SO 328 Sociology of Religion
U1T 2010 DL
B.A. PsychologyMaster of DivinityDoctor of Ministry
June -- July 2010
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. Every week you are expected to enter an initial post to each question thread (FAQ? not required) by Wednesday at midnight. The initial discussion posts need to be a balance of research and opinion. I expect you to back up your beliefs and opinions with solid research and information from your textbooks, other books/journals, and the internet. By Sunday at midnight you need to have responded to other students posts for a total of five substantitive comments to the discussion threads for full points for the week. (This is a total of five posts; not five per question. However, there must be at least an initial post to each discussion thread for full points) Each initial post is expected to be a minimum of 200 words.
BOTH initial posts need to have two supporting citations within the post and the reference cited listed at the end of the post. One reference must be from a source other than your textbooks or lectures. 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%
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 sacred canopy, religious marketplace, and elective affinity. How have these concepts effected your faith; or how has your faith reacted to them. What role has your faith played in social conflicts or social calm? Aldridge discusses how religions have traditionally answered some of life's fundamental questions including theodicy. What roles and what questions has your faith provided historically and in your life?
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
Visit a worship service or activity sponsored by a faith group other than your own. Based on your observations write a one-two page sociological assessment. 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. Consider whether the faith group might be considered world-affirming, world-accommodating, or world-rejecting and why you would categorize them as such. Be sure to include personal reflection on your experience. You may wish to think in terms of structural, dramaturgical, institutional, or subjective mehtods of studying a faith group.
(You will examine two religious organizations during this course; this is your first opportunity to examine a religious organization during the course. One of the two religious organizations may be the basis for the Core Assessment due week 7.)
1) Eastern Faiths include Hinudism, Buddhism, Taoism, Shintoism and others. In today's religious marketplace experience with Eastern Faiths is common, whether that experience is personal, or via the internet or news. Discuss your experiences with Eastern Faiths, and questions and feedback concerning Eastern faiths. Where might these faiths, as you encountered them, be located along the world-affirming, world-accommodating, world-rejecting continuum?
Week 3 -- Sociological Tour of Religion: Western Faiths
Rise of Fundamentalism
Analyze a current news report about a faith issue. Critique the religious issues raised. Are there examples of fundamentalism? What does the article suggest about the role of faith in the context of the article? Does this suggest the faith/faith issue involved is an example of a world-affirming, world-accommodating, or world-rejecting faith? Is this an illustration of a sacred canopy, or of the religious marketplace? Is there an example of elective affinity? Why or why not? Connect the news story to the concepts we have learned in the first three weeks of the course. One to two pages required. 60 points.
Week 4 -- Civil Religion, Religion and politics, Religious ethos
1) This week our authors discussed "civil religion." Discuss from your experiences whether “Civil Religion” is an oxymoron? Discuss civil religion based on the reading and your experiences. How has "civil religion" impacted your religion?
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) How have modernism and multiculturalism impacted your area and the various faith groups in your area? Remember modernism refers to various modern technologies, and to philosophical assumptions. Consider how modernism has impacted religions at national and international levels, and also at the local mosque/synagogue/church level..
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. How are these issues effecting your religious group, or your beliefs? How are these issues impacting and being responded to by your faith group?
2) Respond to arguments for and against a distinction between spirituality and religion. Is there a difference? Quantitatively and qualitatively what is that difference from a sociological perspective?
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? 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.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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Additional Information:One question that arises is, "I don't have a particular faith, should I just make one up, or use one from my childhood in the discussions?" The simple answer is "no." Please write and discuss from your perspective. Historically, the position of not having a faith is fairly new. That position is valid and important to our discussion. It is important to hear from that perspective too.
Last Updated:5/19/2010 9:51:45 AM