RE109 World Religions

for SP 2013

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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 2013 HOB


Bechtold, William Kenneth


Adjunct Professor, Religion


Class Days


Class Time

10:00 - 10:50 AM



Credit Hours


Oxtoby, Willard G. and Alan F. Segal, eds. A Concise Introduction to World Relgions. 2nd ed. Don Mills, Canada: 

     Oxford University, 2012.

Textbooks can be purchased through the MBS 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 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. 

Educational Philosophy:

  Instructor Learning Outcomes

  1. Students will increase individual awareness of how religious frameworks influence everyday decisions.
  2. Students will identify and comprehend key terms and concepts in order to critically discuss issues in world religion.
  3. Students will be able to identify major beliefs and practices of current major world religions.
  4. Students will increase appreciation for and understanding of diverse practices and belief structures in around the world
Class Assessment:
1. Class Participation (10%): Class participation is an essential element of the classroom learning experience. Students are expected to attend class and actively participate during in-class discussions and activities. This grade will be decreased by absences, excessive tardiness, and lack of preparation. With regard to class participation, the important question is not, "How little can I do to pass?" but rather, "How much can I contribute to the learning environment of the class?"

2. Quizzes (20%): This class will have weekly quizzes that cover the required reading and class lectures.

3. Exams (20%): There will be two major exams during the semester--a Mid-Term and a Final. 

4. Group Observation/Presentation (15%): During the course, the instructor will separate students groups of 3. Each group will observe a sacred meeting or worship service of faith different from their own (to be approved by the instructor). 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 the observation, students will prepare a 3-4 page report and a 10-15 minute presentation of their experience. Students will receive an individual grade for personal contribution and a group grade for the collective effort. A rubric for the paper and presentation will be given to students prior to the due date. Since this is a group assignment, it is essential that members of each group communicate and plan ahead. Failure to plan is not a reason for lack of participation. The report paper must be typed, double-spaced, and utilize Times New Roman, 12 pt. font. Students must utilize footnotes when citing any sources within their paper, and include a title page and bibliography (which do not count toward the page total).

5. Investigative Biography (10%): Students will choose an important figure from a minor faith tradition, sect, or cult and submit a 3-4 full page report. The report will focus on: 1) details of the person's life and work; 2) how that person's ideas affect contemporary culture. Biography topics must be approved by the instructor via email. The paper must be typed, double-spaced, and utilize Times New Roman, 12 pt. font. Students must utilize footnotes when citing any sources within their paper, and include a title page and bibliography (which do not count toward the page total).

6. Class Notebook (25%): Throughout the class, students will be required to maintain a Class Notebook. This notebook will be contained in a 3-ring binder and be made up of various assignments given during the semester. Notebooks will be graded on a regular basis, so it is essential that students maintain their notebooks throughout the semester. Further, students will periodically be called upon to share material from their notebooks in class. Further details will be provided by the professor.

Class Participation: 10%

Quizzes:                  20%
Exams:                    20%
Group Project:        15%
Biography:              10%
Class Notebook:      25%

Late Submission of Course Materials:
     Students are required to turn in all assignments and take all exams on time. No late work is accepted, except in extraordinary circumstances. Assignments not turned in on time--as well as missed exams--will receive a 0 without opportunity to make up the assignment. If a student is absent, it is his/her responsibility to communicate with the professor concerning any missed material. If a student knows he/she will be absent when an assignment or exam is due, he/she must arrange in advance an alternate time to turn in the assignment or take the exam. Such arrangements will be at the discretion of the professor. 

     It is is essential that all students pay attention to all due dates and plan accordingly. Failure to plan ahead does not constitute extraordinary circumstances. 

Classroom Rules of Conduct:
Respect for Divergent Viewpoints: An important aspect of the learning environment is open and engaged discussion of various topics related to the subject matter. However, when studying the topic of religion, it is understood that students will have strong, and often times divergent views on the topic. This is okay. Students are encouraged to express their views, when appropriate, even when doing so brings them in disagreement with one or more of their classmates. Healthy debate enhances the learning experience and can be highly beneficial. However, such disagreement should be done with respect and humility. All students are expected to maintain a professional and respectful attitude at all times. Personal or acrimonious remarks will not be tolerated!

Attendance/Tardiness: Class participation is an instrumental part of the class, thus students are expected to regularly attend. Every unexcused absence over 3 may result in a lowering of the student's final grade by one letter per absence. Students are expected to show up to class on time. Habitual tardiness will result in a deduction of points for class participation. 

Technology: Students may use computers to take notes in class provided that they do not cause a distraction. Students may not play games or browse the internet during class. Cell phones should be turned to silent, and texting during class is not allowed.

Course Topic/Dates/Assignments:

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 95-96

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.

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: .

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Last Updated:1/3/2013 5:03:00 PM