Introduction to Religion


    General Information

    Professor Information

    Professor Photo
    Erin Weston
    (305) 348-1329
    DM, 322B
    MMC Campus
    By Appointment

    Please use Blackboard course messages

    Course Description And Purpose

    This online section of Introduction to Religion will use a multimedia approach to explore the basic concepts in the study of religion. This format's scope includes the exploration of concepts such as deity, theodicy, cosmology and ritual and others such as religious social implications in society. The student will be introduced to each concept through the textbook, videos, and PowerPoint presentations by members of the Religious Studies faculty, each in their own research specialization. Throughout the course the student will also be exposed to specific rituals, myths, doctrines, ethics and symbols from various different world religions and cultures. Students will be tested on this material through time-restricted quizzes and exams. Two research papers will develop the student’s critical thinking skills and writing abilities. For the site visit essay, the student will conduct field research by attending a religious service outside of their own tradition.

    This course fulfills the Gordon Rule requirement; you must earn a “C” or better to receive credit for this course.

    Course Objectives

    Students will be able to:

    • explain the basic history, development, and belief system of various religious traditions;
    • recognize religious themes and concepts found in other cultures;
    • identify the meaning behind religious concepts and symbols;
    • evaluate their own religious views in regards to other cultures and paradigms of religious thought;
    • apply critical thinking to various topics in the field of religious studies;
    • think creatively about religious issues in the contemporary world; and
    • perform field research to better understand a particular religious community.

    Global Learning Course Outcomes

    Students will be able to:

    • Global Awareness: Students will be able to demonstrate knowledge of the interrelatedness of local, global, international, and intercultural issues, trends, and systems.

    • Global Perspective: Students will be able to conduct a multi-perspective analysis of local, global, international, and intercultural problems.

    • Global Engagement: Students will be able to demonstrate willingness to engage in local, global, international, and intercultural problem solving.

    This is a Global Learning Foundations course that counts towards your Global Learning graduation requirement.

    Important Information


    Please review the FIU's Policies webpage. The policies webpage contains essential information regarding guidelines relevant to all courses at FIU, as well as additional information about acceptable netiquette for online courses.

    Late Papers

Late papers will not be accepted. Students are responsible for reading their blackboard messages and all announcements posted by the instructor. The instructor also reserves the right to make changes to the syllabus by means of announcements or messages with ample time allowed for students to respond and adjust appropriately. 



Plagiarism will not be tolerated. Plagiarism, or attempting to pass off another's work as your own, falls into three different categories:

    • A written work that is entirely stolen from another source;
    • Using quotations from another source without properly citing them; and
    • Paraphrasing from another source without proper citations.

    Students are expected to understand the definition of plagiarism. See the University Code of Academic Integrity if you need further clarification. Offenders will receive a grade of F for the plagiarized assignment, and possibly the course.

    **Students may not submit work from a previous semester or from another class for this assignment or any other assignment in this course. It will be flagged for plagiarism by Turnitin.

    Quiz resets

    • Resetting quizzes after they have passed will require a serious and verifiable reason (death in the family, hospitalization, serious accident, etc.).

The correct answers for quizzes will not be released to students. Students will be able to see their submitted answers only. Students should refer to their course materials for the correct answers.

    Technical Requirements & Skills

    One of the greatest barriers to taking an online course is a lack of basic computer literacy. By computer literacy we mean being able to manage and organize computer files efficiently, and learning to use your computer's operating system and software quickly and easily. Keep in mind that this is not a computer literacy course; but students enrolled in online courses are expected to have moderate proficiency using a computer. Please go to the "What's Required" webpage to find out more information on this subject.

    Please visit our Technical Requirements webpage for additional information.

    Accessibility And Accommodation

    The Disability Resource Center collaborates with students, faculty, staff, and community members to create diverse learning environments that are usable, equitable, inclusive and sustainable. The DRC provides FIU students with disabilities the necessary support to successfully complete their education and participate in activities available to all students. If you have a diagnosed disability and plan to utilize academic accommodations, please contact the Center at 305-348-3532 or visit them at the Graham Center GC 190.

    Please visit our ADA Compliance webpage for information about accessibility involving the tools used in this course.

    Please visit Blackboard's Commitment Accessibility webpage for more information. 

    For additional assistance please contact FIU's Disability Resource Center.

    Course Prerequisites

    There are no prerequisites for this course.

    Academic Misconduct Statement

    Florida International University is a community dedicated to generating and imparting knowledge through excellent teaching and research, the rigorous and respectful exchange of ideas and community service. All students should respect the right of others to have an equitable opportunity to learn and honestly to demonstrate the quality of their learning. Therefore, all students are expected to adhere to a standard of academic conduct, which demonstrates respect for themselves, their fellow students, and the educational mission of the University. All students are deemed by the University to understand that if they are found responsible for academic misconduct, they will be subject to the Academic Misconduct procedures and sanctions, as outlined in the Student Handbook.

    Academic Misconduct includes: Cheating – The unauthorized use of books, notes, aids, electronic sources; or assistance from another person with respect to examinations, course assignments, field service reports, class recitations; or the unauthorized possession of examination papers or course materials, whether originally authorized or not. Plagiarism – The use and appropriation of another’s work without any indication of the source and the representation of such work as the student’s own. Any student who fails to give credit for ideas, expressions or materials taken from another source, including internet sources, is responsible for plagiarism.

    Learn more about the academic integrity policies and procedures as well as student resources that can help you prepare for a successful semester.


    Textbook Image
    Anatomy of the Sacred: An Introduction to Religion
    James C. Livingston
    Prentice Hall, 6th Edition, 2008
    ISBN-10: 013600380X
    ISBN-13: 9780136003809
    You may purchase your textbook online at the FIU Bookstore.

    Expectations Of This Course

    This is an online course, which means most (if not all) of the course work will be conducted online. Expectations for performance in an online course are the same for a traditional course. In fact, online courses require a degree of self-motivation, self-discipline, and technology skills which can make these courses more demanding for some students.

    Students are expected to:

    • Review the how to get started information located in the course content
    • Introduce yourself to the class during the first week by posting a self introduction in the appropriate discussion forum
    • Take the practice quiz to ensure that your computer is compatible with Blackboard
    •  Interact online with instructor and peers
    •  Review and follow the course calendar

    Course Detail

    Course Communication

    Communication in this course will take place via Messages

    Messages is a private and secure text-based communication system which occurs within a course among its Course members. Users must log on to Blackboard to send, receive, or read messages. The Messages tool is located on the Course Menu, on the left side of the course webpage. It is recommended that students check their messages routinely to ensure up-to-date communication. 

    Visit our Writing Resources webpage for more information on professional writing and technical communication skills.


    Each week, beginning with the second week of class, there will be discussion questions posted for you to respond to. These discussions are meant to stimulate critical thinking about how religions manifest in our globalized world. The responses in the discussions should be well thought out and written in standard American English (that is to say, use correct spelling and proper punctuation and capitalization). You may use links to news articles or other media sites to strengthen your positions on particular issues.

    In addition to posting your own answers to the weekly discussion topics, you should respond to the postings from your fellow classmates and/or the instructor. Each week that you participate, you should respond to at least two of your classmates’ posts. In other words, you should have at least three substantial posts in total for each discussion topic. At the end of the course, your discussion thread will be graded based on the quantity and the quality of what you have written.

    In responding to others, it is important to be courteous and respectful. If you disagree with something that has been said, that is fine. But be sure to explain why and where appropriate support your own view with evidence. Also, it is fine to ask questions that are related to our topic to extend the discussion. But please make sure the questions are relevant. Please remember that this is an academic forum.

    Discussion topics will be open from Monday to Sunday of each week that a discussion topic is posted. See the course calendar for the weeks that have discussion topics posted.

    Keep in mind that your discussion forum postings will likely be seen by other members of the course. Care should be taken when determining what to post.



    A time-restricted, online quiz will be given on each week's religious concept. You can take each quiz twice, and the highest of the two attempts will be recorded. Even if you do well on the first attempt, it is advisable to use both attempts. There is a large database of quiz questions so many of the questions in your second attempt will be new to you since the computer randomly chooses the questions.

    For the quizzes, you will have 20 minutes to complete 10 questions. Each quiz will be open for one week, from Monday to Monday until midnight, and you can take it on any of those days at any time.

    In order to mitigate any issues with your computer and online assessments, it is very important that you take the "Practice Quiz" from each computer you will be using to take your graded quizzes and exams. It is your responsibility to make sure your computer meets the minimum hardware requirements. 

Assessments in this course are not compatible with mobile devices and should not be taken through a mobile phone or a tablet. If you need further assistance please contact FIU Online Support Services.

    Note: Quiz resets will not be granted for technical issues. You will receive two attempts to complete each quiz, if you are logged offline or you have technical failure while attempting the quiz, then you still have the second attempt to complete the quiz.

 Resetting quizzes after they have passed will require a serious and verifiable reason (death in the family, hospitalization, serious accident, etc.).

 The correct answers for quizzes will not be released to students. Students will be able to see their submitted answers only. Students should refer to their course materials for the correct answers.


    There will be two non-cumulative exams based on the readings and materials covered throughout the course. Each exam will be worth 15% of your final grade. All exams consist of multiple choice, fill-in-the-blanks, true/false, and short essay questions. Exams must be taken during the availability period unless arrangements are made with the professor BEFORE the due date. Once you open an exam, you will have 60 minutes to complete and submit it. You will only have one chance at each exam. 



    • All Essays, ‘Research Paper 1 -Site Visit (Draft & Final Copy)’ and ‘Globalization Essay’ and ‘Written Exam 1’ and ‘Written Exam 2’, will be checked for plagiarism using via a link in Blackboard. It is not necessary to create a separate Turnitin account. Review the detailed Turnitin Instructions on how to submit your assignments and how to review the Grademark comments (feedback) from your professor.
    • DRAFT: Your first submission will be a draft version of the site visit (30 points of assignment total). This section does not need to include all of the supplementary research you will do on the religion you chose to explore. The draft should include your experience at the actual site and be approximately 600-750 words.
    • FINAL COPY: The final copy of the Site Visit should include a works cited page that DOES NOT include Wikipedia (or any other encyclopedic web sites), all of the research you completed as related to all rituals, symbols, and theology as well as the information from the actual site visit. The final copy should be 1800-2000 words.


    • READ: “Religion and Globalization: New Possibilities, Furthering Challenges” by Daniel Golebiewski
    • WATCH:  “Listening to Global Voices” Ethan Zuckerman
    • WRITE: Essay Prompt - Golebiewski writes about the interaction between globalization and religion in contemporary society.  He points out there have been mixed results and various groups have been impacted in different ways.  Write an essay where you explore the relationship between globalization and religion, looking at specific responses both positive and negative. Does globalization present more positive or negative outcomes in your opinion? What is the greatest challenge for traditional world religions today? What is the greatest opportunity for positive growth? Support your ideas with specific examples.  What are your predictions for the future? 
    • Guidelines:
      • Format: MLA Format Required
      • Length: 1000 Words, Not Including Your Works Cited Page
      • Double –Spaced, 12-Pt Font, Arial Or Times New Roman Font
      • Sources: Attached Article And Other Resources
    • **Students May Not Submit Work From A Previous Semester Or From Another Class For This Assignment Or Any Other Assignment In This Course. It Will Be Flagged For Plagiarism By Turnitin. 


    Course Requirements Number of Items Points for Each Weight

    Introduce Yourself Video Blog

    1 10 2%


    13 10 18%
    Quizzes 13 100 15%

    Research Paper 1 - Site Visit

    • Rough Draft - 30 points
    • Final Draft - 70 points
    2 100 20%
    Globalization Paper 1 100 15%
    Midterm Exam (Subjective & Objective) 1 100 15%
    Final Exam (Subjective & Objective) 1 100 15%
    Total 32 N/A 100%
    Letter Range (%) Letter Range (%) Letter Range (%)
    A 93 or above B 83 - 86 C 70 - 76
    A- 90 - 92 B- 80 - 82 D 60 - 69
    B+ 87 - 89 C+ 77 - 79 F 59 or less

    Course Calendar

    Weekly Schedule

    • Research Paper 1 - Site Visit Final Draft: due Monday, March 20 by 11:59pm

    Note: This course runs on a Monday to Monday schedule. Assignments assigned are made available on Monday and due the following Monday.

    Date Topic and Readings Tasks
    Lesson 1
    January 9 - 16

    Topic: What is Religion?

    • Chapter 1, p. 1 - 14
    • Introduce Yourself video blog: due Monday, January 16 by 11:59pm
    • Quiz 1: due Monday, January 16 by 11:59pm
    Lesson 2
    January 16 - 23


    Topic: Ways of Studying Religion

    • Chapter 2, p. 15 - 34
    • PowerPoint: Dr. Northup - What is Religion? How is it studied?
    • Quiz 2: due Monday, January 23 by 11:59pm
    • Blog 2: due Monday, January 23 by 11:59pm
    Lesson 3
    January 23 - 30

    Topic: The Sacred and the Holy

    • Chapter 3, p. 35 - 52
    • PowerPoint: Dr. Huchingson - The Sacred and the Holy
    • Axis Mundt Podcast
    • Quiz 3: due Monday, January 30 by 11:59pm
    • Blog 3: due Monday, January 30 by 11:59pm
    Lesson 4
    January 30 - February 6

    Topic: Sacred, Symbol, Myth and Doctrine

    • Chapter 4, p. 53 - 73
    • PowerPoint: Dr. Northup - Sacred Symbol, Myth, and Doctrine
    • Sacred Symbols PDF
    • Quiz 4: due Monday, February 6 by 11:59pm
    • Blog 4: due Monday, February 6 by 11:59pm
    Lesson 5
    February 6 - 13

    Topic: Sacred Ritual

    • Chapter 5, p. 74 - 95
    • PowerPoint: Dr. Northup - Sacred Ritual
    • Quiz 5: due Monday, February 13 by 11:59pm
    • Blog 5: due Monday, February 13 by 11:59pm
    • Visit religious site as the Site Visit Draft paper is due in two weeks.
    Lesson 6
    February 13 - 20

    Topic: Scared Scripture

    • Chapter 6, p. 96 - 123
    • PowerPoint: Dr. Larson - Sacred Scripture
    • Quiz 6: due Monday, February 20 by 11:59pm
    • Blog 6: due Monday, February 20 by 11:59pm
    Lesson 7
    February 20 - 27

    Topic: Society and the Sacred: The Social Formations and Transformations of Religion

    • Chapter 7, p. 124 - 150
    • PowerPoint: Dr. Wuaku - Society and the Sacred: The Social Formations and Transformations of Religion
    • Quiz 7: due Monday, February 27 by 11:59pm
    • Blog 7: due Monday, February 27 by 11:59pm
    • Research Paper 1 - Site Visit Draft: due Monday, February 27 by 11:59pm
    Midterm Week
    February 27 - March 6

    Midterm Exam Week

    • Midterm Exam: available Monday, February 27 at 12:00am - Monday, March 6 until 11:59pm
    • Work on finalizing Research Paper 1, due in two weeks.
    Lesson 8
    March 6 - 13

    Topic: Deity: Concepts of the Divine and Ultimate Reality

    • Chapter 8, p. 151 - 182
    • PowerPoint: Dr. Huchingson- Deity - Concepts of the Divine and Ultimate Reality.
    • Perspectives on Death: Crash Course Philosophy #17
    • Quiz 8: due Monday, March 13 by 11:59pm
    • Blog 8: due Monday, March 13 by 11:59pm
    Lesson 9
    March 13 - 20

    Spring Break

    Topic: Cosmogony: Origins of the Natural and Social Order

    • Chapter 9, p. 183 - 210
    • PowerPoint: Rabbi Shulkes - Cosmogony: Origins of the Natural and Social Order
    • Quiz 9: due Monday, March 20 by 11:59pm
    • Blog 9: due Monday, March 20 by 11:59pm
    • Research Paper 1 - Site Visit Final Draft: due Monday, March 20 by 11:59pm
    Lesson 10
    March 20 - 27

    Topic: Views of the Human Problem

    • Chapter 10, p. 211-234
    • PowerPoint: Dr. Wuaku - Anthropology: The Human Problem
    • Quiz 10: due Monday, March 27 by 11:59pm
    • Blog 10: due Monday, March 27 by 11:59pm
    • Research Paper 1 - Site Visit Final Draft: due Monday, March 27 by 1159pm
    Lesson 11
    March 27 - April 3

    Topic: Theodicy: Encountering Evil

    • Chapter 11, p. 235-258

    • PowerPoint: Dr. Gudorf - Theodicy: Encountering Evil

    • Quiz 11: due Monday, April 3 by 11:59pm
    • Blog 11: due Monday, April 3 by 11:59pm
    Lesson 12
    April 3 - 10

    Topic: Ethics: Foundations of Moral Action

    • Chapter 12, p. 259 - 286
    • PowerPoint: Dr. Gudorf - Ethics: Patterns of Moral Action
    • Quiz 12: due Monday, April 10 by 11:59pm
    • Blog 12: due Monday, April 10 by 11:59pm
    Lesson 13
    April 10 - 17

    Topic: Soteriology: Ways and Goals of Salvation and Liberation

    • Chapter 13, p. 287- 338
    • PowerPoint: Dr. Huchingson - Soteriology: Ways and Goals of Salvation and Liberation
    • Blog 13: due Monday, April 17 by 11:59pm
    • Globalization Paper: due Monday, April 17 by 11:59pm
    Lesson 14
    April 17 - 24

    Topic: Secularization—New Religious Revitalization Movements—Contemporary Religious Fundamentalism

    • Chapter 14 - 15, p. 339 - 398
    • PowerPoint: Dr. Bidegain - The Sacred and the Secular in Modernity.
    • Quiz 13 (covers Lessons 13 and 14): due Monday, April 24 by 11:59pm
    • Blog 14: due Monday, April 24 by 11:59pm
    Finals Week
    April 24 - 29
    Final Exam
    • Global Learning Quiz: available Monday, April 24 at 12:00am - Saturday, April 29 until 11:59pm
    • Final Exam: available Monday, April 24 at 12:00am - Saturday, April 29 until 11:59pm