SO 328 Sociology of Religion
S1T 2009 DL
B.A. PsychologyMaster of DivinityDoctor of Ministry
January - March 2009
Textbooks can be purchased through the MBS bookstore
Textbooks can be purchased through the Parkville Bookstore
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Learning will be determined by your involvement. 24% of your grade will be based on participation in weekly discussions. I will read and respond to the discussion threads regularly.
The on-line environment provides opportunities for non-linear discussions. Discussions can grow throughout the week rather than being restricted to a one hour class. On-line classes allow for greater diversity of students, with students literally around the world. This increases our opportunity to learn from a diverse group impossible in a traditional classroom. I encourage you to be regularly involved in the discussions.
36% of your grade is from weekly assessment papers to be placed in the drop box. These require you to demonstrate application of the Core Learning Objectives -- effects of religion, role religions play in society, how religion contributes to social stability, religion’s impact on social policy. The intent of the weekly assignments is for you to apply the key concepts from the week to contemporary issues. Understanding the key concepts is valuable for your continued study, important for the weekly assignment, and essential for the final exam.
The Core Learning Assessment is 20% of your grade requiring you to conduct original independent research applying the sociological principles you have learned. The final is 20% of your grade demonstrating your cognitive grasp of the objectives.
Instructor Learning Outcomes
Respond to weekly discussion threads. At least five posts are required for full points. Five posts includes at least 1 original post and at least one response to another student’s post. The first post should be entered by Wednesday midnight. For more details see “Participation” under Course Home. 30 points x 8 weeks = 240 points
Core Learning Assessment
Core Learning Assessment - 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. Use of resources, and documenting your references according to APA format is important. Establish how the community interacts with society and what sociological functions the community serves for its members and for the larger community. Consideration of key concepts from the course should be included. Concepts you may want to address in your paper include how the faith is world-affirming, world-rejecting, or world accommodating; how it is responding to secularism, multiculturalism, and modernity; the rise of fundamentalism etc. Remember the sociological approaches to studying religion discussed week one. Also, pay attention to the Core Learning Assessment rubric. The Core Learning Assessment = 200 points.
Final exam: 50 question multiple choice test = 200 points.
Core Learning Assessment -- 200 points
Final Exam -- 200 points
A = 900-1000 90%-100%
B = 800-899 80%-89%
C = 700-799 70%-79%
D = 600-699 60%-69%
F = <600 <60%
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. This is not a forum to proselytize or attempt to evangelize. This is a forum to learn from other's experiences, traditions, faiths, and backgrounds. This is also a forum to recognize the roles provided by various faiths.
Week 1 – The Challenge of Diversity
After reading chapter 2 in Aldridge, choose a definition of religion from a dictionary, internet, or other source and respond to the definition in a 1-2 page paper. The definition may be serious or humorous. Support your opinion of the definition of religion from your own experiences and from the readings and lecture. Be familiar with the concepts of inclusive vs. exclusive definitions of religion. Be familiar with how Marx, Weber, and Durkheim defined religion. Consider whether the definition is inclusive or exclusive. 60 points
1) Recognize and identify the role your faith group has historically had in society. Understand and explain how your faith has interacted with society. Consider concepts from the reading including world affirming, world rejecting, and world accommodating? Identify where your faith group would be categorized now and at various times in history. What role has your faith played in social conflicts?
2) Kurtz discusses religious life in the global village. Provide examples of how your faith has responded to the diversity in the religious marketplace. Share examples from your own life of how you have been impacted by the religious marketplace. Identify specific social changes (e.g. immigration, homosexual issues etc.)your faith group has dealt with and how that has changed your faith group.
By the end of this section you should be able to demonstrate the following:
1) understand the challenge of defining religion
2) provide a personal definition of religion
3) explain the follow concepts: diversity, religious marketplace, sacred canopy, elective affinity
Categories of Religions, Church-Cult Continuum
Observe a worship service of a religious organization other than your own and write a one to two page sociological assessment. Consider the socio-economics and demographics of the religious organization. Reflect on the beliefs, structure, hierarchy and organization of the religious organization. Discuss how the religious organization is world affirming, world rejecting or world accommodating. How might one categorize the religious organization? Where might one place the religious organization along the church-cult continuum and why? Apply key concepts from this week's lecture and reading to your analysis. 1-2 pages. 60 points.
This is the first of two observations of a religious organization. One of the two may be the basis for the Core Assessment due week 7.
1) Discuss your experiences with Eastern Faiths. Do NOT include Islam because we will be looking at Islam next week. Consider faiths such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Shintoism, and Taoism, etc. Understand how your experiences with these faiths have been influenced by Western culture.
Week 3 -- Sociological Tour of Religion: Western Faiths
Rise of Fundamentalism
Analyze a news report about a faith issue and critique the religious issues raised. Consider why that particular faith issue is in the news. How does that issue relate to the challenges of diversity? How does the issue relate to concepts of the sacred canopy, religious marketplace, or elective affinity? What groups does that particular faith issue resonate with? Does it relate to the rise of fundamentalism? Apply key concepts from this week's lecture and reading to your analysis. Present your conclusions and sociological assessment in a 1-2 page paper. 60 points.
1) Define fundamentalism and identify examples of the rise of fundamentalism in your community, and in your faith group. If you seen fundamentalism increase within your faith group, then explain how your faith group has encountered and responded to fundamentalist movements in society.
Week 4 -- Civil Religion, Religion and politics, Religious ethos
This is the second of two observations of a religious organization. One of the two may be the basis for the Core Assessment due week 7. Having completed this assignment, now would be a good time to begin work on the Core Assessment. If you have questions about the Core Learning Assessment please begin asking those questions.
1) Demonstrate comprehension of the concept of “civil religion” by providing contemporary examples, and explaining how those examples support or disagree with Aldridge’s discussion of civil religion and the religious ethos.
Week 5 -- Modernism, Multiculturalism, Secularism
Having looked at other faith systems and news stories and critiqued them sociologically, it is time to apply those same tools to assessing your faith. Write a one to two 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 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. Discuss how the rise of fundamentalism has impacted your faith group. Discuss how other contemporary events; e.g. homosexual issues, politics, abortion, immigration etc, are impacting or being responded to by your religious faith system. Where might your faith group be categorized along the world affirming, world accommodating, world rejecting continuum and why? Apply key concepts from the reading and lecture to your analysis. One to two pages. 60 points
1) Identify examples of how modernism and multiculturalism have impacted your faith group. Provide specific examples of a modern challenge and the way your faith group has responded. Consider structural, dramaturgical, institutional, and subjective responses to modernism and multiculturalism.
Week 6 -- New Religious Movements, Religious identity and meaning
This week we continue using the skills we have learned to study religion. Having critiqued your own faith system last week we get to consider the religious identity, meaning, and impact your faith system has on community. Bring together the points you made last week as you consider the history of and current identity of your faith 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 religious organization 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? Analyze your faith group from institutional, structural, dramaturgical, and subjective approaches. When and where has your faith group been considered a New Religious Movement? When and how did it move beyond that category? Apply key concepts from this week's reading and leactures in your analysis. 1-2 pages, 60 points
1) Discuss emerging issues concerning gender, sexual orientation, and consumerism as they impact religious identity in contemporary culture. What have been the social functions and/or dysfunctions relating to these emerging issues?
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. Consider socio-economic, cultural, demographic issues. Analyze the religious community from institutional, dramaturgical, structural and subjective perspectives. How does this analysis agree with or dispute the claims of their literature or the claims of outsiders about the religious community? Is the religious community world affirming, world accommodating, or world rejecting? In what ways? How is the religious community addressing the challenges of modernity, multiculturalism, and secularism? How has the rise of fundamentalism effected the religious community? What is the interplay between the religious community and the larger community? How does the community deal with the religious marketplace? What does their sacred canopy look like or how does it meet the needs of members? Approximately 10 pages. 200 points. For more information see the grading rubric.
1) Demonstrate your grasp on sociological terms and methods of studying religions by analyzing the role religion has played in social conflict. Cite examples of religion furthering conflicts as well as examples of religion being on the side of solving conflict. How has religion been used to promote peace and used to promote conflict. Since it is probably easier to see the role of religion in promoting conflict find specific examples of religion assuaging conflict and building community.
Week 8 -- State and Religion
Reading: Aldridge, chapter 8 – Brainwashing, Consumer Protection and the State
1) Describe the role the state has played in providing consumer protection in the area of religion. Support your description with specific examples.
2) Apply your learning of sociology of religion in the discussion of brainwashing, consumer protection and the role and responsibility of the state.
Final Exam: 200 points
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Last Updated:1/2/2009 10:10:18 AM