Lake-Sumter State College Course Syllabus

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Lake-Sumter State College

South Lake Campus, Room 119, Cooper Memorial Library

Course Syllabus for World Religions

Spring 2015, Tuesdays and Thursdays, 8:00-9:20 a.m.

COURSE / CRN: 10220 REL 2300

Lake-Sumter State College Course Syllabus

Course / Prefix Number

REL 2300

Course Title:

World Religions

CRN: 10220




Fall 2015

Course Catalog Description:

This course is a survey of the origins, beliefs, and contemporary practices of the world’s religions: Hinduism, Islam, Jainism, Taoism, Shinto, Sikhism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, and Confucianism. Attention is given to the interactions between specific religions and the cultures in which they are practiced.


Dr. William. C. Weckerly.

Contact Information:


Office Location:

Being an adjunct, I have no office

Office Hours:

By appointment

All students are required to use Lakehawk for official college e-mail communications.

See the college webpage for instructions on activating LakerMail.





Textbook and Other Course Materials:

Living Religions, Ninth Edition, Mary Pat Fisher

Anthology of Living Religions,3rd Edition, Fisher and Bailey (optional)

Technology and Online Computer Access Requirements:


Course Objectives:

(what the course will do)

Students will become familiar with the history, beliefs, sacred texts, and rituals of the world’s major religions, and understand how these religions affect and are affected by politics, social and family structures, and the environment in their respective locales.


Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs) Assessed in this Course:

(what the students take with them beyond this course)

First and foremost, the student learning outcomes will deal with their developing a cursory knowledge of all major world religions still practiced today. In the process, students will also develop an appreciation and respect for other religions irrespective of their own faith practices and beliefs. In order to do this, students should come into this class with an open mind.

Academic Integrity:

The successful functioning of the academic community demands honesty, which is the basis of respect for both ideas and persons. In the academic community, there is an ongoing assumption of academic integrity at all levels. There is the expectation that work will be independently thoughtful and responsible as to its sources of information and inspiration. Honesty is an appropriate consideration in other ways as well, including but not limited to the responsible use of library resources, responsible conduct in examinations, and the responsible use of the Internet. (See college catalog for complete statement.)

Important Information for Students with Disabilities:

Any student with a documented disability who requires assistance or academic accommodations should contact the Office for Students with Disabilities immediately to discuss eligibility. The Office for Students with Disabilities (OSD) is located on the Leesburg Campus, but arrangements can be made to meet with a student on any campus. An appointment can be made by calling 352-365-3589 and specific information about the OSD and potential services can be found at, then go to “Quick Links” and click on Disability Services.

Privacy Policy (FERPA):

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) (20 U.S.C. § 1232g; 34 CFR Part99) is a Federal law that protects the privacy of a student’s education records. In order for your information to be released, a form must be signed and in your records located in the Admissions/Registrar’s Office.

Attendance / Withdrawal Policies:

. Consistent attendance is absolutely essential for this course. This, of course, will make available to students the opportunity of class participation, which will be one-fifth of the final grade. While some absences are inevitable, perfect attendance for this course will entail 20 extra points. Withdrawal will follow the LSSC’s policies. To encourage good attendance, every unexcused absence will result in a five-point deduction.

Withdrawal Deadline:

November 21, 2015

Methods of Evaluation:


Each student should be in attendance for each entire class session, with attendance taken at every class. Good attendance makes for significant class discussion and learning. A portion of the final grade will be based on classroom participation. Those with perfect attendance will receive bonus of 20 points. If students are absent because of illness or family emergency, they have the responsibility to contact the instructor or other students for pertinent information. Any quiz or test that is missed must be made up within a week after the test is given. Papers/exams that are more than one (1) week late will receive a reduced grade, except in the cases of illness or family emergency.


Readings from the required texts must be done before coming to class.

Initially, each student will write and submit a credo of one-two pages, briefly identifying personal beliefs and the importance of one’s own faith system, worth 50 points. Each student will keep a journal of personal reflections/experiences of religious happenings or personal thoughts, with a minimum of two (2) entries per week. This journal will be checked twice during the semester—worth 100 points for the semester. Class participation will be a maximum of 100 points. Also, each student will have occasional essays for extra credit. These essays will concern subject matter at the time.
Two (2) papers—four to six pages each, typed—will be required. The first paper, worth 50 points, will be a report/reflection of a visit to an activity of a faith community of the student’s choice and representing a different faith tradition from his/her own. The final paper will be a reflection of the major project(s) done during the semester—worth a minimum of 200 points. Due by the end of the term is a critique of the Mid East Israeli-Palestinian conflict in at least three pages, worth 50 points.
Testing devices will include the following: five quizzes on terminology and concepts, 20 points each; a take-home mid-term exam; and an optional final, take-home exam—worth 50 points each. Unannounced quizzes may occur from time to time that cannot be made up.
An important note about all written assignments---since students will always and forever be communicators, good writing skills must be evident in every paper submitted. Therefore, using the MLA format, all written assignments must be done on white paper, typed—double-spaced, with all margins approximately one inch. Sentences must be coherent and complete, with proper paragraphing. All misspelled words and incorrect punctuation will be noted. (Make sure that you use your spell-check.) Points may be deducted for poor grammar, spelling, and other composition errors. In some cases, students may be asked to rewrite the paper. ALL PAPERS MUST BE SUBMITTED in class with a “hard copy. NO PAPERS WILL BE ACCEPTED VIA E-MAIL. When preparing written assignments, expect the unexpected. You should have papers done at least three days in advance because you never know when your computer will “crash” or when you printer runs out of ink. DO NOT PROCRASTINATE!!!!

. Plagiarism: This practice is dishonest and teaches nothing. Therefore, students must do their own work! Citation should be made of any and all sources. Doing work that is a duplication of someone else’s work without citation will not be accepted and will receive a “0” for that assignment. Even if a citation indicates the source, just changing a few words in an already-published word constitutes plagiarism! Flagrant violations may even result in failure for the course. If any student uses an obscure or difficult word or phrase, he/she must know the meaning of such words; otherwise this is considered plagiarism.

Grading Scale:

Calculated on a total 600 points for the course, the following grading will ensue—

630-700 A

560-629 B

490-559 C

420-489 D
419 and lower F

Course Calendar:

First week, August 25th, 27th—Introduction to course material with the syllabus. Standards of class participation. Exploring the why, how, wherefore of religion (Introduction and chapter 1 of Fisher and chapter 1 of Fisher/Bailey.) Open discussion of the nature of religion and the human response. INTRODUCTION TO THE MAJOR PROJECT FOR THE CLASS: OPERATION GOLDEN RULE.
Second week, September 1st, 3rd-- Begin basic or indigenous religions. Assignment—complete chapter 1 and read chapter 2 of both texts. Quiz on terms used in discussing religion(s) and a reflective essay. Discussion of Chapter 2 of Fisher and Fisher/Bailey—Indigenous Religions. Credo is due. Assignment--read chapter 3 on Hinduism.
Third week, September 8th, 10th--Chapter 3—Introduction to religions of South and Southeast Asia. Hinduism. Concepts. Chronology. Impact upon or influence of culture, i.e. castes. Current state of affairs vis-à-vis religious and historical setting. Assignment—read chapter 5 on Buddhism.
Fourth week, September 15th, 17th--Buddhism. Basic teachings. Chronology. Branches of Buddhism. Impact upon and influence of culture. Guest speaker on Buddhism Assignment—read chapters 4 and 11 on Jainism and Sikhism. Midterm exams distributed. Quiz on Indigenous Religions. (Note: you may attend the Invitational at the Islamic Society in Orlando on September 26th.

Fifth week, September 22nd, 24th-Jainism. Fundamental teachings. Similarity with and differences from other religions of the area. Sikhism and role in religion/politics of India. First paper and first exam discussed—due no later than Friday, March 6, 2015 by 4 p.m. Assignment—read chapter 6, Daoism (Taoism) and Confucianism.

Sixth week, September 29, October 1st—Quiz on religions originating in India. Chinese indigenous religions vis-à-vis Buddhism. Current state of affairs in China. Political impact on religious practices in China. Assignment—read chapter 7,
Seventh week, October 6th, 8th--Shintoism—Japanese indigenous religion and the impact of Buddhism. Political and religious history of Japan. Current state of affairs. Assignment—Begin reading on Monotheism and the Middle East (Zoroastrianism and Judaism). MIDTERM PAPERS ARE DUE OCTOBER 16, 2015 BY 4:30 P.M.
Eighth week, October 13th, 15th --Quiz on religions China and Japan. Begin Zoroastrianism and its impact on the development of monotheism in the Middle East. Religions of the Middle East, Monotheism. Rise of monotheistic religions. How these religions differ from others. Zoroastrianism: Good versus Evil. Influence on other religions. ALL midterm papers are due Friday, October 16, 2015, by 4:30 p.m. Any papers received after that will receive half credit. However, papers submitted earlier will receive extra credit.
Ninth week, October 20th, 22nd--Begin Judaism. Assignment—continue Judaism. Judaism Sacred text (Old Testament). Teachings. Importance of history and tradition. Branches of Judaism. Judaism and the modern state of Israel. Continued discussion of monotheistic religions.
Tenth week, October 27th, 29th-—Complete Judaism and begin Christianity. Read chapter 9, Christianity. Topics for the final paper as listed in your syllabus will be discussed—due no later than 4:30 p.m. on Friday, December 4, 2014, 2015. Any papers received after that deadline will receive HALF CREDIT.
Eleventh week, November 3rd, 5th-- Complete Judaism and transition into Christianity. Jesus as a Jew; Saul of Tarsus (Paul) as the first Christian theologian. Apostolic tradition and the Early Church. Fundamental beliefs. Movements within Christianity. Rise of denominations. Influence of or to modern culture? Issues facing modern Christianity. Assignment—read chapter 10 on Islam.
Twelfth week, November 10th, 12th-- Islam, its origin and history. Impact on the current state of affairs in the Middle East and elsewhere. Quiz on Monotheistic Religions, Forum on Judaism, Christianity, and Islam with a rabbi, a pastor and a Muslim. Conflict arising between and among monotheistic religions. Impact on and of culture. Spread of Islam. ALL FINAL PAPERS ARE DUE FRIDAY, APRIL 10TH, BY 4 P.M. PAPERS RECEIVED AFTER THAT WILL BE WORTH HALF CREDIT.
Thirteenth week, November 17th, 19th--Complete Middle Eastern religions. Final papers are due tomorrow by 4 p.m.

Fourteenth week, November 24th, New religions, including Mormonism with guest speakers. NO CLASS NOVEMBER 26TH FOR THANKSGIVING BREAK.

Fifteenth week, December 1st, 3rd,--Complete all aspects of OPERATION GOLDEN RULE.

FINALS WEEK—this class will meet Tuesday, December 8, 2015, from 8-9:55 a.m. in this room. Attendance is required.


Classroom Rules and Policies:


  1. All papers must be typed and submitted in class with a “hard copy”—no exceptions. (No papers accepted electronically)

  2. Use only recognized, authoritative sources such as books, news magazines, official websites—however, absolutely NO Wikipedia. Always use appropriate citations in your manuscript. All research papers must include at least three authoritative sources.

  3. The first paper will be an in-depth reflection of the student’s visit to a faith community other than their own tradition. In five to seven pages, describe the gathering place, its symbols or lack of symbols, focal points. Go into detail about their worship/ceremonies/rituals. More details will follow in class.

  4. The midterm and final exams will be take-home exams.

  5. The final paper, six to eight pages, will be an in-depth research paper on religious practices and beliefs. Also due will be a three-paged paper concerning the Middle East, Israeli-Palestine situation.

  6. Extra credit possibilities will be available.

  7. ABSOLUTELY NO CELL PHONES (no texting whatsoever) may be used in the classroom at any time. Laptops should be limited to those students with special needs.

  8. Proper attire: LSSC has no dress code, but PLEASE use common sense in coming to class in modest, proper attire.

  9. Be courteous of others and their opinions. Only one person to be talking at a time.

  10. Every unexcused absence will result in a five-point deduction.

Violence Statement:

Lake-Sumter State College has a policy of zero tolerance for violence as stated in College Board Rule 2.17. Appropriate disciplinary action will be taken in accordance with Board Rule 2.17.

Syllabus Disclaimer:

Information contained in this syllabus is, to the best knowledge of this instructor, considered correct and complete when distributed to the student. The instructor reserves the right, acting within policies and procedures of Lake-Sumter State College, to make necessary changes in course content or instructional techniques without prior notice or obligation to the student.

World Religions

Fall 2015

Faith Community Experience

Due on or before 4:30 p.m. on Friday, October 16, 2015

Attend a service of prayer or worship in a gathering of a faith community other than your own tradition. If possible, plan to have a time to speak to the pastor/rabbi/worship leader about the various elements of the service. If possible, converse with some of the congregants about the service.

Write a four- to six-paged paper about the service. Give some history of the faith community and the tradition it represents. Analyze the liturgy and the rationale (if known) for the order of worship. Include in your paper a copy of the bulletin, if available. Also, elaborate on symbols/icons/statuary that are a part of the decor or of the liturgy.

Be prepared to give a five-minute synopsis of your experience to the class, including your reaction to what you experienced and learned.

Suggestions: Jewish Synagogue—

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormon)

Islamic Mosque

Roman Catholic Churches

Various Protestant Churches

Hindu Temple

Buddhist Temple

Jain Temple

Make sure that you identify yourself as a student at Lake-Sumter Community College in the World Religion course. Look in the Yellow Pages for information about various faith communities. You can also go on-line to find where you want to visit. In order to make your visit more informative, call ahead to get the information you need. Best of all, try to speak to someone who is very conversant with that particular faith.

Since you are representing LSSC, dress appropriately (as if you were going to your own faith community). Some faith communities have specific guidelines regarding dress. Be sure to check that out.

Another good opportunity for this assignment is the Gospel Brunch at the House of Blues in Downtown Disney. This happens every Sunday at 10:30 a.m. and 1 p.m.—around $35 per person, reservations required.

Faith Community Experience
Some suggested questions that you might ask during your visit:
When was this congregation chartered or started?
What are some of your most important beliefs?
What are some of their most important achievements?
When, where, and by whom was the religion/denomination/sect started?

What do you plan to do in the near future?

Is there anything that you would like to share about your faith and practices?
What are some of the highlights of your annual events?
What does you faith community do in community outreach in addressing, for instance, hunger, poverty, homelessness, crime, etc.?
What do you do very well?

World Religions

Mid-term Exam—REQUIRED!
Using complete sentences, answer the following questions in five to six pages. You are to answer the questions on just four of the major religions studied to this point—Indigenous Religions of Africa and North America; Hinduism; Buddhism; Jainism; Sikhism. You may cite any significant responses these religions have to contemporary ethical issues. You do not have to limit your responses to the questions posed. This is due on or before Friday, October 16, 2015 by 4:30 p.m.

  1. Human identity (i.e., Who are we as human beings? What are the basic problems facing humanity?)

  1. Human destiny (i.e., Why are we humans on earth? What happens to us when we die?)

  1. Cosmology (i.e., How did the world originate? How is it going to end?)

  1. Morality (i.e., How do we know what is right? What must we do for and with others? What about our environment?)

  1. The Sacred (i.e., What is sacred? How do we know what is sacred?


The format for doing this exam is up to you. You may take the questions in order and do all religions for that question. Or you may take each religion and do the questions one by one.

You will receive complete information/instructions for this major project which will essentially be in lieu of a major final paper.

Final papers are due on or before Friday, April 10, 2015 by 4 p.m. This is the absolute deadline. This includes your final paper concerning OPERATION GOLDEN RULE, the remainder of your journals, special assignment on the Israeli-Palestine problem, and any extra credit that you have.

Terms for the five quizzes—DO NOT LOSE THIS LIST!

Terms for quiz #1




secular, profane




















rites of passage


Terms for quiz #2:


Rites of passage

Cyclical time








Wakan Tanka


Cardinal Directions



Sun Dance

Terms for quiz #3














Law of Manu




Eight-fold Path

Siddartha Guatama

Functional Atheism

Ten Precepts

Theravada School

Mahayana School

Terms for the quiz #4

Yin and Yang

Lao Tzu

Zen School

Dao (Tao)



Tantric School


Shinto Myth


Nichiren School

Mahayana Texts

Master K’ung

Neo Confucianism

Tao Te Ching

Li Chi

Shang Ti





Qi (ch’I)

Wu wei



Terms for quiz #5—





Ahura Mazda














Protestant Reformation






Five Pillars of Islam

Yom Kippur

Eid Al-Fitr



Lake-Sumter State College

REL 2300 World Religions, 10220

Instructor: Dr. William C. Weckerly

Cell phone: 352-308-4096


Student Personal Data

Telephone number(s)__________________________________________________

E-mail address________________________________________________________
Please note: Lake Sumter Community College now has uniform student e-mail addresses. Make sure that you have updated this information. This way I can e-mail the entire class at one time if necessary. You may also include a personal e-mail address if you like.

Please list any special needs that you may have that I should be aware of. Certain special needs must be certified.

Other than passing the course, what do you hope to achieve in this class?

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