Introduction to World Religions Syllabus for 2021-2022
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Instructor Information

Office Location

Off Campus

Office Hours

by appointment

Course Information

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PHIL-1304-005 Introduction to World Religions


Course Description

A comparative study of world religions, including but not limited to Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

Student ResourcesStudent Resources Website

Department Expectations

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Notice to Students enrolled in an educational program for preparation of issuance of certain occupational licenses:

Students enrolled in an educational program in preparation for obtaining certain occupational licenses are potentially ineligible for such license if the student has been convicted of an offense. For further information, please contact:

Melodie Graves
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(3 sem hrs; 3 lec)

Class Type

Online Course

Syllabus Information


Brodd, Little, Nystrom, Platzner, Shek, and Stiles, Invitation to World Religions, New York, Oxford Press, 2013.


Textbook, pens, pencils, 3-hole notebook paper, a 3-ring binder (1 inch width is ample), access to a computer in order to complete written assignments, to view websites, etc.  Access to library materials is necessary for successful completion of this course.

Student Performance


Online communication will be achieved between students and the professor by using AC Connect.  It is the student's responsibility to check for email messages and announcements regarding this class by clicking on AC Connect on the Amarillo College home page, and then clicking on the icon identifying this class.  You will be able to communicate with both your classmates and professor, check your syllabus, reviews for the examinations, and find your grades posted there.


Student Learning Outcomes are based on the required Core Curriculum Intellectual Competencies, Perspectives and Exemplary Educational Objectives as defined by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.

Course Student Learning Outcomes:  CCIC 1,2,3,4,5 CCP 1,2,5,7,8 EEOSB 1,2,4,5,9,10,12

Upon successful completion of this course, students will:

Upon successful completion of this course, students will:

  1. Read, analyze, and critique religious texts.
  2. Demonstrate knowledge of beliefs, practices, values, and terminology of major world religions.
  3.  Trace the historical developments and cultural expressions of world religions.
  4.  Articulate key conceptual distinctions in the different world religions.
  5.  Communicate understanding of world religions, orally or in writing.
  6. Communicate ways of living responsibly in a world where people have diverse religious beliefs.

Philosophy and Religion are both important parts to the foundation of a liberal arts education. Courses in either philosophy or religion help to provide a deeper understanding of the concepts which have formed human cultures while at the same time helping to develop the students’ skills in critical analysis, their ability to write and interpret texts from all cultures, and to examine the ideas behind theoretical thinking. 


1. Attendance.  Regular attendance and classroom participation. Two unexcused absences will result in the loss of one letter grade for the semester unless it is made up.  Four unexcused absences will then result in the loss of two letter grades unless at least one of those absences is made up.  Absences may be excused if they are the result of illness, official Amarillo College business, or personal emergencies.   It is your responsibility to talk with the instructor about this, though.  He will never bring it up to you. Unexcused absences may be made up by doing extra work as approved by your instructor.


2. Reading.  A careful reading of all the assigned sections of the textbooks (see the class outline that begins on page 3 of this syllabus to find your specific reading assignments), and all informational sheets given to you in class or online. 


3. Testing.  The successful completion of 7 unit exams and a final examination.  The final will be an essay format (consult the final exam tab under lessons to see a full description of the final).   See the course outline for the dates of these exams.  All exams are open at the beginning of the semester; however, once the due date for a particular exam expires you will no longer have access to that exam.  Therefore, it is critical that you pay attention to the due dates listed in the syllabus.



4. Research. You will be assigned a research paper topic at beginning of the semester.  Each topic will come from the discussion questions that you will be posting throughout the course.  See the following for more information.


  • You will be researching the discussion question that you have been assigned in more detail from the five major world religions (Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam).  The original discussion posts are subjective in nature, and the only research required typically is to read the section in your course text and also your class notes on each of the religions that we study.  Thus, there is no real research involved initially in the discussion.  You will be doing academic research in order to more critically assess the question that you have been assigned.  For example, the question for the unit of Buddhism is: “How does Buddhism handle the issue of pain and suffering (both in the individual and the world at large)?.

    After researching the question using at least 5 external academic (books, journal articles, primary resources...etc.) resources you will then write your paper and give a through answer to the question assigned.  At the same time, you will incorporate at least 3 of your peers' original posts (from the discussion board) on the topic.  You are now in a better position to agree or disagree with your peers based on your research.  Your paper must be between 3-5 pages in length and include a bibliography (not included in your page count).  You will write the paper utilizing MLA format.  If you have not used MLA format please go to the writer’s corner and they will help you format your paper.   Below is a link for the writer's corner.

The “Writer’s Corner” is in room 102 of Ordway Hall on the Washington Street campus.

a. You must also include a “Works Cited” page with at least five different sources which are also cited inside the paper.

b. You may also choose to use an up-to-date edition of the MLA Handbook available in the college bookstore and/or the library for guidance regarding both form and documentation

c. The assigned religions will be:

  1. Hinduism
  2. Buddhism
  3. Judaism
  4. Christianity
  5. Islam

Office Hours:  By appointment.  Please email me and we will arrange a time to meet on campus, or we can arrange a time to speak together over the phone.  I am more than willing to meet with you.

Students Rights and Responsibilities

Student Rights and Responsibilities

Log in using the AC Connect Portal

In order to receive your AC Connect Email, you must log in through AC Connect at .

If you are an active staff or faculty member according to Human Resources, use "Exchange". All other students, use "AC Connect (Google) Email".

Expected Student Behavior

Be courteous to your fellow student and to your instructor. Only post appropriate responses that are respectful both of the religion being studied and of your classmates.  Cheating or collusion will not be tolerated.  If you are caught cheating you will be given a 0 for the assignment on the first offense.  If you are caught a second time, you will fail the class.


Policy Concerning Sensitive Subject Matter:
In the college experience, students encounter diverse views and new subject matter, which expand their knowledge and perspective.  In all Humanities or Philosophy courses, we might observe, read and discuss some works with subject matter that could include (but not be limited to) death, violence, sexuality, race, potentially offensive language, and political or religious viewpoints different from your own.  If any sensitive subject matter is a concern for you, please arrange a meeting with the instructor.
Policy Concerning late work and extra credit.
I do not allow extra credit in this course.  Late work which results from an absence that is"excused" (such as a medical emergency or other unforeseen circumstance that is deemed as an appropriate excuse by the instructor) may be turned in late.  However, it is up to the student to contact the instructor for permission to turn in late work.  The instructor will not allow late assignments to be turned in because a student simply missed an assignment due to procrastination or any other non-emergency situation.

Grading Criteria



Exams                             60%             89.5-100A

Discussion                      15%              79.5-89B

Research paper              10%               65.5-79C

 Final Exam                     15%               59.5-69D  


I do not allow extra credit for this class.  Furthermore, all assignments are due on the dates listed in the course calendar.  No exceptions.

After 9pm, I will not check my email.  Please do not wait until the last minute to take your exams or post your discussions.  If you have any questions I will email you within 24hrs (Mon-Fri), but don't expect a replay after 9pm.  I will typically wait until the next day to get back to you.


Regular and prompt attendance is vital for satisfactory achievement.  It is the responsibility of the student to logon to class at least twice a week.




OVERVIEW and assignments




Text Book 3-25 and notes for unit 1

Oct 26th (11:55pm)

Discussion 1


Oct 28th (11:55pm)

Unit 1 Exam



American Spirituality and African Religions


 Nov 2nd (11:55pm)

Discussion 2

Text Book 29-78 and notes for unit 2

Nov 2nd (11:55pm)

Discussion 3


Nov 4th (11:55pm)

Unit 2 Exam: Oral and African Religions



Nov 9th (11:55pm)

Discussion 4

Textbook 83-139 and notes for unit 3

Nov 11th (11:55pm)

Unit 3 Exam: Hinduism





Nov 16th  (11:55pm) Discussion 5 Textbook 145-205 and note for unit

Nov 18th     (11:55pm)

Unit 4 Exam: Buddhism





Nov 23rd       (11:55pm)

Discussion 6

Textbook 341-394 and notes for unit 5

Nov 24th   (11:55pm) Unit 5 Exam: Judaism  




Nov 30th


Discussion 7 Textbook 401-451 and notes for unit 6
Dec 2nd (11:55pm)    Unit 6 Exam: Christianity  

Dec 7th (12:55pm)

Discussion 8

Textbook 459-509 and notes for unit 7

Dec 9th (11:55pm)

Unit 7 Exam: Islam



Dec 13th  (11:55pm)

Research Paper Due


Dec 14th  (11:55pm) Final Exam Due  


Additional Information




1.      Regular attendance and participation (see “Attendance Policy” on p. 1 of this syllabus)


2.      The successful completion of eight examinations. 


3.      Discussion questions for each unit (a total of 9 for the class): For every Discussion Forum in this class: You will need to post at least one original response and reply to two others to receive a grade of 100.  If you post once and reply to one other, you will receive a grade of 85.  If you post once and do not reply to any other posts, you will receive a 70.  If you do not post or reply, you will receive a 0. (I will also be looking at the quality of your posts and edit your grades accordingly.)  You will have access to all of the discussions at the beginning of the semester; however, they are due by 11:55pm on the date assigned in your course calendar.  You are encouraged to work ahead on this assignment.



4.        Required Exams:  There will be (8) exams, throughout the course of the semester.  The student is expected to take exams on the date scheduled in the course outline.  All exams will be open at the beginning of the semester; however, exams will close and no longer be available after the due date for each exam expires (see the course calender for due dates).  The questions for your exams will be taken from your notes and your reading from the course textbook.

5.      Research: Each student will submit a research paper for the course.  See the above information on this assignment.


Syllabus Created on:

10/22/21 11:38 AM

Last Edited on:

10/22/21 11:41 AM