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SO 328 Sociology of Religion
Reitz, Roland


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.

Course

SO 328 Sociology of Religion

Semester

S1T 2013 DL

Faculty

Reitz, Roland

Title

Instructor/Adjunct

Degrees/Certificates

Doctor of Ministry in Church Leadership
Master of Divinity
Bachelor of Arts in Psychology

Office Location

Online

Office Hours

Online

Daytime Phone

(907) 854-3823

E-Mail

roland.reitz@park.edu

dr.roland.reitz@gmail.com

Semester Dates

January -- March 2013

Class Days

TBA

Class Time

TBA

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

Textbooks can be purchased through the Parkville Bookstore

Additional Resources:

  

http://pewforum.org/

“The Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life, launched in 2001, seeks to promote a deeper understanding of issues at the intersection of religion and public affairs.The Pew Forum conducts surveys, demographic analyses and other social science research on important aspects of religion and public life in the U.S. and around the world. It also provides a neutral venue for discussions of timely issues through roundtables and briefings.” (http://pewforum.org/Pew-Forum/About-the-Pew-Forum.aspx, April 24, 2011)

http://www.barna.org/

“Barna Group is a visionary research and resource company located in Ventura, California. The firm is widely considered to be a leading research organization focused on the intersection of faith and culture…. The company provides primary research; printed resources; leadership development; spiritual training; and church facilitation and enhancement. We seek to use our strengths in partnership with organizations and entrepreneurs to be a catalyst in moral, social, and spiritual transformation.” (http://www.barna.org/about, April 24, 2011)

http://www.religioustolerance.org/

The website exists to serve the people of the United States and Canada in four areas:1) Disseminating accurate religious information, 2) Exposing religious fraud, hatred and misinformation, 3) Disseminating information on dozens of "hot” religious topics, 4) Promoting religious tolerance. (excerpted and paraphrased from http://www.religioustolerance.org/purpose.htm April 24, 2011)

http://www.atheists.org/

“American Atheists is dedicated to working for the civil rights of atheists, promoting separation of state and church, and providing information about atheism.” (http://www.atheists.org/about, April 24, 2011)

http://www.sacred-texts.com/index.htm

“The largest freely available archive of online books about religion, mythology, folklore and the esoteric on the Internet. The site is dedicated to religious tolerance and scholarship…” (http://www.sacred-texts.com/index.htm, April 24, 2011)

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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 that includes lecture, reading, application, and dialogue. I see my role in this learning process primarily as a facilitator. My goal is to facilitate your learning. To accomplish this goal I will provide required readings, relevant lectures to highlight core learning objectives, discussion questions to guide interaction, and writing assignments to provide the opportunities to demonstrate application of the core learning outcomes.

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. I expect to learn a great deal from your life experiences, and I expect you will learn a great deal from the life experiences of one another.

Learning in this course will largely be determined by your level of involvement in the class. I will read the discussion threads regularly and respond. My responses will generally be to the class rather than to individual posts.

I have also provided practice exercises. These are not graded, and are intended to be enjoyable, not create a lot of stress, and give you the opportunity to apply the readings and discussion. In this course we will also learn from one another through writing assignments and course projects involving practical experience with faith groups outside one's own experience.

Class Assessment:

Participation

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

Assessment Papers

 
         Demonstrate application of sociological concepts each week for the first six weeks. Each paper is 1-2 pages Times New Roman 12 point in a Word or text document. 60 points x 6 weeks = 360 points

Core Learning Assessment

 Approximately 3000 word (10 page) paper analyzing a religious community other than 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. Reflect on how the faith community interacts with society and what sociological functions the community serves for its members and for the larger community. Consider hierarchy, socio-economic, and demographics of the faith community. Assess the faith community from subjective, dramaturgical, institutional, and structural perspectives. Is the faith group world affirming, world accommodating, or world rejecting?  The paper is due at the end of week 7. The Core Learning Assessment = 200 points.

 Final exam: 50 question multiple choice test = 200 points.

Grading:

Participation/Weekly discussions -- 30 points per week x 8 weeks = 240 points
 
Weekly Assessment Papers -- 60 points x 6 assignments = 360 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.

Course Topic/Dates/Assignments:
 

Week 1
Reading Assignment:

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

Weekly Writing Assignment:

       Lester Kurtz says, “The first task of sociologists… is to gather data and attempt to define their subject matter with clarity.” (pg. 9) This is our task for the week – to define with clarity what religion is. In 1-2 pages provide your definition of religion and defend that definition. See Assignment under Week One for more details. Contact your instructor if you have questions.              

Discussion Threads:

      
See Week One Discussions under Week One, under Course Home to enter the discussion.  Post your original response to both questions prior to midnight on Wednesday. Also, respond to at least two of your fellow student’s postings prior to Sunday at midnight. Initial posts should synthesize personal experience and resources, and should include documented support. At least five substantive posts are required for full points. See the grading rubric for additional information and requirements.

Core Learning Outcomes:      

  • Describe the major social functions and dysfunctions of religion.   
  • Critique specific religious organizations and movements from structural, institutional, subjective, and dramaturgical perspectives. 

By the end of this section you should be able to demonstrate the following:     

  • Understand the challenge of defining religion    
  • Provide a personal definition of religion             
  • Explain the following concepts: diversity, religious marketplace, sacred canopy, and    elective affinity    
  • Apply dramaturgical, structural, institutional, and subjective approaches to studying    faith organizations  

Week 2 *Proctor Form will open this week, please fill out the form*

Reading Assignment:

  • Kurtz, chapter 2 – A Sociological Tour: Turning East
  • Aldridge, chapter 3 – Varieties of Religious Movements
  • Lecture

Weekly Writing Assignment:

       A key component of sociological study is observation. This term you have the opportunity to observe two different religious services, write observation papers about them, and then conduct further study of one of the religious groups for your Core Assessment. This week your first observation is due. Observe a religious service apart from your own and write a one to two page sociological assessment. For more details see Assignment under Week Two, or contact your instructor if you have further questions.

Discussion Threads:

       See Week Two Discussions under Week Two, under Course Home to enter the discussion.
Post your original response to both questions prior to midnight on Wednesday. Also, respond to at least two of your fellow student’s postings prior to Sunday at midnight. Initial posts should synthesize personal experience and resources, and should include documented support. At least five substantive posts are required for full points. See the grading rubric for additional information and requirements.

Core Learning Outcomes:

  • Analyze the role of religions in social conflicts and their contributions to social stability.
  • Explain the group dynamics & social psychological effects of religious forms.

By the end of this week you should be able to:

  • Categorize faith groups according to world-affirming, world-accommodating, and world-rejecting
  • Recognize tenets and concepts from Hinduism and Buddhism
  • Define theodicy and identify theodicies of various faith groups
  • Utilize the church-cult continuum and identify the weaknesses of the term “cult”  

Week 3 *If you have not filled out your proctor request form, please do so now.*

Reading Assignment:

  • Kurtz, chapter 3 – The Tour: Judaism, Christianity, Islam
  • Aldridge, chapter 6 – Fundamentalism
  • Lecture

Weekly Writing Assignment:

       This term we are learning how religious institutions interact with other social institutions, and how religious organizations contribute to social calm and/or social chaos. This week watch, or read, the news, and consider the contributions religion or religious beliefs are making to that news event. Are religious beliefs contributing to social calm, or social conflict in this news event? Is a religious organization directly or indirectly involved in the news event? News events that at first may not indicate religious involvement may still contain religious concepts/overtones/values etc. Write a one to two page reflection and discussion of how religion is involved in the news event. See Weekly Assignment under Week Three for more information or contact your instructor with questions.

Discussion Threads:

        See Week Three Discussions under Week Three, under Course Home to enter the discussion. Post your original response to both questions prior to midnight on Wednesday. Also, respond to at least two of your fellow student’s postings prior to Sunday at midnight. Initial posts should synthesize personal experience and resources, and should include documented support. At least five substantive posts are required for full points. See the grading rubric for additional information and requirements.

Core Learning Outcomes:

  • Evaluate the effects of religious groups on social policies and the larger society.
  • Predict current trends in religion into the near future and explain their possible consequences.

By the end of this week you should:   

  • Know basic teachings of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam  
  • Be able to list the five pillars of Islam  
  • Discuss the rise of fundamentalism and secularism

Week 4

Reading Assignment:

  • Kurtz, chapter 4 – The Religious Ethos
  • Aldridge, chapter 7 – Civil Religion and Political Ritual
  • Lecture

Weekly Writing Assignment:

       This week is your second of two observations of a religious service other than your own. Either this observation or your previous observation may become the basis for the religious organization you choose to study and write about in your Core Assessment. For more details see Assignment under Week Four, or contact your instructor if you have further questions.

Discussion Threads:

       See Week Four Discussions under Week Four, under Course Home to enter the discussion. Post your original response to each question prior to midnight on Wednesday. Also, respond to at least two of your fellow student’s postings prior to Sunday at midnight. Initial posts should synthesize personal experience and resources, and should include documented support. At least five substantive posts are required for full points. See the grading rubric for additional information and requirements.

Core Learning Outcomes:

  • Analyze the role of religions in social conflicts and their contributions to social stability.
  • Explain the group dynamics & social psychological effects of religious forms.

By the end of this week you should:   

  • Be able to discuss the ethos of various faith groups   
  • Explain the concept of civil religion and provide examples   
  • Define Jihad as described by the authors.  


Week 5

Reading Assignment:

  • Kurtz, chapter 5 – Modernism and Multiculturalism
  • Aldridge, chapter 4 & 5 – Secularization
  • Lecture

Weekly Writing Assignment:

        The last few weeks you have been asked to comment on faith systems apart from your own. It is often more difficult to objectively analyze one’s own faith system. This week, that is the challenge -- write a one to two page analysis of how your religious faith system, or background/world view/personal belief system, etc., is responding to the challenges of modernism, multiculturalism, and secularization. Looking to the near future 5-10 years, consider possible interactions/changes between your religious faith system/background/world view, etc., and the larger society. Support your opinions with examples, official standings from your faith group, supporting documentation, etc.

Discussion Threads:

        See Week Five Discussions under Week Five, under Course Home to enter the discussion. Post your original response to each question prior to midnight on Wednesday. Also, respond to at least two of your fellow student’s postings prior to Sunday at midnight. Initial posts should synthesize personal experience and resources, and should include documented support. At least five substantive posts are required for full points. See the grading rubric for additional information and requirements.

Core Learning Outcomes:

  • Evaluate the effects of religious groups on social policies and the larger society.
  • Predict current trends in religion into the near future and explain their possible consequences.
  • Analyze the role of religions in social conflicts & their contributions to social stability.

By the end of this week you should:

  • Be able to explain syncretism and provide examples  
  • Be able to explain modernism and illustrate the concept  
  • Describe how specialization and structural differentiation has impacted religion  

Week 6 *Last week to fill out your proctor form for the final.*

Reading Assignment:

  • Kurtz, chapter 6 – Religious Movements for a New Century
  • Aldridge, chapter 9 – Religious Identity and Meaning in a Consumer Society
  • Lecture

Weekly Writing Assignment:

       This week reflect on how your religious faith system, beliefs, world view has historically contributed to social calm or social chaos.  Write a one-two page paper analyzing and critiquing your own faith/belief system. 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?

Discussion Threads:

        See Week Six Discussions under Week Six, under Course Home to enter the discussion. Post your original response to each question prior to midnight on Wednesday. Also, respond to at least two of your fellow student’s postings prior to Sunday at midnight. Initial posts should synthesize personal experience and resources, and should include documented support. At least five substantive posts are required for full points. See the grading rubric for additional information and requirements.

Core Learning Outcomes:

  • Describe the major social functions & dysfunctions of religion.
  • Evaluate the effects of religious groups on social policies and the larger society.
  • Analyze the role of religions in social conflicts & their contributions to social stability.
  • Explain the group dynamics & social psychological effects of religious forms.

By the end of this week you should be able to:  

  • Explain the role of feminist and liberation theology in contemporary religions  
  • Identify New Religious Movements and emerging trends within traditional religions  
  • Explain how trends like individualism, specialization, consumerism, etc. are impacting religious identity  
  • Identify and explain Auguste Comte's three stages of development— 
    1)  theological,  2) metaphysical,  3)  positive  

Week 7

Reading Assignment:

  • Kurtz, chapter 7 – Religion and Social Conflict
  • Lecture

Core Learning Assessment:

       Write a paper of approximately 3000 words (10 pages) providing in-depth analysis and demonstrating a thorough sociological understanding of 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 religious leaders 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. Remember, we are not assessing the truth of their theological claims, or the relative value of their religious beliefs vis-à-vis another’s belief system. Instead we are interested in a dramaturgical, structural, institutional, and subjective understanding of the roles the faith system provides in society and how the faith system may contribute to social calm or chaos.  See Week Seven Assignment for more details. See Grading Rubric for grading standards. Please contact your instructor with questions.

Discussion Threads: 

       See Week Seven Discussions under Week Seven, under Course Home to enter the discussion. Post your original response to each question prior to midnight on Wednesday. Also, respond to at least two of your fellow student’s postings prior to Sunday at midnight. Initial posts should synthesize personal experience and resources, and should include documented support. At least five substantive posts are required for full points. See the grading rubric for additional information and requirements.

Core Learning Outcomes:

  • Describe the major social functions & dysfunctions of religion.
  • Evaluate the effects of religious groups on social policies and the larger society.
  • Predict current trends in religion into the near future and explain their possible consequences.
  • Analyze the role of religions in social conflicts & their contributions to social stability.
  • Explain the group dynamics & social psychological effects of religious forms.

By the end of this week you should be able to:  

  • Differentiate between internal and external religious conflict and provide both micro and macro level examples  
  • Explain religious arguments against violence  

Week 8

Reading Assignment:

  • Aldridge, chapter 8 – Brainwashing, Consumer Protection and the State
  • Lecture

No Writing Assignment this Week. Instead, you have the final exam this week. The final exam is worth 200 points (20% of your grade). The exam is multiple choice. It is NOT open book or open note. I believe this is to your advantage. First, unless you know the information already you will not have time to search two textbooks for the answers. Second, the textbooks will help you understand the concepts; however, you still have to apply those concepts to know the right answer on the test.

Discussion Threads:

       See Week Eight Discussions under Week Eight, under Course Home to enter the discussion. Post your original responses prior to midnight on Wednesday. Also, respond to at least two of your fellow student’s postings prior to Sunday at midnight. Initial posts should synthesize personal experience and resources, and should include documented support. At least five substantive posts are required for full points. See the grading rubric for additional information and requirements.

Core Learning Outcomes:

  • Describe the major social functions & dysfunctions of religion.
  • Evaluate the effects of religious groups on social policies and the larger society.
  • Predict current trends in religion into the near future and explain their possible consequences.
  • Critique specific religious organizations and movements according to the “church-cult continuum.”
  • Analyze the role of religions in social conflicts & their contributions to social stability.
  • Explain the group dynamics & social psychological effects of religious forms.

By the end of this week you should be able to:   

  • Advocate for the role the state should play in protecting consumers  
  • Advocate for a level of involvement the government should have in religion  
  • Advocate for a level of involvement religion should have in the larger community  
  • Comprehend and explain the roles religion has in society and what religion provides for its adherents

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 (www.park.edu/current or http://www.park.edu/faculty/).from Park University 2011-2012 Undergraduate Catalog Page 95-96

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. from Park University 2011-2012 Undergraduate Catalog Page 95

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: Students must participate in an academically related activity on a weekly basis in order to be marked present in an online class. Examples of academically-related activities include but are not limited to: contributing to an online discussion, completing a quiz or exam, completing an assignment, initiating contact with a faculty member to ask a course related question, or using any of the learning management system tools.

Park University 2011-2012 Undergraduate Catalog Page 98

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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Last Updated:12/10/2012 8:38:37 PM