Religious Studies 111

RELN 111
Introduction to Religion


1. Catalog Entry

RELN 111
Introduction to Religion

Credit hours (3)

Presents recurrent forms and issues in religious life, e.g. myths, rituals, the nature of the divine, good and evil, and introduces students to the academic study of religion. Traditions are covered thematically, with emphasis upon cross-cultural features of religion and pertinent theories.

Note(s): This course has been approved for Core Curriculum credit in Humanities.

2. Detailed Description of Course

This course introduces students to the academic study of religion. While this course is taught by several different instructors who may use a variety of approaches to achieve this goal, it will be developed thematically and emphasize the cross-cultural study of religion. Students will learn about recurrent forms, such as, myth, ritual and symbol that are part of a variety of religions. They will explore significant issues, such as the nature of the divine, good and evil, and the problem of suffering. Students will also learn about significant theories, such as those of Freud, Eliade, Geertz, and Turner. They will learn to distinguish the academic study of religion, a scholarly investigation of a universal type of human behavior, from personal belief and theology.

3. Detailed Description of Conduct of Course

Though primarily a lecture course, this course will also involve students in small group and open class discussion and in a variety of formal and informal writing activities. Because this course is taught by several instructors, the specific format may vary, but in every case the course will involve a plurality of instructional strategies designed to engage students in doing philosophy not just learning about philosophers. Whether or not a formal research paper is assigned in the class, students will be expected to employ basic research skills, including the use of computer technology, to investigate and gather information on various topics and figures discussed in class. Among the teaching activities students can expect in this course are the following:
    1) Lecture and discussion led by instructor
    2) Small-group discussion
    3) In-class formal and informal debates
    4) Individual and group oral presentations
    5) Informal in-class and out-of-class writing assignments
    6) Journals
    7) Individual and collaborative research activities involving library and Internet searches
    8) Written and oral analysis of texts
    9) Written summaries/evaluations of out-of-class events
    10)Videos, slides, and multimedia presentations

4. Goals and Objectives of the Course

Students should be able to:
    1) Define the term "religion"
    2) Discuss "religion" as an aspect of human life and culture
    3) Recognize recurrent forms such as myths, rituals, and symbols which are aspects of diverse religions
    4) Recognize some of the important theories about the function of religion in the lives of individuals and communities
    5) Appreciate the importance of Religious Studies as a means to understanding humans as individuals and members of communities
    6) Appreciate the importance of Religious Studies as a means to understanding diverse cultures

CORE Curriculum Learning Goals
Students who complete RELN 111: Introduction to Religion in the University CORE Curriculum will also demonstrate competency in the following CORE Curriculum Goals:

Goal 7
Radford University students will understand that human experience has given rise to significant questions and be aware of the nature and methods of inquiry in the humanities.

Radford University students will:
    1) Identify principles, concepts, or developments crucial to inquiry in a humanities discipline;
    2) Recognize how a method of inquiry in the humanities can be applied to a disciplinary question.

5. Assessment Measures

Student progress in achieving the course-specific objectives and the General Education goals established for this course will be measured in a variety of ways. Because this course is taught by several instructors, the specific assessment instruments employed may vary, but in every case the instructor will employ a number of the following methods to evaluate aspects of student learning:
    1) Graded and ungraded homework assignments may be used to measure the student's ability to read texts carefully, to identify
        underlying values and assumptions, to articulate central concepts, to analyze and construct logical arguments, and to employ
        basic research methods.
    2) Journals may be used to measure the development of self-reflection and progress in critical and creative thinking about the ideas,
        issues, and texts of the course.
     3) Class discussions, debates, and small group discussion may be used to measure the student's logical reasoning and oral
        communication skills as well as the student's ability to work with others in a shared process of inquiry.
    4) Individual and group oral presentations may be used to measure the student's understanding of particular philosophical positions or
        issues as well as the student's ability to present logical and persuasive arguments.
    5) Quizzes and objective tests may be used to measure the student's basic knowledge of the course material and the student's ability to
        read carefully and think with clarity.
    6) Essay exams may be used to measure the student's understanding of the nature and methods of philosophy, knowledge of the
        course material, ability to analyze and construct arguments, and ability to think and to write with clarity.
    7) Research reports may be used to measure the student's ability to employ appropriate research methods and technologies.
    8) Term papers may be used to measure the student's understanding of the nature of philosophical inquiry and knowledge of specific
        figures or issues addressed in the course, as well as to measure the student's ability to develop a sustained and persuasive
        argument, to think and write with clarity, and to demonstrate an appreciation of the significance of philosophy to his or her own
        life and concerns.

6. Other Course Information

None

Review and Approval
July 1991
May 1994
May 1995
January 27, 1997
April 17, 1998
March 31, 1999
September 18, 2001
June 20, 2015