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SO 328 Sociology of Religion
Reitz, Roland


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.

Course

SO 328 Sociology of Religion

Semester

F1T 2008 DL

Faculty

Reitz, Roland

Title

adjunct instructor

Degrees/Certificates

D-Min  -- Bethel Seminary -- St. Paul, MN
M-Div  -- Midwestern Seminary -- Kansas City, MO
B.A.  -- Southwest Baptist University -- Bolivar, MO

Office Hours

By Appointment

Daytime Phone

701-775-3261

E-Mail

roland.reitz@park.edu

drreitz@gra.midco.net

Semester Dates

18 August -- 12 October

Class Days

online

Class Time

online

Prerequisites

none

Credit Hours

3


Textbook:

Religion in the Contemporary World, 2nd Edition
Alan Aldridge
Polity Press, Malden, Massachusettes, 2007
ISBN: 9780745634043
 
Gods in the Global Village, 2nd Edition
Lester Kurtz
Pine Forge Press, July 2006
ISBN: 9781412927154
 

Textbooks can be purchased through the MBS bookstore

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Course Description:
SO 328 Sociology of Religion: Sociological analysis of religious organizations, movements, and experiences with an emphasis on historical and cross-cultural comparisons. The course surveys both large-scale religious trends, and demographic patterns and the social and cultural dimensions of individual religious feelings organizations, religious socialization, religious conflict, relations with other institutions, the world wide rise of fundamentalism; and the future of religion. 3:0:3

Educational Philosophy:

I believe learning is an interactive process including lecture, reading, application, and dialogue. In this class we will learn from one another as we share our life experiences and perspectives through interaction with one another and interaction with the readings. We will also learn from one another through a course project involving practical experience with a faith group outside one's own experience.

  Instructor Learning Outcomes

  1. Describe the major social functions and dysfunctions of religion
  2. Evaluate the effects of religious groups on social policies and the larger society
  3. Predict current trends in religion into the near future and explain their possible consequences
  4. Critique specific religious organizations and movements according to the church-cult continuum.
  5. Analyze the role of religions in social conflicts and their contributions to social stability
  6. Explain the group dynamics and social psychological effects of religious forms
Class Assessment:
Participation in weekly discussion threads is expected and worth a total of 240 points (30 pts x 8 weeks).
 
Each week for the first six weeks an assessment paper is required. Each paper is intended to be one page. Total points = 360. (60 points x 6 weeks)
 
The Core Learning Assessment is the term paper for this course. Approximately 3000 word (10 page) paper analyzing a religious community apart from your own. This project will require attendance at a religious service distinct from your own faith practice, interviewing members and clerics from that faith community, studying their own faith literature, and responding sociologically to that material. Establish how the community interacts with society and what sociological functions the community serves for its members and for the larger community. The paper is due at the end of week 7. The Core Learning Assessment is worth 200 points.
 
The final exam is a 50 question multiple choice test worth 200 points.

Grading:

Participation/Weekly discussions -- 240 points (30 points per week x 8 weeks)
Weekly Assessment Papers -- 360 points (60 points x 6 assignments)
Core Learning Assessment (Term Paper) -- 200 points
Final Exam  -- 200 points

Late Submission of Course Materials:
 In accordance with University policy. Late work is not accepted without prior arrangements being made with the instructor.

Classroom Rules of Conduct:
Please see University policy and follow appropriate netiquette practice. Additionally, as this is a course about the sociology of religion it is essential that respect be shown for different religious perspectives. Derogatory or defamatory remarks about other's faiths cannot and will not be tolerated. To facilitate learning about the sociology of religion it is important to be able to share and discuss various faith systems in an environment that allows for the free expression of religious beliefs and opinions.

Course Topic/Dates/Assignments:

Week 1 -- Religion and Pluralism

Reading:

    1. o Kurtz, chapter 1 – Religious Life in the Global Village
    2. o Aldridge, chapter 1 & 2 – Religions and the Challenge of Diversity

Assignment: After reading chapter 2 in Aldridge, choose a definition of religion (from a dictionary, internet, or other source) and respond to the definition. Support your opinion of the definition of religion from your own experiences and from the readings. No more than one page. 60 points

Week 2 -- Sociological Tour of Religions: Eastern Faiths, Categories of Religions, Church-Cult Continuum.

Reading:

    1. o Kurtz, chapter 2 – A Sociological Tour: Turning East
    2. o Aldridge, chapter 3 – Varieties of Religious Movements
Assignment: Examine a religious organization apart from your own and write a one page sociological assessment. You will examine two religious organizations during this course. One of which will become the basis for the Core Assessment due week 8. Visit a worship service of the religious organization you chose. In the assessment reflect on the religious system including beliefs, structure, and organization. "Step outside" the religious organization and assess religious culture, hierarchy, socio-economic standing of the members, possible roles of the faith group in the community, and other relevant issues. No more than one page. 60 points.
 
Week 3 -- Sociological Tour of Religion: Western Faiths, Rise of Fundamentalism

Reading:

    1. o Kurtz, chapter 3 – The Tour: Judaism, Christianity, Islam
    2. o Aldridge, chapter 6 – Fundamentalism
Assignment: Analyze a news report about a faith issue. Find the topic from multiple news sources (e.g. multiple news organizations – CNN and CNN online are considered same organization) and critique the religious issues raised. No more than one page. 60 points.
 
Week 4 -- Civil Religion, Religion and politics, Religious ethos 

Reading:

    1. o Kurtz, chapter 4 – The Religious Ethos
    2. o Aldridge, chapter 7 – Civil Religion and Political Ritual
Assignment: Examine a religious organization apart from your own and write a one page sociological assessment. You have now examined two religious organizations during this course. One of which will become the basis for the Core Assessment due week 7. One page. 60 points.
 
Week 5 -- Modernism, Multiculturalism, Secularism
 
Reading:
    1. o Kurtz, chapter 5 – Modernism and Multiculturalism
    2. o Aldridge, chapter 4 & 5 – Secularization
Assignment: Write a one page analysis of how your religious faith system or background, and how your personal belief system, is responding to the challenges of modernism, multiculturalism, and secularization. Project those current responses into the near future and explain possible outcomes in society and in for your faith group and/or for your personal faith. Support your answer with specific examples from your own life, and/or official standings from your faith group. One page. 60 points.
 
Week 6 -- New Religous Movements, Religious identity and meaning

Reading: 
    1. o Kurtz, chapter 6 – Religious Movements for a New Century
    2. o Aldridge, chapter 9 – Religious Identity and Meaning in a Consumer Society
Assignment: One page writing assignment analyzing and critiquing your own faith/belief system. Possible points to consider include – at different points in history where has your faith been considered along the cult-church continuum? How has your religion or lack thereof contributed to social conflict or social stability? What are the dynamics of your religious organization or faith movement? What are the effects of your faith group on social policies and the larger society? 60 points.
 
Week 7 -- Religion and Conflict
 
Reading: Kurtz, chapter 7 – Religion and Social Conflict
 
Core Learning Assessment - Approximately 3000 word (10 pages) paper analyzing a religious community apart from your own. This project will require attendance at a religious service distinct from your own faith practice, interviewing members and clerics from that faith community, studying their own faith literature, and responding sociologically to that material. Establish how the community interacts with society and what sociological functions the community serves for its members and for the larger community. 200 points.

Week 8 -- State and Religion

Reading: Aldridge, chapter 8 – Brainwashing, Consumer Protection and the State
Final Exam: 200 points
 

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:
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.
ONLINE NOTE: An attendance report of "P" (present) will be recorded for students who have logged in to the Online classroom at least once during each week of the term. Recording of attendance is not equivalent to participation. Participation grades will be assigned by each instructor according to the criteria in the Grading Policy section of the syllabus.

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: http://www.park.edu/disability .

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This material is protected by copyright and can not be reused without author permission.

Last Updated:8/10/2008 5:40:01 PM