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    Exploring World Religions Online Syllabus

    Instructor Information

    Name: Dr. Michael Robertson
    Office Location: Carlsen Center 336
    Office Hours: By Appointment Only
    Virtual Office Hours M-F 9:00 to 10:00 a.m. in Canvas
    Phone: (913) 469-8500, ext. 4191

    Course Information

    Course Title: Exploring World Religions
    Course Number: REL 120-351 and 352
    Course Discipline: Philosophy and Religion
    Location: Online
    Prerequisite(s): If this is your first class using Canvas it is strongly recommended that you attend one of the Online Student Seminars. Click the link for dates and times. If you are unable to attend, orientation materials are available via Online Webcast.


    World Religions, Warren Matthews, Thomson/Wadsworth, 7th edition, 2013 (ISBN 978-1111834722).Textbook information is available at the JCCC Bookstore. Discounted new and used books are available from Students can purchase an online copy of the text at VitalSource (ISBN 978-1133714293).

    Warren matthews World Religions 7th ed.


    Course Requirements

    ONLINE DISCUSSION. The online discussions will substitute for a classroom environment. The discussions are located in the Discussions and relative content Module, and by a link on the Calendar. A set of new discussion questions will be posted every Monday during the semester. This is not a self-paced course.

    The class will be divided into discussion groups by last name. Students must reply to their assigned question within four (4) days of the date of the original posting (midnight Thursday). The student must also reply to a post made by a student in another group on any day other than the day of the original post. All posts must be made within 7 days of the original posting date (midnight Sunday), after which the discussion will be closed and graded. The purpose is to create a meaningful conversation of the various topics under discussion.

    Students will receive three (3) points for their initial post by responding in detail with information from the text in such a way that provides an analysis of the relevance and importance of the information presented, and a synthesis of that information with the knowledge the student has accumulated from previous chapters / discussions / personal experiences. Posts can be supplemented with external source material, either from published works or the internet. However, internet source material must not supplant the text.

    Responses lacking detail or analysis will receive (2.5) points; responses lacking detail and analysis will receive two (2) points. Posts that merely restate (or copy-and-paste) the basic information on the Chapter Outline or internet sources will receive one (1) point. The student’s reply to a post in another group will receive one (1) point, for a total possible of four (4) points per discussion question (3/1=4).

    One-half point (.5 point) will be deducted if the student does not reply to the discussion within 4 days of the posting date, or makes both required posts on the same day. Students who post all responses on the last day of the 7-day posting period will be penalized 50% of their initial reply. Failure to respond at all will receive zero (0) points. Posts that consist mostly of plagiarized content will also receive zero (0) points, and will result in a warning for the first offense. A second offense will result in disciplinary action. Initial posts may also be assessed a one-half-point (.5) penalty for spelling, grammar, style, or undocumented content. To help manage the total number of posts per topic, students should post no more than 4 replies per question. Postings not relevant to the discussion question will be moved to the “Student Lounge.”

    Reply Post Note: I’m looking for evidence in your reply post that you have full knowledge of the subject matter of the question as if it were the question you were required to answer. Thus, it is important to respond to the comments of your peer in such a way that advances the discussion by providing additional information or insights rather than a simple agreement to the comments, a restatement of basic facts, or a purely personal or subjective comment.

    The student’s online discussion score will be calculated by adding points and dividing by 60 total possible points to produce a percentage. For example, 52 points divided by 60 possible points produces 86 percentage points (86%). The online discussions constitute 55% of your final grade.

    Students are not required to read every post in the discussion forum (that would be too time consuming); however, it is advisable that students at the very least read the instructor’s replies because they often provide additional information, answer questions raised in the discussion, and clarify or correct misinformation.

    QUIZZES. There will be fifteen short (15 questions) quizzes during the semester and constitute 45% of your final grade. The student will have 20 minutes to complete the quiz, after which the quiz must be submitted. The dates for the quizzes and exams are listed on the Calendar, or by clicking the AssignmentsAnnouncements, or Modules links on the Navigation bar.

    Quizzes are objective in format (T/F and multiple-choice identification). Quizzes open Thursday morning and must be completed by 11:59 Sunday. Since Canvas is available 24/7, there should be no reason for students to miss the quizzes. Missed quizzes are subject to a 2 point penalty.

    EXTRA CREDIT. The student can earn up to twenty (20) points extra credit by attending two (2) religious services–an indigenous religion or one originating in Asia (for example, Hindu, Buddhist, Confucian/Taoist, Native American) and a contemporary religion or one that originated in the Middle-East or Europe (for example, Jewish, Christian, Muslim, or Wiccan)–that lie outside the student’s own religious affiliation or cultural tradition. The student will write a short essay, 600 words minimum (two [2] pages of text), each worth ten (10) points. The due dates for the extra credit essays are listed in Assignments and on the Calendar.

    NOTE: A student who is a member of an Eastern religion must go outside his/her own religious tradition. For example, a Zen Buddhist cannot attend a Mahayana Buddhist meditation). A student who is a member of a Western/Middle-Eastern religion also must go outside his/her own tradition. For example, a Christian who is a member of a Protestant denomination cannot attend a Catholic service, nor a Reform Jew attend an Orthodox service. American born students who claim to have no religious affiliation are ‘Christian’ by default and thus cannot attend any form of Christian service. The ONLY exception is Greek Orthodox. Students however are able to attend newer forms of Christian practice, such as Unity, Unitarian, Christian Scientist, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Rastafarian, and the Unification Church (“Moonies”), to name a few.

    CALCULATED GRADE. The Canvas Gradebook displays your current calculated grade percentage based on the above weighted assignment categories and assigns a corresponding letter grade according to the following categories:

    A = .900 pct.

    B = .800 pct.

    C = .700 pct.

    D = .600 pct.

    F = .599 pct.

    At the end of the semester, after all assignments and extra credit has been graded and posted to the gradebook, the student will receive a final adjusted grade which will be the Final Grade for the course. The professor reserves the right to adjust the final calculated grade to more accurately reflect the student’s overall academic performance, especially in regard to online activity (total online time, percentage of posts read in addition to meeting minimum posting requirements). Students who are on the borderline between grades (79% for example) may receive the higher grade if the student’s online discussion grade is above 80% and the student’s online activity is above average.

    NOTE: Students must have an online discussion grade of at least 60 percent in order to receive a passing grade of “C.” If the student’s online discussion score is less than 60 percentage points one week before the drop date, the professor will notify the student via Canvas and JCCC email that the student may be administratively dropped from the course on the drop date if a remedy to the student’s lack of online participation is not made between the student and professor. Should students begin to have problems during the semester, either academic or personal, that might prevent them from completing the course requirements, please contact me as soon as possible. Do not wait until the last week of class.

    If you are an international student, student athlete or required to maintain full time status due to a third party or insurance, withdrawing from the class can have severe negative effects and may mean you will not have enough credits to be a full-time student.


    1. No quiz may be repeated and are available only during the dates and time ranges listed. If you are unable to take the exam/quiz within the scheduled dates and time due to illness or some other legitimate reason you must contact me by Canvas email or leave an explanatory message on my voice mail at ext. 4191 within 24 hours after the initial scheduled time of the quiz. Those failing to contact me within 24 hours of missing a quiz can still take the quiz with a 2-point penalty. Those failing to make-up ta quiz will receive a “0” for that quiz. However, the student will have the opportunity to make up lost points through extra credit.
    2. Those who wish to make an appointment with me and who are not free during my office hours, contact me either by phone or Canvas mail to arrange an appointment, or schedule an online chat.
    3. An “I” (Incomplete) will be given only if special circumstances prevent the student from completing the class. Arrangements must be made before semester grades are submitted, and students must sign a contract with me agreeing to complete the class requirements by the end of the following 16-week semester (refer to the JCCC College Catalog for details).
    4. In order to avoid financial responsibility, you must officially drop the class within the stated refund periods. Be aware that dropping classes may reduce your eligibility for financial aid, resulting in debt owed by you. DO NOT assume you will be dropped automatically if you do not pay your tuition or if you do not attend classes. Courses not dropped will be graded, most likely resulting in an ‘F’ for the course. The last day to withdraw and receive a “W” is listed on the course Calendar.To view the deadline dates for dropping this course, please refer to the schedule on the JCCC website under Admissions > Enrollment Dates > Dropping Credit Classes. After the 100% refund date, you will be financially responsible for the tuition charges; for details, search on Student Financial Responsibility on the JCCC web page. Changing your schedule may reduce eligibility for financial aid and other third party funding. Courses not dropped will be graded. For questions about dropping courses, contact the Student Success Center at 913-469-3803.
    5. Cheating of any kind will not be tolerated. Any violation of the Student Code of Conduct will result in being denied access to Canvas, an automatic “F” for the course, and referred to the academic dean for disciplinary action. Because this is a face-to-face class supplemented with online materials, there is a greater temptation to cheat. Be advised that Canvas records your online activity and makes that data available to the professor.
    6. Note to couples, roommates, and siblings: you can study together, but you must do and submit your own, independent work. You cannot share a computer for submitting quizzes/exams or assignments, nor can you use computers in close proximity in a lab or at home. The only exception to this are computers in the Testing Center. Canvas registers the IP address of each user. To avoid any suspicion of cheating, my advice is to make sure that your quiz/exam and assignment submission dates are separated by time (1 day minimum) AND space (separate locations). If you are unable to accomplish this, one of you should drop the course and enroll in another course and/or section. Minor violations of this rule will result in the loss of one final grade bracket (for example, from a B to a C); flagrant and consistent violations will result in a ‘F’ for the course and being referred to the academic dean for disciplinary action.
    7. Access to Canvas is extended to you for the duration of your enrollment in the course, providing that you comply with class and school policies. You may not share that access with another person who is not enrolled in the course. Students who do so violate the privacy of other students as well as the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Acts (FERPA). The act may lead to the violator being denied access to the Canvas shell.
    8. On occasion, I permit others to enter the course, to critique my work, to view the operations of the course, or to work on a technical problem. For the entire term, my technical consultant has access to the course to provide continuity for you should I experience a personal emergency.
    9. JCCC provides a range of services to allow persons with disabilities to participate in educational programs and activities. If you are a student with a disability and if you are in need of accommodations or services, it is your responsibility to contact Access Services and make a formal request. To schedule an appointment with an Access Adviser or for additional information, you can contact Access Services at (913) 469-3521 or Access Services is located on the 2nd floor of the Student Center (SC 202).
    10. The Academic Achievement Center (AAC) in OCB 304 offers students walk-in assistance with study skills, reading, and test review. Students are also welcome to use the AAC as a place to study. AAC staff are available to assist students with forming study groups, completing class assignments, and using the Canvas learning management system and the Pearson My Lab platform. The AAC offers courses designed to provide students with the foundation they need to be successful in college and to meet academic goals, and also presents study skills workshops on a variety of topics.
    11. For more information about campus safety please view the JCCC Police and Safety page, and the JCCC Student Handbook.

    Course Goals

    Upon completing this course, the student should be able to:

    1. Identify the principal texts, central religious figures, and ideas of the major world religions.
    2. Demonstrate knowledge of the beliefs, practices, and values of the major world religions.
    3. Describe the historical narratives and cultural expressions of the major world religions.
    4. Analyze concepts and issues basic to the study of the major world religions in a comparative framework.
    5. Assess the varieties of religious experience in a world of religious diversity that permit correction and dialogue, and subject the student’s cultural beliefs and values to critical, reflective thought.
    6. Summarize key characteristics and definitions of religion.

    This page was last modified 08-15-20