropriate references to the course text and/or academic sources.
    The paper has appropriate references to the course text and at least 2 academic sources.The paper is significantly enhanced by references to the course text and at least 3 academic sources.2%

    REFLECTION QUESTION

    The paper does not adequately respond to one of the reflection questions for this section of the course.

    There is a minimal or superficial response to one of the reflection questions for this section of the course.

    There is an appropriate response to one of the reflection questions for this section of the course.

    There is an insightful response to one of the reflection questions for this section of the course.

    5%

    TOTAL

     

     

     

     

    10%

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    Unsatisfactory
    0 - .65

    Satisfactory
    .75

    Good
    .85

    Excellent
    .95

    MARK

    LENGTH

    <1250 words

    1250-1500 words

    1500-1750 words

    >1750 words

    2%

    STYLE

    Excessive stylistic errors (spelling, grammar, etc.).

    Ideas are adequately expressed but there are many stylistic errors.

    Ideas are clearly expressed with no more than 4 stylistic errors.

    Ideas are eloquently  expressed with no more than 3 stylistic errors.

    3%
    REFERENCES TO ACADEMIC SOURCESThere are significant problems with the references to the course text and/or academic sources.The paper lacks appropriate references to the course text and/or academic sources.
    The paper has appropriate references to the course text and at least 4 academic sources. The paper is significantly enhanced by references to the course text and at least 5 academic sources. 3%

    COMPARISON OF RELIGIONS

    There are significant problems with the comparison of religions.

    There is a superficial comparison and/or problems with the phenomenological approach.

     There is a thoughtful comparison of religions that employs the phenomenological approach.

    There is an insightful comparison of religions that demonstrates a high degree of objectivity.

    5%

    THESIS

    The paper lacks a clear thesis.

    The thesis is not stated in the introduction and/or not sufficiently discussed in the conclusion.

    The thesis is stated in the introduction and appropriately discussed in the conclusion.

    The thesis is clearly stated in the introduction and insightfully discussed in the conclusion.

    2%

    TOTAL

     

     

     

     

    15%

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