RE109 World Religions

for SP 2012

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Mission Statement: Park University provides access to a quality higher education experience that prepares a diverse community of learners to think critically, communicate effectively, demonstrate a global perspective and engage in lifelong learning and service to others.

Vision Statement: Park University, a pioneering institution of higher learning since 1875, will provide leadership in quality, innovative education for a diversity of learners who will excel in their professional and personal service to the global community.


RE 109 World Religions


SP 2012 HO


Boster, Stephen W.


Adjunct Professor of Religion


Master of Divinity
Master of Business Adminsitration
Bachelor of Arts in Psychology

Office Hours

By Appointment

Daytime Phone



Class Days


Class Time

11:00 - 11:50 AM

Credit Hours


Esposito, John L., Fasching, Darell J., Lewis, Todd. World Religions Today, 4th Ed. New York/Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012   ISBN: 978-0-19-975951-4

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.
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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 with in the local community. 3:0:3

Educational Philosophy:
The instructor’s educational philosophy incorporates multiple communication mediums to introduce and reinforce concepts and learned skill sets. Learners will be encouraged to engage in online discussions, class verbal interactions, lectures, reading, quizzes, exams, a research paper, and class 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 decreased 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 twice 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, officiates or clergy in the worship service.
After observing the group, students will prepare a two-three 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 as well as presentation creativity (50 points).

3. Investigative Biography (100 Points): Students will choose an important religious figure from a minor faith tradition, sect or cult and submit a 3-4 full 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.   Biography topics must be approved by the instructor in writing - email is preferred.
4. Movie Review (100 Points): Students will select a movie with religious themes and ideas. After reviewing the movie, students will submit a 3-4 full page review of 1.) the main characters; 2.) the plot or story line; 3.) identification of the religious themes and ideas and 4.) a description of specific scenes or sequences that illustrate each theme. Movie choice must be approved by instructor in writing – email is preferred.
5. Online Threaded Discussions (100 Points): During the course, two questions will be posted for discussion on the course website. Students will participate in threaded discussions around themes from the reading, lecture, and discussions. Posts must be at least 200-300 words in length and each student must also post 100-150 word responses to two other student postings. All postings and responses are due before class on the due date. Each posting is worth 30 points, and each response is worth 10 points.
· Question 1: Post (30 Points), Response 1 (10 Points) and Response 2 (10 Points)
· Question 2: Post (30 Points), Response 3 (10 Points) and Response 4 (10 Points)
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 in writing (email is preferred) by February 17th. Submission of paper is due April 23rd. See writing guidelines below.
7.  Quizzes (100 Points): Six 20-point quizzes will be given online during the course at the beginning of the class period on their assigned date. Quizzes will cover comprehension of the reading materials assigned up to the point of quiz. There will be no make-up on quizzes. The lowest quiz score will be dropped.
8. Exams (200 Points): During the course of the semester, students will be given a mid term exam (100 points) and a final exam (100 points). Each exam will consist of multiple choice, matching, listing, fill-in-the-blank, true/false, and short answers. Also, for both exams, students will be expected to synthesize material from readings, lectures, discussions and life experience in an essay format. 


Assignment Points Possible Points Received
Class Participation I 50  
Class Participation II 50  
Group Observation / Presentation 100  
Investigative Biography 100  
Movie Review 100  
Online Threaded Discussion I 50  
Online Threaded Discussion II 50  
Major Paper 200  
Quiz 1 20  
Quiz 2 20  
Quiz 3 20  
Quiz 4 20  
Quiz 5 20  
Quiz 6    
Midterm Exam 100  
Final Exam 100  
Total Points Possible 1000  

Late Submission of Course Materials:
Late work will be accepted, except for Quizzes and Exams. 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 absences. If the absence is "Unexcused" the grade received on any regular assignment turned in after the due date will be reduced by 10% for each day it is late. Assignments that are more than 10 days late will receive a grade of zero.

Classroom Rules of Conduct:
Religion can be a sensitive and controversial subject with strong convictions, beliefs, and expressions. Respect for fellow students and the instructor is required at all times as pursuant to the behavior consistent with Park University guidelines. The classroom and learning mediums are for the purpose of the exploration and expression of ideas.

1. Cell Phone Usage: Students who are expecting an emergency phone call may leave a phone or pager on if you set it to silent or vibrate. Students will notify the instructor in advance of the potential for the phone call. If an emergency call or text is received, the student must take the call or text outside of the classroom. Please NOTE, cell phone usage (including: receiving, answering and making phone calls; leaving the classroom to take a call, text messaging, and direct-connecting) is prohibited from the time class begins until dismissed. Students who text during class will lose 10 class participation points each time they are observed.

2. Computer Usage: Computers are wonderful tools that allow us to organize, store and retrieve information quickly and easily. You are welcome to bring your laptop with you to class for this purpose. However, with the advent of wireless networks and broadband internet connections, computers now offer students many opportunities for distraction. If the distractions become too frequent or noticeable, computer usage for the entire class may be disallowed. Please do not let your web surfing, instant messaging, Facebook and Twitter status updating habits ruin this privilege for the whole class. Students who violate correct computer usage during class will lose 10 class participation points each time they are observed.

Course Topic/Dates/Assignments:

Week beginning Course Topic Assignments
16-Jan Introductory Matters WRT, Chapter 1 (Jan 20)
NOTE: No class on Jan 16th for Martin Luther King’s Day
23-Jan Indigenous Religions WRT, Chapter 2 (Jan 25)
Quiz 1
30-Jan Judaism
6-Feb Judaism (cont) WRT, Chapter 3 (Feb 6)
Quiz 2
13-Feb Christianity WRT, Chapter 4 (Feb 15)
Major Paper Topic Due (Feb 17)
20-Feb Christianity (cont) Movie Review Due (Feb 24)
NOTE: No class on Feb 20th for Presidents Day
27-Feb Islam WRT, Chapter 5 (Feb 24)
Quiz 3
5-Mar Islam (cont) Online Threaded Discussion I Due (Mar 5)
MIDTERM (March 9th)
Class Participation I Grade
12-Mar Break Week
19-Mar Hinduism WRT, Chapter 6 (Mar 23)
Investigative Biography Due (Mar 23)
26-Mar Hindusim/Buddhism WRT, Chapter 7 (Mar 28)
Quiz 4
2-Apr Buddhism
9-Apr East Asian Religions WRT, Chapter 8 (Apr 9)
Quiz 5
Online Threaded Discussion II Due (Apr 13)
16-Apr Globalization WRT, Chapter 9 (Apr 18)
23-Apr Major Paper Due (Apr 23)
Quiz 6
30-Apr Group Presentations Group Presentations (Apr 30)
9-May 10:15 am to 12:15 am FINAL EXAM
Class Participation II Grade

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 2011-2012 Undergraduate Catalog Page 93

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 2011-2012 Undergraduate Catalog Page 93

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 2011-2012 Undergraduate Catalog Page 96

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: .

Additional Information:
Major Paper Writing Guidelines 

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 in writing (email is preferred) by February 17, 2012. Papers are due April 23, 2012. Paper topics are to pertain to the World Religions academia. Topics may include subjects discussed during class lecture or from the readings of the course textbooks.

Sources: Each paper submitted is expected to have a minimum of three (3) research sources other than the course textbooks. Wikipedia articles, dictionary entries, encyclopedia articles do NOT count as a research source.   Internet citations of blogs will not be accepted. If you have any concerns about a particular resource, feel free to email the professor for clarification. Use sources to support and augment your position in the paper. Do NOT give a summary of a resource as your paper. The paper should reflect your ability to synthesize the resources to support your discussion and insights of the topic of choice.

Expectations: 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.


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.


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.)


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.


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.


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Last Updated:1/5/2012 11:16:48 AM