REL 1110 Laura Ammon - General Education Program

Shared Learning Outcomes Plan Worksheet for General Education Courses
Department: Philosophy & Religion
Course Number and Title: REL 1101 Religions of the World
Name of Faculty Member: Laura Ammon
List the Shared General Education Learning
Outcomes you and your colleagues have
agreed upon for all sections of the course
Indicate Study (S),
Demonstrate (D)
or both*
Describe the types of class activities in which students will study
and/or demonstrate the outcome in your sections of the course
Students will be able to nurture the ability to
think critically about their religio-cultural
tradition (Goal 1: Thinking Critically and
[S] and [D]
Students will be able to nurture the ability to
think critically about other’s religio-cultural
traditions (Goal 1: Thinking Critically and
Creatively & Goal 3: Making Local to Global
[S] and [D]
I divide my classes into two sets of class room work. One day each
week is a lecture and the second day is a general
conversation/discussion of the reading and/or video assigned for
that week. These discussions, generally set by the response to the
reading that I provide related to a given lecture, demonstrate the
ways that students are integrating what they study into their
worldview (or at least thinking about their tradition for a new way
for a little while). For Christianity (as for all traditions, actually, but
since this is their inherited tradition if not the one they practice it
becomes more delicate) we examine variants of Christianity that are
dominant outside the US. Through videos and readings students are
introduced to orthodox Christianity from Syria and Greece as well as
Coptic Christianity from Egypt. We then put these forms of
Christianity in dialog with the western traditions of Roman
Catholicism and US Protestantism, covered also by readings, videos,
and primary sources.
Starting with readings for Hinduism, we explore the various
components of belief outside the Western traditions. Here I hope that
students will see that as dear as their traditions are to them, as
fraught with conflict and different interpretations and division as
Protestant Christianity can be, so are other traditions. We start with
Hinduism and an exploration of the Ramayana. In addition to reading
a selection from the Ramayana, we read a western scholarly article on
the role of Sita in the narrative as well as view the film Sita Sings the
Blues. These three different avenues give students a chance to think
about and explore different forms of constructing religious meaning
Students will be able to nurture the ability to
recognize various means for interpreting
critically cultural constructions of meaning
(Goal 1: Thinking Critically and Creatively)
[S] and [D]
Students will be able to nurture the ability to
communicate effectively and meaningfully
with peoples hailing from disparate religiocultural communities (Goal 2:
Communicating Effectively & Goal 3: Making
Local to Global Connections)
[S] and [D]
Students will be able to nurture the ability to
generate empathy for the religio-cultural
other (Goal 4: Understanding
Responsibilities of Community Membership)
[S] and [D]
and interpreting that meaning academically. We also cover
similarities and differences between Thich Nhat Hahn and the Dalai
Lama’s forms of Buddhism through readings and video statements
from both of them. I ask students to write comparatively about these
differences on their exams as well as in a project assignment.
I begin the semester with Russell McCutcheon’s article What is the
Academic Study of Religion? In this piece, McCutcheon sets out a
distinction between religious education (i.e. what happens in church)
and education about religion which is the foundation of the academic
study of religion in the US. His distinction is then one that we come
back to in writing and discussions during the semester, continuing to
clarify and develop our own sense of the ways that religious meaning
is interpreted by practitioners and by academics.
I focus on talking about other traditions in a ‘value-free’ fashion.
Particularly in class conversations about different religions, I ask
students to rephrase when they use terms like ‘weird’ and ‘silly.’ I
realize they are trying to wrestle with the meaning of those
traditions, to recognize what is different and sometimes to misrecognize what is similar. I encourage them to think about what is
motivating their question and reaction and to think about how a
person practicing that religion might respond. This becomes
particularly poignant with Judaism, where our students at App are
confused by Judaism’s’ rejection of Jesus as a fulfillment of prophecies
found in the Hebrew Bible and appropriated by Christianity. I use
some role play in the classroom to get to students to imagine how a
Jewish practitioner might answer their questions. This often helps in
reframing questions and thoughts about other traditions. I ask
students on exams and in their project, to describe and explain a
belief or practice from the ‘inside’ — they are required to describe a
belief and practice as it might appear to a practitioner as opposed to
how it appears to an outsider. This is especially useful with Islam and
with women’s issues in various traditions. Writing and discussion
topics are designed to cultivate students’ sense of empathy and
imagination about the ways others live their lives
I keep my classroom as interactive as possible, attempting to meet
students where they are with regard to different religious
worldviews. Our class discussions revolve around key beliefs,
practices, and ideas about the major religions we study and
understanding them in relationship to our own understandings of the
world. In this manner, we assess similarities between their view of
the world and world views outside of their own.
* For each outcome, indicate whether students in your sections of the course will:
o Study (S) it in lectures, readings, discussions, or activities
o Demonstrate (D) their achievement of it in course assignments, exams, or projects
o Both study (S) and demonstrate (D) it
Form prepared by P. Marty 3/8/12