RE109 World Religions

for SP 2011

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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.


RE109:  World Religions


SP 2011 HO


Forester, Andrew W.


Adjunct Faculty, Religion and Philosophy


B.S. Missouri State University
M. Div. Midwestern Baptist Seminary

Office Hours

By Appointment

Daytime Phone



Class Days


Class Time

11 - 11:50

Credit Hours



World Religions Today, Third Edition.  2008.  New York:  Oxford
John L. Esposito, Darrell J. Fasching and Todd Lewis
ISBN13: 9780195365634
ISBN10: 0195365631

Textbooks can be purchased through the Parkville Bookstore

Additional Resources:

(This is a companion website, not a substitute for the book.)

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:
 RE 109(MGE) World Religions: 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.

Educational Philosophy:
The instructor's educational philosophy incorporates multiple communication mediums to introduce and reinforce concepts.  Learners will be encouraged to engage in discussion, introspective journaling, lectures, readings, exams, discussion boards, group projects to add to the overall environment of free inquiry and expression of ideas in the classroom.

  Instructor Learning Outcomes

  1. To increase individual awareness of how religious frameworks influence everyday decisions.
  2. To identify and understand key terms and concepts necessary for participating in academic religious conversations.
  3. To increase appreciation for the diverse practices and belief structures around the world.
  4. To identify major beliefs and practices of current major world religions
  5. To understand and critically evaluate our own beliefs and practices.
Class Assessment:
1.  Class Participation (100 Points):  The class participation grade will be enhanced by actions such as attendance and timeliness, regular and pertinent participation in class discussions, evidence of preparation for class, thoughtful regard for and interaction with other students and insightful questions.  Class participation will be decrease by actions such as lack of preparation, poor attitude, lack of classroom participation, being late with assignments, tardiness, and unexcused absences.  This grade will be given at three times during the semester.  With regard to class participation, the operative question is not, "How little can I do to get by?" but rather, "How much am I willing to contribute to the learning environment of this class?"

2.  Group Observation/Presentation (100 Points):  During the course, students will be formed into groups of three and observe a sacred meeting or worship service of faith group different from their own.  Students will particularly observe 1.) the structure and elements used in worship; 2.) the demographics, actions and reactions of participants; 3.) the role of the leaders, officiants or clergy in the worship service.  After observing the group, students will prepare a four-five page report and 8-10 minute presentation of their experience.  Students will receive an individual grade for their personal contribution (50 points) and a group grade for the collective effort (50 points). 
3. Investigative Biography (75 Points):  Students will choose an important religious figure from a minor faith tradition, sect or cult and submit a 3-5 page report.  The report should focus on: 1.) details of the person's life and work and 2.) how that person's ideas affect contemporary culture.   
4. Threaded Discussions (200 Points):  During the course, four questions will be posed for discussion in the course website.  Students will participate in threaded discussions around themes from the reading, lecture and discussions.  Posts must be at least 300 words in length and each student must also post 150 word responses to two other student postings. All postings are due before class on the due date. Each posting is worth 50 points.
5.  Movie Review (75 Points):  Students will select a movie with themes and ideas that are related to the course content.  After reviewing the movie, students will submit a 3-5 page review of 1.) the main characters; 2.) the plot or story line; 3.) specific scenes or sequences that illustrate concepts from the course.
6. Major Paper (200 Points):  Students will write a 5-7 page paper on a topic of interest relevant to the course.  All topics must be approved by the instructor.  See writing guidelines below.
7. Exams (250 Points): During the course of the semester, students will be given two regular exams (75 points each) and a final exam (100 points)On the final exam, students will be expected to synthesize material from readings, lectures, group presentations, and life experience in an essay format.
7. Extra Credit (Millions and Millions of Life Experience Points): Extra credit opportunities will be announced in class. In the past, extra credit opportunities have included attending (and writing a short response to) lectures, exhibits, service projects or cultural events. These opportunities are optional and will be provided at the instructor’s discretion. Students who have a fair or poor attendance/participation record should not presume that extra credit opportunities will be offered to them.

Writing Requirements: A high quality of writing and grammar usage is important in the production of all class work and assignments. Assignments that show a lack of attention and/or low proficiency in writing and grammar skills will be returned un-graded for correction and resubmission. If resubmission of an assignment makes the assignment late, late penalties will apply. The following standards have been established by Dr. Steve Atkinson for evaluating the Writing Competency Test (WCT). All Park students are required to pass the WCT, so it is to the student's advantage to begin practicing these standards.

Focus:  An "A" is awarded to a paper whose controlling idea seems not only clear but particularly thoughtful or imaginative. A "B" indicates a focus that is clear and sustained throughout but that may not be especially original. A "C" indicates satisfactory competence: the focus is clear but commonplace or conventional. "D" and "F" papers lack focus.

Development:  An "A" is awarded to a paper that, whatever its length, seems to the reader to be a full discussion. It makes use of both the material from the supplied readings and also ideas, experiences, or information supplied by the writer. All the material is smoothly integrated and persuasively supports the paper's focus. The writer seems to be a thoughtful, critical reader of the material with a genuine personal "voice." A "B" indicates that the writer has incorporated the material both appropriately in terms of content and smoothly in terms of style, and has also contributed personal ideas and experiences to the discussion. The paper's focus is clearly supported. A "C" in this category indicates an essay that makes at least some use of the supplied readings and some other material to support its focus, though the use may not always be relevant, and the sources not discussed critically. "D" and "F" papers make no use of the sources, fail to provide coherent support for the paper's focus, or whose use consists of unmarked quotations (copying from the sources word-for-word.)

Organization:  An "A" paper is not only easy to follow, its structure seems effortless because of smooth transitions and a convincing rhetorical pattern. A "B" is awarded to the paper that has a clear paragraphing and a logical sequence of topics. A "C" paper is generally easy to follow, with reasonable paragraphing, though the discussion may wander briefly. "D" and "F" papers are difficult to follow, either because the sequence of topics is not logical, because it is repetitive, or because the paragraphing is not helpful.

Mechanics:  An "A" paper reads exceptionally smoothly, and the reader notices no errors in grammar, usage, punctuation, or spelling. The "B" paper may contain an occasional problem in sentence structure or diction, but the reader is never seriously distracted. In a "C" paper, there may be enough mechanical problems to distract the reader temporarily, but it is always possible to understand what the writer means.  "D" and "F" papers have severe problems with sentence structure or word choice -- severe enough so that the meaning is difficult or impossible to understand.




Points Possible

My Points

1a. Class Participation – Midterm



1b. Class Participation - End of Term



2.Group Observation/Presentation



3  Investigative Biography



4a.  Discussion Question #1



4b.  Discussion Question #2



4c.  Discussion Question #3



4d.  Discussion Question #4



5.  Movie Review 



6.  Major Paper



7a.  Exam #1   



7b.  Exam #2



7c.  Final Exam






Total Points



Late Submission of Course Materials:

Late work will not be accepted. Work missed due to an “Excused” absence must be turned in by the next class period and will not carry a penalty. A dated note from the doctor, a prescription or car repair receipt will be required to validate excused abscences.  

Classroom Rules of Conduct:

Cell Phones/Electronic Devices:    Students who are expecting an emergency phone call, may leave a phone or pager on if  it is set to silent or vibrate. Students will notify the instructor in advance of the emergency.  If an emergency call or text is received, it must be taken outside of the classroom.  Cell phone usage (including: receiving, answering and making phone calls; text messaging, and direct-connecting) is prohibited from the time class begins until dismissed.  

Course Topic/Dates/Assignments:

A course schedule will be distributed separately during the second week of class.

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 students and faculty members are encouraged to take advantage of the University resources available for learning about academic honesty ( or Park University 2010-2011 Undergraduate Catalog Page 92

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. from Park University 2010-2011 Undergraduate Catalog Page 92-93
Penalties for Plagiarism include:
- verbal reprimand,
- assignment of a lower grade on the assignment in question,
- assignment of failing grade in the course
- expulsion from the course with a passing grade (W)
- expulsion from the course with a failing grade (WF)
- referral to the Student Code of Conduct Administrator for consideration of suspension or expulsion from Park University.

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 2010-2011 Undergraduate Catalog Page 95-96
Administrative Withdrawal:  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 "WH". A “Contract for Incomplete" will not be issued to a student who has unexcused or excessive absences recorded for a course.  

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:1/14/2011 9:23:37 AM