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Introduction to Religions

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Course Description
    Instructor: Dr. Annie J. Daniel / Email: annied@lsu.edu
    Time: 5 weeks, Sunday through Saturday
    Total study hours: 50 hours
    Credits: 4
    This subject aims at providing students with a fundamental understanding of diverse types of religions and religious practices in today’s world. At the same time, the course will examine the complex nature of religious phenomena, including religious knowledge and competing truth claims.
Course Objectives
    Religion is one of the most widespread and deeply entrenched aspects of human experience. It is also a phenomenon that has proven remarkably resistant to systematic explanation. This course is an introduction to an array of influential approaches to explaining religion and its core aspects – e.g. ritual, religious institutions and belief in the supernatural. Through this course, students will gain a deeper understanding for the diversity and complexity of religion/s as well as a basic understanding of the study of religion. By the end of the course students will possess:
    1. Familiarity with the features that are common in many world religions;
    2. A greater understanding of the core aspects of religion;
    3. An in-depth understanding of some highly influential approaches to explaining religion;
    4. An understanding of the major religions and religious practice in today’s world.
Required Text
    Hopfe, L. M. & Woodward, M. R. (2009). Religions of the World (11th ed.). Upper Saddle, NJ: Prentice Hall.
Grading Policy
  • This course is worth 100 points and the passing score is 60%.
Evaluation.
  • Unit Assignments (6) --> 25% (250 Pts.)
  • Unit Quizzes (6) --> 30% (300 Pts.)
  • Midterm and Final Exam --> 45% (450 Pts.)
  • Total = 100% / 1000 Pts.
Course Schedule
  • Unit 1: Basics Religions.
  • In this unit, students review religion of contemporary people whose religious ideas are not in written form and the religions of pre-historic peoples. Students will examine a variety of beliefs and practices, including animism, totemism and polytheism.
  • Unit 2: Religions Originating in Africa and the Americas.
  • The students will examine Native American and African Religions as examples of basic religions without a written form. The many different tribes, nations, and peoples in Africa and the Americas each practiced their own unique religious traditions, rituals, and customs. In this unit, we will endeavored to consider some of the common themes that tie together these diverse religions across large geographic areas.
  • Unit 3: Religions Originating in India.
  • Students will analyze four of the great world religions that originated in India: Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, and Skihism, as well as the basic beliefs of these religions that there are many gods (Sikhism is the exception, taking its belief in one god from Islam) and that one person may lead many lives through a system of reincarnation. A common objective of these religions is release from the cycle of life, death, and rebirth.
  • Unit 4: Religions Originating in China and Japan.
  • Students will analytically assess religions that originated in China and Japan includes Daoism, Confucianism, and Shinto. Daoism and Confucianism will expand their notion of what constitutes religion because both of these traditions, and especially Confucianism, focus on philosophical concepts, nature, and social relationships rather than on worship of a supernatural deity, which is not to say that they deny the existence of gods.
  • Unit 5: Religions Originating in the Middle East – Judaism and Christianity.
  • Students will compare and contrast the religions originating in the Middle East include Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and Baha’i. All believe in one Supreme Creator God; they believe each person lives only one earthly life; they regard the material universe positively, hold a linear view of time, and believe in divine judgment of the world. Christianity and Islam have been two of the great missionary religions of the world. Today, their adherents are found all over the globe and number in the billions.
  • Unit 6: Religions Originating in the Middle East – Islam and Baha’i.
  • Students will complete the religions originating in the Middle East with the final two religions, Islam and Baha’i. Baha’I began as a Sect of Shi’ite Islam and think of themselves as a Distinct, Universal Religion.
  • Unit 7: Review of Religions of the World.