Relg 120 F14: Schedule and Syllabus

RELIGIOUS STUDIES 120: World Religions
Spring 2014
Section 1752  TR 9:30-10:45    Location: F-710
Section 5493 TR 11-12:15 Location: F-710 Information about this section can be found at

INSTRUCTOR: Dr. Ian Duckles
                          When emailing, be sure to identify your name and which section you are in.
         Office Hours: By Appointment.

TEXTBOOK: There is one text required for this class:
  • Smith, Huston, The World's Religions. HarperOne, 1991. ISBN: 9780061660184
COURSE DESCRIPTIONAn introduction to the teachings, major figures, attitudes, and practices of world religions. 

COURSE OBJECTIVE: Students will learn the about the major religious traditions that currently exist in the world today. They will be able to identify the essential characteristics of these religions as well as use and explain the major philosophical and technical terms that are used to discuss religions. Lastly, students will compare and contrasts the world views espoused by these different traditions. 

COURSE CALENDAR (topics and important dates included): Homework will be due daily and assignments will be announced in class. Do not be concerned if we fall ahead or behind on this schedule. The most important goal is that everyone understand the concepts and problems. This schedule is subject to change. All changes will be announced in class and posted on the course website. All readings come from Huston Smith's The World's Religions, and should be completed by the day they are listed in the schedule. The homework assignments are due by the next class period after they are assigned.

Week 1: Introduction
Tuesday, August 19: Introduction to the Course
Homework: According to Huston Smith in the "Point of Departure" (pp. 1-11), what are four things this text is not? What are three things this text is?

Thursday, August 21: Introduction to Huston Smith and the Text (pp. 1-11)
Homework: What are the four things we truly want in life? What are the advantages and problems with each of these four things?

Week 2: Hinduism

August 26: Hinduism (pp. 12-36)
Homework: Explain the four "Paths to God." What differentiates each of them? For whom is each path appropriate?

August 28: Hinduism (pp. 37-59)
Homework: What are the four castes that make up the caste system? What is the fifth "caste" outside the system? Identify some of the major features or characteristics of the caste system.

Week 3: Hinduism and Buddhism

September 2: Hinduism (pp. 59-78)
Homework: What were the "Four Passing Sites" that led to Siddhartha's discontentment with his life? What lives did Siddhartha try on once he left his home to seek enlightenment and understanding?

September 4: Buddhism (pp. 82-103)

Week 4: Buddhism

September 9: Buddhism (pp. 103-127)
Homework: Explain the three strands or "Rafts" of Buddhism. What are some of the major differences that characterize each of them?

September 11: Buddhism (pp. 128-149)

Week 5: Film

September 16: Watch Film in Class

September 18: Continue and discuss film.

Week 6: Exam

September 23: Review for Exam

September 25: Exam 1

Week 7: Confucianism

September 30: Confucianism (pp. 154-172)
Homework: What does Huston Smith mean by "Deliberate Tradition"? What values will Confucius emphasize in developing his "Deliberate Tradition." (pages 167-72)

October 2: Confucianism (pp. 172-193)
Homework: In your opinion, is Confucianism best understood as a religion or an ethical system? Why?

Week 8: Taoism

October 7:  Taoism (pp. 196-207)

October 9:  Taoism (pp. 207-218) Site Visit Activity Report 1 Due
Homework: Explain the differences among the three major schools of Taoism.

Week 9: Islam

October 14: Islam (pp. 221-242)
Homework: Try and summarize the life of Mohammed. Focusing on the key events in his life as they relate to Islam. 

October 16: Islam (pp. 242-257)

Week 10: Islam And Judaism

October 21: Islam (pp. 257-268)
Homework: Explain the Five Pillars of Islam.

October 23: Judaism (pp. 271-293)

Week 11: Judaism

October 28: Judaism (pp. 293-315)
Homework: Identify the major defining characteristics that distinguish the three major branches of Islam: Shi'ite, Sunni, and Sufi.

October 30: Continue Judaism
Homework: Describe three of the areas the Jews invested with meaning. Be sure to only discuss areas we didn't discuss in class.

Week 12: Judaism

November 4: Continue Judaism

November 6: Review for Exam

Week 13: Exam

November 11: NO CLASS!! Veterans Day

November 13: Exam 2

Week 14: Christianity

November 19: Christianity (pp. 317-339)

November 20: NO CLASS!!

Week 15: Thanksgiving

November 25: Christianity (pp. 339-362)

November 27: Happy Thanksgiving! No Class.

Week 16: Primal Religions

December 2: Primal Religions (pp. 365-382)

December 4: Review for Final; Site Visit Activity Report 2 Due

The Final Exam for section 1752 (9:30-10:45) will be on Tuesday, December 9 from 9:30-11:30 in F-710.


  • 15% Midterm Examination 1
  • 15% Midterm Examination 2
  • 20% Final Examination
  • 20% Pop Quizzes: These will be given at the start of class and they cannot be made up if missed. I will drop at least one quiz.
  • 10% Homework: This will be assigned in class. I will not accept late assignments.
  • 20% Activity Reports: Encountering the worship, activities, and leaders of "unfamiliar" religious traditions can be rewarding ways to experience first-hand what has been studied in the course. Two reports on such activities will be required, one from an Eastern tradition and one from a Western tradition. They will each count for 10% of your grade. You will find guidelines for these reports elsewhere on the course website, and a discussion about these reports will take place during the early weeks of the semester.

Grade Scale:
A: 93-100 %

A-: 90-92 %

B+: 88-89 %

B: 83-87 %
B-: 80-82 %
C+: 78-79 %

C: 70-77 %
D: 60-69 %
F:  <60 %


Student Responsibility to Drop/Withdraw: It is the student’s responsibility to officially add, drop, or withdraw from the course stated in the class schedule. Failure to do so can result in a failing grade.

Class Attendance: During the first two weeks of the semester, you will be dropped for missing any class. After that, a student may be disenrolled from the course after two absences; however, a student will be disenrolled from the course after eight absences without exception. ATTENDANCE IS VERY IMPORTANT FOR THIS PARTICULAR COURSE.

Tardiness/Early Departure: If a student arrives unreasonably late or leaves early without notifying the instructor before the event, then that student will be considered absent for that class session.

Professionalism: It is assumed that students will conduct themselves in a professional manner with a positive attitude. An open mind is one of the most important tools required for success in academia. If a student is negative and feels as is there is nothing of value to be gained by the college experience or this course, he or she will not do well in this course.

Student Code of Ethics and Conduct: Students must abide by the Student Code of Conduct. Students who obstruct the instructor’s ability to convey knowledge, or disrupt their fellow students’ ability to learn, will be dealt with under the terms delineated in the Grossmont College Student Code of Conduct. Such dealings may include, but are not limited to, warnings, written reprimands, disciplinary probations, instructor-initiated suspensions, terminations of financial aid, short or long-term suspensions from campus, and temporary or permanent expulsions. These consequences are serious and can easily be avoided.

Examples of disruptive activities that will not be tolerated are: repeated cell phone ringing, repeatedly falling asleep in class, excessive talking, texting, passing of notes, entering and leaving class several times during a session, verbal rudeness directed towards the instructor and/or other students, and non-verbal rudeness directed towards the instructor and/or other students. Finally, ACADEMIC DISHONESTY IS GROUNDS FOR DISMISSAL FROM THE COURSE. If you are unsure of what academic dishonesty is, ask the instructor.

This instructor is charged with maintaining a positive learning experience for all students in this course, and that responsibility is a serious one. Disruptive behaviors will not be tolerated in this course.

Academic Integrity: Cheating and plagiarism (using as one’s own ideas, writings or materials of someone else without acknowledgement or permission) can result in any one of a variety of sanctions.  Such penalties may range from an adjusted grade on the particular exam, paper, project, or assignment to a failing grade in the course.  The instructor may also summarily suspend the student for the class meeting when the infraction occurs, as well as the following class meeting.  For further clarification and information on these issues, please consult with your instructor or contact the office of the Assistant Dean of Student Affairs.

Accommodations for Students with Disabilities: Students with disabilities who may need accommodations in this class are encouraged to notify the instructor and contact Disabled Student Programs and Services (DSPS) early in the semester so that reasonable accommodations may be implemented as soon as possible. Students may contact DSPS in person in room A-113 or by phone at (619) 660-4239 (voice) or (619) 660-4386 (TTY for deaf) or online at

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TIPS FOR SUCCESS IN THIS COURSE (Thanks to Professor June Yang):
  1. Be optimistic about your ability to learn from the textbook, the instructor, and each other.
  2. Do all homework. It will be collected every time, and spot-checked.
  3. Do all assigned reading.
  4. If you find you fall behind in your understanding, contact the instructor.
  5. Be prepared to spend time outside of class working on class material, doing readings, homework, preparing for quizzes and exams, etc.
  6. Have confidence in your ability to do the work.
  7. Ask questions if you don't understand something.
  8. Remember that you are gifted with more education and intelligence than many persons on this planet. If you try, you are sure to get it, or at least most of it!
  9. Remember that we are all here to learn.