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RELI 1024 Syllabus – Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University


RELI 1024 Syllabus
Judaism, Christianity, and Islam
Fall 2012

Instructor:  Holly Jordan
Email Address:
Class Time/Room: TTh 2-3:15 PM, McBryde 219
CRN:  98085
Office Hours/Office:  XXX and By Appointment, Lane 221

Liberal Education Information:

Three credits. Satisfies CLE Areas 2 and 7

Course Description:

Department of Religion Course Description:  The nature of “religion,” approaches to understanding “religion,” traditional and contemporary features of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, including their manifestations in the USA and their involvement in critical issues in a global context. (3H,3C). II.

Texts for the Course:

The required textbook for this class is Willard G. Oxtoby’s World Religions: Western Traditions, XXX Edition.

In addition, you also must have access, either in print or online, to a Hebrew Bible, a New Testament, and a Qur’an.  If you wish to purchase copies specifically for this class, the recommended editions are:

  • The New Oxford Annotated Bible:  New Revised Standard Version with the Apocrypha.  3rd Edition.  New York:  Oxford Univ. Press, 2001.
  • The Qur’an (Oxford World’s Classics). by M. A. S. Abdel Haleem (Translator).  Oxford University Press, USA; New Ed edition (July 28, 2005)

In addition, PDFs and links will be posted on Scholar.  A full schedule of readings is available on Scholar under Resources.

Course Structure and Rules of Conduct:

The structure of our classes will change from session to session.  Some days will rely more on lecture; others will be student-led.  As this is a class happening in real time, a day’s scheduled events may change if there is an item in the news worth bringing to the table.

As unstructured as this sounds, I do have a few rules.  First, just be the adults you are.  I expect everyone to treat both the material and each other with respect.  Religious tolerance is expected from each student.  At no time will you have to discuss your personal religious beliefs, but if you do, assume that you will be treated with courtesy.  I am big fan of Virginia Tech’s Principles of Community.  They will be in force in any academic setting:  class, Scholar, blogs.  Please be aware of them and act accordingly:

Second, come to class on time.  If you are consistently late to class without explanation, your participation grade will suffer.

Third, use whatever technology you need to do well in this class (computers, iPads, Kindles, etc.), even if that means quickly looking up a word on your phone’s dictionary.  That being said, use your technology wisely.  If something your doing with your tech is distracting to me or someone else, we may need to have a talk.  Bring whatever you need to do well.

Finally, check your email.  Set Scholar up to forward messages to your email if you are not good at checking Scholar often.  Check your email before class daily to make sure there have not been last-minute handouts or articles sent out.

Attendance Policy:

Come to class.  Come to class prepared.  If for some reason, you are not prepared that day, still come to class.  You are paying for this degree.  Come to class.

If you are absent, you still must complete any work due that day.  You will be allowed two unexcused absences this semester (I don’t feel like it/It’s too pretty outside/I just wanted to eat lunch/etc. days).  Use them wisely.  More than two will affect your participation grade.  Legitimate situations may arise during the semester that keep you from class (illness, family death, religious holiday, etc).  If you plan to be absent for a session, please notify me via email before that session.  If you are unable to attend class unexpectedly, please notify me before the next class session with the reason for your absence.  Absences ultimately will only be considered “excused” if proper documentation (doctor’s note, etc.) is provided within a week of the absence.

Grades Breakdown:

  • Weekly Blog Posts (20%):  Ten times during the semester, students will write a blog post on a topic from the upcoming week’s readings, to be posted by 8 p.m. Sunday nights.  These posts will begin with the course material and document your exploration of the topic online.  Students will also respond to a minimum of two other students’ blog entries each week by 8 p.m. Wednesday nights, regardless of whether they posted that week.  Students are highly encouraged to post in addition to these ten times about anything relating to the course.  See Scholar for a more detailed explanation of this requirement, including minimum standards for credit.
  • Judaism Quiz (5%) – For each religion, we will have an in-class quiz covering materials from the Oxtoby text.  This quiz will be towards the beginning of each religion and will ascertain whether students have a basic understanding of the religion before doing a deep-dive into critical issues within the religion.  There will be a study guide.
  • Judaism Paper (10%) – A week after we finish discussing each religion, students will have turn in a scholarly analysis paper.  Students will pick from predetermined topics or have the opportunity to choose their own topic in conjunction with me.  Details (length, format, etc.) are available on Scholar.
  • Christianity Quiz (5%)
  • Christianity Paper (10%)
  • Islam Quiz (5%)
  • Islam Paper (10%)
  • Group Presentation (15%):  Happening at three times throughout the semester, these presentations will look at a modern issue in a particular religion.  Students will present once during the semester, and sign-ups for presentations will happen early in the semester.  Requirements for the presentations are posted under “Resources” on Scholar.  Students’ grades for presentations will be graded along the following criteria:
    • Individual group members’ annotated bibliographies
    • Report from group’s first group meeting
    • Written portion of group project
    • Presentation in class
  • Participation (20%):  Participation will be based on attendance and involvement in class discussions.
  • Students in this course will be graded on a plus/minus system (i.e. A, A-, B+):
    A: 100-93, A-: 92-90, B+: 89-87, B: 86-83, B-: 82-80, C+: 79-77, C:  76-73, C-: 72-70, D+: 69-67, D: 66-63, D-: 62-60, F: 59-0

Academic Integrity

I will not tolerate any form of academic dishonesty in this class.  On all projects, I will make sure students are aware of the expected outcomes and project guidelines.  All work will be appraised under the guidelines of Virginia Tech’s Honor Code:

Students Requiring Accommodations:

If you are a student with special needs or circumstances, if you have emergency medical information to share with me, or if you need special arrangements in case the building must be evacuated, please make an appointment with me as soon as possible during my office hours.