UA Campus Directory:
Office hours is a time when the professor or GTA are available to discuss questions or issues related to the course with individual students. This semester, the professor will hold office hours in person and remotely via Zoom and is also available to meet by appointment (arranged most easily via email). Students can choose how they want to meet, masked inperson or via Zoom. GTA office hours will be via Zoom. Go to the course page on Blackboard to access the Zoom link for regular office hours for the professor and each GTA.
Prof. Steven Ramey (he/him/his)
Office hours - Thursdays 9-10 am in PRH 315A and by appointment (in person or Zoom)
GTA - Mr. Kyle Ashley
Office hours - Mondays 12-1 in PRH 210 and by appointment
UA Course Catalog Prerequisites:
No prereqs found
Course Description and Credit Hours
This comparative study of religions highlights complexity in world religions. Topics, such as texts, practices, and deities, organize the study of different pairs of religions.
This Core course is an interdisciplinary introduction to the comparative study of practices and concepts identified as the world’s religions, highlighting different ways individuals and groups across cultures organize their lives and values; students will develop skills in critical analysis and apply them to different descriptions of various religions. The main religions discussed will be Hinduism, Chinese Religions, Judaism, Sikhism, Christianity, Islam, and African Religions.
This course will meet in person as scheduled. Students also will need to have access to a computer or other device and the internet to complete quizzes/take-home tests, submit assignments, review course video or notes, and access Zoom office hours. Please note that mobile devices do not always function well for quizzes and tests. HU IBA ASST
Required Texts from UA Supply Store:
- NONE / NO TEXT REQUIRED (Required)
Required readings will be available on Blackboard as PDFs.
Introduce students to information about various practices and beliefs associated with religions.
Discuss the construction of the category "world religions" and the implications of those constructions.
Develop strategies to analyze critically representations of religions.
Apply these critical analysis strategies to contemporary media representations.
Student Learning Outcomes
Scholars in Rel 102 will be able to
Analyze critically the history of the category “world religions” and the values implicit within it.
Define basic terms associated with the histories and contemporary forms of a broad range of ideas and practices commonly labeled religions.
Evaluate the assumptions behind contrasting aspects of representations of the same religions
Develop a sophisticated method for critical analysis of media accounts.
Critique the specific categories commonly associated with religions and the agendas and assumptions that those categories reveal.
Other Course Materials
This course will make signifiant use of Blackboard Learn (https://ualearn.blackboard.com) for readings, quizzes, take-home tests, and assignment submission, and class meetings will be recorded on Panopto (accessible through Blackboard) for you to review afterwards. Therefore, you will need internet access to complete the course, as well as access to a computer or other device, and the tools that we will use in this course function best with updated browsers. For general tutorials for Blackboard, you can go to https://help.blackboard.com/Learn/Student. If you have problems using Blackboard or any of the other tools within Blackboard, please contact the professor or GTA as early as possible.
No additional course materials are necessary, beyond the readings posted as PDFs on Blackboard and the required computing and internet capabilities to work with Blackboard and, if desired, Panopto recordings.
Outline of Topics
This course meets twice each week. All class sessions will be recorded to assist students who want to review material that they might have missed during a class session. You can access recorded sessions in the relevant folder on the coursepage on Blackboard.
The following schedule of sessions is tentative and subject to change. Any changes will be announced in class and/or via email as early as possible, allowing sufficient time for students to adjust.
Class Assessments and Assignments
Approaches to the Study of Religions
What are the World Religions?
Week 2 quiz (on Blackboard, due by classtime)
HINDUISM AND CHINESE RELIGIONS
Week 3 quiz (on Blackboard, due by classtime)
Write up on Hinduism due by 5:00 pm Wednesday
Chinese Religions 1
Chinese Religions 1
Week 4 quiz (on Blackboard, due by classtime)
Chinese Religions 2
Chinese Religions 2
Chinese Religions 3
Week 5 quiz (on Blackboard, due by classtime)
Write up on Chiense Religion due by 5:00 pm Friday
Test 1 (Online)
Available on Blackboard 8:00 am - 11:59 pm
JUDAISM AND SIKHISM
Week 7 quiz (on Blackboard, due by classtime)
Write up on Judaism due by 5:00 pm Wednesday
Week 8 quiz (on Blackboard, due by classtime)
Week 9 quiz (on Blackboard, due by classtime)
Write up on Sikhism due by 5:00 pm Friday
Test 2 (Online)
Available on Blackboard 8:00 am - 11:59 pm
CHRISTIANITY, ISLAM, AND AFRICAN RELIGIONS
Week 11 quiz (on Blackboard, due by classtime)
Write up on Christianity due by 5:00 pm Wednesday
Week 12 quiz (on Blackboard, due by classtime)
First Critical Analysis Project due 11:59 pm Nov 8
Week 13 quiz (on Blackboard, due by classtime)
Write up on Islam due by 5:00 pm Friday
African Religions 1
African Religions 1
African Religions 2
African Religions 2
Week 14 quiz (on Blackboard, due by classtime)
African Religions 3
Write up on African Religions due by Final Exam time
Final Exam week
Final Critical Analysis Project due 12:30 pm on Dec 9
Exams and Assignments
For most weeks (as noted in the schedule above), students must complete an online quiz prior to the start of class on Thursday. That timed quiz will cover the readings assigned for that week (including what is assigned for Thursday), plus any class material since the previous quiz. All of these quizzes are open book, open note and available on Blackboard. They will be relatively short, typically 5 multiple choice / true false questions (worth 4 points each).
For each of the seven religions that we discuss in the course, students need to write a one-page description of the religion that compares 2 of the representations discussed in class or the readings. In this description, identify the 2 representations and present a brief explanation of what each representation emphasizes and an example of either what each excludes or the ways that representation functions to empower or marginalize particular groups. Each Write-up will be graded for content only. Style and grammar will not be graded, except for cases where the writing is unclear. Write-ups (submitted through Blackboard) are due at 5:00 pm on the day (Friday or Wednesday) after the final class on that religion (as marked in the schedule above). Since the African Religions class sessions end during Dead Week, the African Religions write-up will be due at the time that the final project is due.
The course includes two tests, taken and submitted via Blackboard. The first addresses Hinduism and Chinese Religions, and the second covers Judaism and Sikhism. The material on the test will include multiple choice questions (like the quizzes) and 1 short (single paragraph) essay. To prepare for the tests, each student should be familiar with the lectures, quizzes, and readings for each section, including but not limited to important terms in the readings. The essay question will be provided before each test so that students can prepare an informed response. Tests will have a time limit and will allow students to use notes and readings. However, students must complete each test individually. Working together to study for a test is encouraged; working together to complete a test is not permitted. The text will be available from 8 am until 11:59 pm on the scheduled day. It will be a timed test and should be completed by 11:59 pm. Class will not meet in person on the day of each test.
CRITICAL ANALYSIS PROJECT
The Critical Analysis Project requires each student to analyze a news article of their choice that represents / addresses one or more religions or religion generally. The various points of analysis will be discussed throughout the semester and practiced collaboratively in class discussions. Details about options for format (essay, video, audio recording) and submission process will be provided during the semester. The project is due at 11:59 pm on November 8.
FINAL CRITICAL ANALYSIS PROJECT
Instead of a final exam, the final project for the course will be a second Critical Analysis Project, allowing each student the opportunity to improve their performance on this second opportunity by incorporating the feedback from the first. The Final Critical Analysis Project is worth 200 points, more than the previous project. The source analyzed must be a different source than used in the first project. The Final Critical Analysis Project is due at 12:30 pm on Dec 9.
Approx. 1050 points possible
Online Quizzes (11 weekly quizzes X 20 points each)
Write-ups (7 religions x 40)
2 tests (100 points each)
Critical Analysis Project
Final Critical Analysis Project
Final grades will be based on the following ranges: 970-1000+ = A+; 920-969 = A; 900-919 = A-; 870-899 = B+; 820-869 = B; 800-819 = B-; 770-799 = C+; 720-769 = C; 700-719= C-; 600-699 = D; 0-599 = F.
Note that the class has more than 1000 points possible, but the grade scale is based on 1000 points, making 2 quizzes or 1 write-up entirely extra credit points. DO NOT RELY ON BLACKBOARD PERCENTAGES TO ASSESS YOUR GRADE IN THE COURSE. Assignments that you never submit do not automatically get included in that calculation, and the extra points possible also throw off that calculation. Consult with the professor or GTA if you are concerned about your current grade in the course. Midterm grades will also be posted on Blackboard and through myBama at that time of the semester.
Extra credit opportunities for participation in virtual or inperson events will be announced in class during the semester. Attending and submitting a paragraph write-up about the event will provide 5 extra points added into the total point earned. Maximum 15 points extra credit allowed for any student
Policy on Missed Exams and Coursework
We will be as flexible as possible to assist each student to complete the semester in a manner that is as fair as possible to the student and to the others in the course. That fairness may require a late penalty or a different format (particularly for Tests). Quizzes, which are available online, cannot be made up/submitted late in most circumstances, but the extra points in the course mean that you can miss two quizzes completely and still potentially receive an A+ in the course (depending on other scores, of course). Please speak with the GTA or the professor as soon as possible to make arrangements for late assignments. Anyone who is unable to complete missed coursework by the deadline for the final project (December 9) should make arrangements with the professor for an Incomplete, which must include realistic plans for how they will complete the required work.
Attendance is not recorded, but keeping up with class sessions and readings, along with specific assignments, contributes to student learning and success on assessments (and thus the final grade). Class sessions will be recorded and posted (barring technical complications) for students to review elements of class that they missed or found confusing. Please see the statement on missed / late coursework.
Notification of Changes
The instructor will make every effort to follow the guidelines of this syllabus as listed; however, the instructor reserves the right to amend this document as the need arises. In such instances, the instructor will notify students in class and/or via email and will endeavor to provide reasonable time for students to adjust to any changes.
Statement on Academic Misconduct
Students are expected to be familiar with and adhere to the official Academic Misconduct Policy provided in the Online Catalog.
Statement On Disability Accommodations
Contact the Office of Disability Services (ODS) as detailed in the Online Catalog.
Severe Weather Protocol
Please see the latest Severe Weather Guidelines in the Online Catalog.
Pregnant Student Accommodations
Title IX protects against discrimination related to pregnancy or parental status. If you are pregnant and will need accommodations for this class, please review the University’s FAQs on the UAct website.
Under the Guidelines for Religious Holiday Observances, students should notify the instructor in writing or via email during the first two weeks of the semester of their intention to be absent from class for religious observance. The instructor will work to provide reasonable opportunity to complete academic responsibilities as long as that does not interfere with the academic integrity of the course. See full guidelines at Religious Holiday Observances Guidelines.
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