History 145

 History of World Religions

Spring 2016



3 units; 3 hours lecture
Recommended Preparation: eligibility for English 1A
Credit, degree applicable Transfer CSU, UC

Section #2440
M. and W. 11:15-12:40
Room: SOCS 117

Instructor: Dr. Florence M. Baker
Office: SOCS 116
Phone: (310) 532-3670 x3750
Office Hours: M. and W. 1:00-3:00 PM; T. and TH. 8:45-9:15 AM and by appointment
E-mail: fbaker@elcamino.edu

Course web site: http://www.elcamino.edu/faculty/fbaker/History%2037/Index.htm

1. Course Description
The History of World Religions is a survey of the origins, essential doctrines and historical development of the world’s major religious traditions from prehistory to today and their impact on the societies in which they appear. The course is divided into two parts: religions originating in the Middle East (Judaism, Christianity and Islam) and religions originating in India (Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism and Sikhism).

2. Course Overview
The purpose of this course is to assist you in acquiring the resources and analytical skills necessary to better understand, appreciate and evaluate the development of the major religions of the world and their impact in shaping contemporary life. Class materials include lectures, presentations, videos and assigned readings that will provide you with a basic framework of information. We will analyze these secondary sources as well as primary sources such as documents and cultural artifacts through class and group discussion and the writing of essay exams. In examining the past we will strive to identify and understand the broad patterns of religious thought and development as well as the role of religion in the history of global societies.

3. Required Text
William G. Oxtoby. A Concise Introduction to World Religions. 3rd Ed. Oxford University Press, 2015.

A study guide for this text is available at:

4. Course Objectives
Upon completion of the course, students will be able to:
1. Define and analyze the basic characteristics and functions of religion, theories of the origins of religion, and the historical method utilized to study world religions.
2. Assess the evidence of prehistoric religions and their major characteristics.
3. Identify and analyze the major characteristics of Native American religions and the influence of Christianity and non-native cultures in their development.
4. Identify the major characteristics of Native African religions and assess the impact of Christianity and Islam as well as the experience of colonialism and independence on Africa's religious development.
5. Evaluate the pre-Aryan and Aryan contributions to the development of Hinduism in India and the basic beliefs of Hinduism as expressed in the early Vedic scriptures.
6. Analyze the challenges posed to Hindu traditions by the teachings of Jainism and Buddhism and the relations between Hindus and Muslims in India, and the practice of Hinduism in India today.
7. Explain the basic teachings of Mahavira and the major contribution of Jainism to world religious thought.
8. Discuss the life of Gautama, analyze his teachings and the development of Theravada and Mahayana Buddhism, and identify various Buddhist beliefs and practices today.
9. Explain the origins of Sikhism, analyze its historical development from a pacifist movement to a more militant one, and discuss the divisions found in Sikhism today.
10. Analyze the traditional religious beliefs of China and how the decline of the feudal system contributed to the development of Confucianism and Taoism.
11. Explain and assess the basic teachings of Confucius and Lao-tzu, and the extent to which they developed into religions.
12. Analyze the impact of the Communist revolution and regime on religious development in China.
13. Examine and analyze the mythological basis of Shinto and its development in Japan, and the impact of Buddhism and Christianity on Shinto and its revival in the 17th century as a patriotic devotional expression.
14. Identify and evaluate the basic beliefs and practices of Zoroastrianism, its contributions to Middle Eastern religious traditions, and its present day status.
15. Discuss and analyze the origins, beliefs and values of Judaism as expressed in the Old Testament, and the impact of the Babylonian exile, diaspora and Holocaust on the development of Judaism.
16. Identify and explain the major divisions within modern Judaism.
17. Analyze the origins of Christianity in the context of first century Judaism and the Graeco-Roman World, and the early teachings and rituals of Christianity as indicated in the New Testament.
18. Discuss and evaluate the development of the Christian Church, differences between Eastern Orthodox and Western Christianity, and the impact of the Protestant Reformation.
19. Explain the significance of Vatican II and the ecumenical movement, and analyze Liberation Theology and fundamentalism as modern Christian movements.
20. Analyze the origins of Islam and its roots in Arab, Jewish and Christian religious traditions, as well as the major issues within Islam and the Muslim world today.
21. Analyze the Shi'ite origins of Baha'i and its major teachings and practices, and assess the significance of Baha'i in the modern world.
22. Identify and discuss contemporary religious trends and issues.

5. Student Learning Outcomes
Upon completion of History of World Religions, students will be able to develop and persuasively argue a historical thesis in a written assignment that identifies and explains major social, economic, political and/or cultural historical themes or patterns in the history of world religions and apply appropriate historical methods to analyze and use primary and/or secondary sources as evidence to support the thesis.

6. ADA Statement
El Camino College is committed to providing educational accommodations for students with disabilities upon the timely request by the student to the instructor. A student with a disability, who would like to request an academic accommodation, is responsible for identifying herself/himself to the instructor and to the Special Resources Center. To make arrangements for academic accommodations, contact the Special Resources Center.

7. Student Resources
Your success is the number one priority at El Camino College. College resources to help you succeed include computer labs, tutoring centers, health services, and services for designated groups, such as veterans and students with disabilities. For a comprehensive list of Student Success Transfer and Retention Services (SSTARS) visit: http://www.elcamino.edu/studentservices/co/sstars.asp 

8. Student Success Act
New state regulations may affect your eligibility for financial aid, your registration priority, and your ability to repeat classes. Schedule an appointment to see a counselor for an up-to-date educational plan by visiting: http://www.elcamino.edu/studentservices/co/appointments.asp

9. Title IX Employee Reporting Obligations
El Camino College is committed to protecting the safety of our students. If you have been a victim of misconduct/assault (including experiences of sexual harassment, sexual assault, stalking and intimate partner violence), help is available. You can:
1) Speak with an instructor. By law, faculty must report to the Office of Staff and Student Diversity any information about sexual or gender-based misconduct shared by students in person, via electronic communication and/or in classroom papers or homework exercises. Once an incident has been reported you can decide whether to cooperate with the investigation.
2) Speak with a psychologist at Student Health. This assistance is free and confidential – psychologists are not required to report to the Office of Staff and Student Diversity. To schedule an appointment, call the Student Health Center at 310.660.3643 or visit their website: http://www.elcamino.edu/studentservices/health/
3) Contact the Office of Staff and Student Diversity at 310.660.3813 or visit their website for more information about resources on and off campus: http://www.elcamino.edu/administration/hr/diversity/ 

10. Course Requirements and Evaluations
You are required to complete all reading, writing and exam assignments. Your course grade is determined in the following ways:

1) Chapter Quizzes for Assigned Textbook Reading
When you have finished reading a chapter, complete the Multiple Choice Quiz for the chapter and submit it to the instructor by the due date. These quizzes will be distributed in class.

2) A Midterm and Final Exam of about 4 to 5 pages each, typed and double-spaced.
These exams will be completed at home and require an analysis of course material including primary and secondary sources. They are evaluated and graded using the following criteria:

Answer ------ Did you answer the question assigned? All parts?
Evidence ---- Are your statements supported with evidence from class materials such as readings and lectures?
Analysis ---- To what extent does your exam demonstrate your use of critical thinking? Is there depth to your analysis? Is your argument presented logically and convincingly? Does it show your ability to synthesize diverse material and concepts?
Expression - Is your exam coherent, well-organized and written with clarity? Is your use of grammar and spelling correct?

3) A short research paper of about 10 pages in length typed and double-spaced.
In addition to the above criteria, the quality and use of your research materials and proper formatting of notes and bibliography using the University of Chicago Style are evaluated in determining your grade.

Grades for assignments and the course are based on the letter system as follows:

A - Excellent > assignment/course requirements have been met and a mastery of assignment/course objectives
B - Good > assignment/course requirements have been met and an above average proficiency of assignment/course objectives
C - Satisfactory > assignment/course requirements have been met and an average proficiency of assignment/course objectives
D - Less than satisfactory > not all assignment/course requirements have been met and only a
partial proficiency of assignment/course objectives
F - Fail > few assignment/course requirements have been met and little or no proficiency of
assignment/course objectives

11. Distribution of Grades
Online Quizzes ------------------ 15%
Midterm Exam ------------------ 25%
Research Paper ------------------ 35%
Final Exam ----------------------- 25%

Extra Credit of 5% may be added to your course grade. This extra credit may be earned by attending two eligible ECC campus events and guest lectures or maintaining excellent attendance.
> To earn extra credit for attending a campus event or lecture you must write up two paragraphs: one describing the event or lecture and the other discussing your thoughts about it. Submit this to me within a week of attending the event or lecture.
> To earn extra credit for maintaining excellent attendance you must have no more than three (excused or unexcused) absences from class during the term.

12. Course Policies
Attendance – In accordance with the college’s policy on attendance you are expected to attend class regularly, to arrive in class on time and to remain for the duration of the class. Note that two late arrivals for class will count as one absence. You may be dropped from the class if you miss more than four classes. If you intend to withdraw from a class, it is your obligation to do so; otherwise you will receive an “F” rather than “W” for the class.
Cell phones - Are to be turned off and put off your desk during class meetings.
Distractions - Only course related materials are to be on your desk during class meetings.
Disruptive behavior - Such as habitually arriving to class late or leaving class early, or talking during class will not be tolerated and will result in being suspended from class.
Dishonest behavior - Such as cheating and plagiarism will not be tolerated and will result in being suspended from class. Please see the El Camino College Catalog which gives examples of cheating and plagiarism that include:
- Representing the words, ideas or work of another as one’s own in any academic exercise
(plagiarism), including the use of commercial term paper companies [and such study aids as Cliff Notes and Spark Notes].
- Copying or allowing another student to copy from one’s paper or answer sheet during an examination [this includes for credit and graded assignments completed outside of the classroom]
- Falsifying or attempting to falsify attendance records and/or grade rosters.
Note – A student who persists in violating course policies after a suspension may be dropped from class.