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Death and Dying Syllabus 006 Fall 2017

Death and Dying 006
Instructor: Michael Cohen
Email: [email protected]
Office: 638 Anderson Hall
Office Hours: TR 2:00-3:00, W 12:00 1:00, or by appointment
Fall 2017
TR 3:30- 4:50
Anderson 207
Course Description
This course will provide an introduction to the academic study of death and dying.
In the first half of this semester, we will explore how adherents of different religious
traditions understand, come to terms with, and ritually handle death. In the second
half of the semester, we will study contemporary issues concerning death and dying,
consulting numerous sources to gain a wider perspective on a number of difficult
issues that we face both as individuals and as a society.
Course Goals
o To become familiar with the wide variety of religious attitudes, practices, and
conceptions regarding death and dying.
o To become familiar with the many contemporary issues involving death and
dying that we face as a society today.
o To explore specific ideas in religious traditions and be able to critically
examine them and place them within a larger context, understanding how
they fit within a religious tradition as a whole.
o To be able to discuss difficult subjects regarding death and dying with others
in a respectful, thoughtful, and academically critical manner.
o To be able to engage academic arguments in a critical way, both in writing
and in discussion with others.
Required Texts
Please acquire a copy of our primary textbook, which is available in the Temple
bookstore or online:
Bregman, Lucy, ed. Death and Dying in World Religions (DDWR). Dubuque, IA:
Kendall Hunt Publishing Company, 2009.
The other readings required for this course will be available through Blackboard.
Electronics in the classroom
Students are permitted to use laptops in order to take notes or access the readings
in class. Cell phone use is not permitted during class.
Course Grading
Attendance and Participation 15% (150 Points)
 Students are permitted three unexcused absences before their
attendance grade is reduced. After the third unexcused absence,
every unexcused absence thereafter will result in 10 points off of the
attendance and participation grade automatically. So, for example, if a
student has 6 unexcused absences throughout the semester, the
highest grade they could receive for their attendance and
participation grade would be a 120/150.
 If you are more than 20 minutes late to class it will count as an
unexcused absence.
 For an absence to be excused, students must have a doctor’s note,
some form of documentation explaining their absence, or have gotten
permission from the instructor in advance. Religious holidays also
count for excused absences, but the instructor must be notified in
 Asking and answering questions in class, participating in smaller
group work, and comments and questions to the instructor through
email or during office hours all count as participation.
Reading Quizzes 15% (150 Points)
 Reading quizzes will be given on Thursdays and will cover the reading
assignments for that week.
Death and Dying in World Religions Group Project 15% (150 Points) – October 3rd
 This project will require students to work in groups to research death
and dying in a religious tradition that we have not covered in class
and present their findings to the class. The project will also include an
individual assignment from each student in the form of a paper
(approximately 3 pages). The requirements for this project will be
discussed in class and posted on Blackboard.
Midterm 15% (150 Points) – October 12th
 The midterm will cover material from the readings and class from the
first half of the semester.
Taking Sides Paper 10% (100 Points) – November 2nd
 Paper will be approximately 2-3 pages. This paper will ask the author
to read and critically examine articles that present two opposing
arguments on an issue related to death and dying. The requirements
for this paper will be discussed in class and posted on Blackboard.
Site Visit Paper 15% (150 Points) – November 30th
 Paper will be approximately 4-5 pages. This paper will require
students to visit locations that deal with death and dying and reflect
on their observations and apply what we have been discussing in
class. The requirements for this paper will be discussed in class and
posted on Blackboard.
Final 15% (150 Points) – December 7th
 The final will cover material from the readings and class from the
second half of the semester.
There are 1000 possible points for this course. The percentage of points that you
get will be converted to the standard grading system below, rounding up. So, if you
receive 825 points out of 1000, your grade would be 82.5 for the semester and
rounded up to an 83, resulting in a B for the semester. Additionally, there will be a
few extra credit opportunities announced throughout the semester.
Letter grade distribution for semester grade:
A = 93 – 100
B = 83 – 86
C = 73 – 76
A- = 90 – 92
B- = 80 – 82
C- = 70 – 72
B+ = 87 – 89
C+ = 77 – 79
D+ = 67 – 69
D = 63 – 66
D- = 60 – 62
F = 59 and lower
A Cautionary Note: If you do not think that you can handle this type of material in
an academic setting, please reconsider your participation. If you find troublesome
issues arising during the course of the semester, I recommend seeking assistance
through the University’s Tuttleman Counseling Center
Disability Statement: “This course is open to all students who meet the academic
requirements for participation. Any student who has a need for accommodation
based on the impact of a disability should contact the instructor privately to discuss
the specific situation as soon as possible. Contact Disability Resources at 215-2041280 in Ritter Annex to coordinate reasonable accommodations for students with
disabilities” (taken from http://policies.temple.edu/getdoc.asp?policy_no=02.78.13
on 5/16/2008).
Academic Freedom: “Freedom to teach and freedom to learn are inseparable facets
of academic freedom. The University has a policy on Student and Faculty and
Academic Rights and Responsibilities (Policy #03.70.02) which can be accessed
through the following link:
Academic Honesty: Temple University believes strongly in academic honesty and
integrity. Plagiarism and academic cheating are, therefore, prohibited. Essential to
intellectual growth is the development of independent thought and a respect for the
thoughts of others. The prohibition against plagiarism and cheating is intended to
foster this independence and respect.
Plagiarism is the unacknowledged use of another person’s labor, another person’s
ideas, another person’s words, another person’s assistance. Normally, all work done for
courses – papers, examinations, homework exercises, laboratory reports, oral
presentations – is expected to be the individual effort of the student presenting the
work. Any assistance must be reported to the instructor. If the work has entailed
consulting other resources – journals, books, or other media – these resources must be
cited in a manner appropriate to the course. It is the instructor’s responsibility to
indicate the appropriate manner of citation. Everything used from other sources –
suggestions for organization of ideas, ideas themselves, or actual language – must be
cited. Failure to cite borrowed material constitutes plagiarism. Undocumented use of
materials from the World Wide Web is plagiarism.
Academic cheating is, generally, the thwarting or breaking of the general rules of
academic work or the specific rules of the individual courses. It includes falsifying
data; submitting, without the instructor’s approval, work in one course which was
done for another; helping others to plagiarize or cheat from one’s own or another’s
work; or actually doing the work of another person.
All quizzes, exams, and papers for this class should be done individually. I reserve
the right to refer any cases of suspected plagiarism or cheating to the University
Disciplinary Committee; I also reserve the right to assign a grade of “F” for semester.
Policy on Religious Holidays: If you will be observing any religious holidays this
semester which will prevent you from attending a regularly scheduled class or
interfere with fulfilling any course requirement, your instructor will offer you an
opportunity to make up the class or course requirement if you make arrangements
by informing your instructor of the dates of your religious holidays within two
weeks of the beginning of the semester (or three days before any holidays which
fall within the first two weeks of class).
Week 1- Introduction
August 29
Syllabus and Introductions
August 31
Talking About Death
Due: Bring in/present an object, song, piece of music, art, poetry, family heirloom,
etc., that helps you discuss and understand death. Please write one (1) paragraph
describing why you chose this item / how it helps you. OR Write your own obituary.
Week 2- Death and Dying in World Religions
September 5
Death and Dying in Ancient Mesopotamia
Reading: DDWR Chapter 1
September 7
Death and Dying in Judaism
Reading: DDWR Chapter 3
Week 2 Reading Quiz
Week 3- Death and Dying in World Religions
September 12
Death and Dying in Christianity
Reading: DDWR Chapters 4 & 5
September 14
Death and Dying in Islam
Reading: DDWR Chapter 6
Week 3 Reading Quiz
Week 4- Death and Dying in World Religions
September 19
Death and Dying in Hinduism
Reading: DDWR Chapter 7
September 21
Death and Dying in Buddhism
Reading: DDWR Chapter 8
Week 4 Reading Quiz
Week 5- Death and Dying in World Religions
September 26
Death and Dying in African Religions
Reading: DDWR Chapter 11
September 28
Death and the Other
Week 6 – Death and Dying in World Religions: Group Projects
October 3
Group Presentations
October 5
Group Presentations
Week 7- Review and Midterm
October 10
October 12
Week 8 – Elisabeth Kubler-Ross and Five Stages of Grief
October 17
Elisabeth Kubler-Ross and Five Stages of Grief
Viewing: Tuesdays with Morrie
Reading: Elisabeth Kubler-Ross (on BB)
October 19
Elisabeth Kubler-Ross and Five Stages of Grief
Viewing: Tuesdays with Morrie
Week 9- Death and Dying in the United States
October 24
American Funeral Industry
DUE: Look up information on the American Funeral Industry. How much does it cost
to have a funeral? What are the options for disposal available to the deceased and
their relatives? How much will it cost to have a funeral that you would want, for
yourself, a loved one? What are some trends that you see in how bodies are
disposed of?
Reading: Laderman “The Business of Death in the Late Nineteenth Century”(on BB)
October 26
Death in the Media and Celebrity Deaths
Reading: Durkin, “Death, Dying and the Dead in Popular Culture” (on BB)
Week 9 Reading Quiz
Week 10 – Death and Dying in Law and Medicine
October 31
Physician Assisted Suicide
Reading: Taking Sides “Issue Is Physician Assisted Suicide Wrong?” (on BB)
November 2
Death Penalty and Abortion
Reading: Either “Issue 12” or “Issue 4” from Taking Sides (on BB)
Due: Taking Sides Assignment
Week 11 –
November 7
Viewing: The Bridge
Reading: DeSpelder and Strickland “Suicides” (on BB)
November 9
Week 11 Reading Quiz
Week 12 –
November 14
Death and the Absurd
Reading: Albert Camus, “The Myth of Sisyphus” (on BB)
November 16
Genocide, Death, and the Problem of Evil
Reading: Terrence de Pres, “Excremental Assault” (on BB)
Week 12 Reading Quiz
Week 13- No class
Week 14- Near Death Experiences and Site Visits
November 28
Near Death Experiences
November 30
Site Visit Class Discussion and Special Topic
Due: Site Visit Reports
Week 15- Conclusion
December 5
Death Café
December 7
Final Exam