RE109 World Religions

for FA 2008

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Mission Statement: The mission of Park University, an entrepreneurial institution of learning, is to provide access to academic excellence, which will prepare learners to think critically, communicate effectively and engage in lifelong learning while serving a global community.

Vision Statement: Park University will be a renowned international leader in providing innovative educational opportunities for learners within the global society.


RE 109 World Religions


FA 2008 HO


Blasdell, Machrina


Assistant Professor and Program Coordinator of Philosophy & Religion


MA  Arizona State University   Religious Studies, 1980
MDiv. Church Divinity School of the Pacific, 1984

Office Location

Mabee 208A

Office Hours

Monday 12:00-1:30 pm;  Tuesday and Thursday 9:00-10:00 am;  11:40-1:00 pm;  by appointment

Daytime Phone

Office:  816-584-6821


Semester Dates

August 18, 2008-December 12, 2007

Class Days


Class Time

1:00 - 2:15 PM



Credit Hours



Living Religions, seventh edition, by Mary Pat Fisher and TIME Special Edition: World Religions (The two should come bundled together.)

Textbooks can be purchased through the Parkville Bookstore

Additional Resources:

McAfee Memorial Library - Online information, links, electronic databases and the Online catalog. Contact the library for further assistance via email or at 800-270-4347.
Career Counseling - The Career Development Center (CDC) provides services for all stages of career development.  The mission of the CDC is to provide the career planning tools to ensure a lifetime of career success.
Park Helpdesk - If you have forgotten your OPEN ID or Password, or need assistance with your PirateMail account, please email or call 800-927-3024
Resources for Current Students - A great place to look for all kinds of information

Course Description:
An introduction to the religion of humankind from the earliest records of spiritual life to the great religions of today. The course recognizes the possibilities of dialogue among the living traditions around the world and the resources within the local community. 3:0:3

Educational Philosophy:

I believe in the importance of interaction between students and instructor, students and students, arising out of lectures, readings, quizzes, discussion, examinations, internet resources, videos, web sites and writings.  I will challenge students to know the history and geography of their place in the world community and to be aware of movements around them.  I expect students to pay attention to maps, to the news, and to what people are doing and saying in the world.

  Instructor Learning Outcomes

  1. Trace the general developmental history of the major world religions.
  2. Demonstrate a basic understanding of the differences and similarities between the major religions of the world.
  3. Discuss the impact of religion on current world events.
  4. Recognize the cultural contributions of the world's religions.
Class Assessment:

Students will be expected to attend class, to complete assignments (notably, the readings), and to participate actively in class discussion. Occasional reflection papers may be assigned. You will be asked to note what is happening in the world of religion and to bring your information to class. There will be exams following each section.  Students may be allowed to contract for additional work toward a higher grade.


Your final grade will be determined by the total number of points you accumulate in the course.  Point totals will be curved at the end of the term, and will be assessed on a roughly 90/80/70/60 scale.  Those wishing to pursue an A are encouraged to take advantage of the options below.


Each exam will be worth between 100-125 points.  Exam material will be wide-ranging and may cover material in the text, discussion and lecture in class, student presentations and videos, religion in the news.


Attendance and participation can earn a possible 40 points.  When there is a compelling reason for an absence, please speak with the instructor. This is an area where students begin with full points and lose them for absence and non-participation.


Reflection papers may earn a possible 15 points each, for a total of 60 points.  During the course of the semester you may write two page reflection papers, one on each of four topics:  one visit to a place of worship different from the student’s tradition, one viewing of a current movie or television show which touches on a religious theme, one current news piece involving religion, and one piece of “whimsy,” whether a comic or tee shirt or music lyrics and so on.   The papers must be typed, specific as to topic with attached supportive materials (worship bulletin, admission ticket, news article, etc.), and submitted at least one in each month of August, September, October, November.  Papers may always be submitted early, and students are encouraged to do this.  The minimum standard for students pursuing this option, however, requires that students submit one paper in each month.  Students may determine the order in which the subjects are addressed.  No papers will be accepted after the end of November.  Additional details of contracting for this option will be discussed in class.


A brief contribution to the class of cultural aspects of a religion may earn an additional 15 points.  Students may choose a religion from the syllabus for focus.  At the appointed time for consideration of that religion, the student will present something of the religion through its art, food, music, flowers, clothing-  whatever serves to illustrate better than words what a people believe.   Points will be awarded for creativity, expansion of the classroom experience, effort, and sensitivity to the religious expression.  Those students wishing to exercise this option for additional points must notify the instructor in writing on or before September 2nd .

Late Submission of Course Materials:

Exams must be taken on time and with the class.  Exceptions to this are at the sole discretion of the instructor and are only for good cause.  Assignments are expected to be turned in on time. Exceptions may be made for good cause at the discretion of the instructor.  When assignments are turned in late, they may be docked credit.

Classroom Rules of Conduct:

Behavior consistent with Park University standards will be the norm in our class.  We will be discussing a variety of religious beliefs and practices, and respect for the variety of understandings is expected. Students will be expected to arrive on time and stay for the entire class period.  Those who arrive more than 15 minutes late, leave early or who fail to correct the attendance record, may be recorded as absent. When exceptions to this are necessary or unavoidable, prior arrangements must be made with the instructor.  Cell phone use during class for conversation or text messaging is rude and distracting, and will not be tolerated.  While occasional exceptions may be necessary, for the most part, cell phones should turned off.  Computer use is discouraged unless it is necessary for note taking.

Course Topic/Dates/Assignments:

Our schedule will proceed  along the following lines:

August 19 & 21:  Introduction to course, class, and study of religions;  What is religion?   
Assignment: Read chapter 1;  read articles in TIME under The Religious Experience and The Impact of Religion.

August 26 & August 28: Religious Responses
Assignment:  Read chapter 2;  review The Religious Experience:  Birth and Childhood.

September 2 & 4: Indigenous Sacred Ways
Assignment: Read chapter 3;  review in TIME The Religious Experience:  Mohandas Gandhi;  review in TIME The Impact of Religion:  In the Heart of Hate.

First Exam

September 9 & 11: Hinduism
Assignment:  Read chapter 4.

September 16 & 18: Hinduism & Jainism
Assignment:  Read chapter 5;  read in TIME the articles under Buddhism.

September 23& 25:  Buddhism
Assignment: Continue reading.

September 30 & October 2:  Religions of India, continued
Assignment: Continue reading and review.

October 7 & 9:   Religions of India and their expansion to East and West
Assignment:  Continue reading and review.  Read chapter 6 for consideration after Fall Break.

Second Exam will be given October 9:  no exceptions.

October 14 & 16:  Fall Break- no classes

October 21 & 23:  Daoism and Confucianism
Assignment:  Read chapter 7.

October 28 & 30:  Religion in Japan:  Shinto
Assignment:  Read short piece on Zoroastrianism, pp. 222-225.  Read chapter 8;  read  in TIME the articles under Judaism;  review  The Religious Experience:  The Legacy of Abraham.

Third Exam will be given October 30.

November 4 & 6:  Zoroastrianism & Judaism
Assignment:  Read chapter 9;  read in TIME the articles under Christianity.

November 11 (Veteran's Day holiday:  no class) & 13:  Christianity
Assignment:  Continue reading.

November 18 & 20:    Islam
Assignment:   Read chapter 10;  read in TIME the articles under Islam.
November 25 : Islam.  November 27 No class:  Thanksgiving break.
Assignment: Read chapter 11; read in TIME “As American as…” .  Review for last exam.

December 2 & 4:  Islam (cont’d) and Sikhism 
(Last week of class)
Assignment:  Read chapters 12 & 13 for discussion next week. Review TIME articles under The Impact of Religion.

Fourth Exam will be given  December 4.  No exceptions.

December 9 & 11: 
Final Exam Week        We will not have a cumulative final exam.   The class may meet during the final exam time to consider the material in the last two chapters of the text: New Religious Movements & Religion in the Twenty-first Century.

Assignment:  Take a couple deep breaths and enjoy the break!

ALL OF THE ABOVE SHOULD BE CONSIDERED FLEXIBLE AND SUBJECT TO IMPROVEMENT according to the needs and interests of the class.  Additional readings and activities may be assigned.            

Academic Honesty:
Academic integrity is the foundation of the academic community. Because each student has the primary responsibility for being academically honest, students are advised to read and understand all sections of this policy relating to standards of conduct and academic life.   Park University 2008-2009 Undergraduate Catalog Page 87

Plagiarism involves the use of quotations without quotation marks, the use of quotations without indication of the source, the use of another's idea without acknowledging the source, the submission of a paper, laboratory report, project, or class assignment (any portion of such) prepared by another person, or incorrect paraphrasing. Park University 2008-2009 Undergraduate Catalog Page 87

Attendance Policy:
Instructors are required to maintain attendance records and to report absences via the online attendance reporting system.

  1. The instructor may excuse absences for valid reasons, but missed work must be made up within the semester/term of enrollment.
  2. Work missed through unexcused absences must also be made up within the semester/term of enrollment, but unexcused absences may carry further penalties.
  3. In the event of two consecutive weeks of unexcused absences in a semester/term of enrollment, the student will be administratively withdrawn, resulting in a grade of "F".
  4. A "Contract for Incomplete" will not be issued to a student who has unexcused or excessive absences recorded for a course.
  5. Students receiving Military Tuition Assistance or Veterans Administration educational benefits must not exceed three unexcused absences in the semester/term of enrollment. Excessive absences will be reported to the appropriate agency and may result in a monetary penalty to the student.
  6. Report of a "F" grade (attendance or academic) resulting from excessive absence for those students who are receiving financial assistance from agencies not mentioned in item 5 above will be reported to the appropriate agency.

Park University 2008-2009 Undergraduate Catalog Page 89-90

Disability Guidelines:
Park University is committed to meeting the needs of all students that meet the criteria for special assistance. These guidelines are designed to supply directions to students concerning the information necessary to accomplish this goal. It is Park University's policy to comply fully with federal and state law, including Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, regarding students with disabilities. In the case of any inconsistency between these guidelines and federal and/or state law, the provisions of the law will apply. Additional information concerning Park University's policies and procedures related to disability can be found on the Park University web page: .


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Last Updated:8/9/2008 7:58:47 PM