World Religions - Faculty/Staff WebSites

Instructor: L. D. Russell
Office: Alamance 318-D, Office Hours: MWF 2:30-3:30 p.m.
Email:, CB# 2301, Phone: 278-5243
If God’s in his heaven and all’s right with the world, then why is that so many millions
of his children suffer horribly the gut-wrenching pangs of hunger due to widespread
poverty? As citizens of the richest nation on Earth, we bear the responsibility not only
to ask this most important of questions but also to offer thoughtful answers that take us
beyond mere words into the realm of action. What are the causes of poverty, not only
in faraway lands but also here in America? Is this just the way of the world, the luck of
the draw, or are there things we as a nation and as individuals do to help make and
keep these people poor and hungry while we enjoy “the land of plenty”? What, if
anything, can we do to even the global playing field, lessen our waste and share our
If you think none of this applies to you, then you are in the right place. Open your
mind, drop your defenses, and buckle your seatbelt for a harrowing journey to see and
feel “how the other half lives.” For a moment or two, let yourself ask, “What if
everything I’ve learned in my life is wrong?” Let go of your parents’ opinions, put
away your high school diploma, and step into a brave new world. In short, the purpose
of this course is twofold: 1) to help you understand that, like it or not, you are a global
citizen with social, economic, and political responsibilities; and 2) to better equip you to
meet those responsibilities. No, we’re not here to steal your joy – if anything, you will
leave this class with a deeper sense of what you learned (or should have) in
kindergarten: each of us is happier when we share and share alike.
The texts we will be using are Robert M. Jackson’s Global Issues, John C. Ryan and Alain
Thein Durning’s Stuff: The Secret Lives of Everyday Things, Tracy Kidder’s Mountains
Beyond Mountains, Keven Bales’ Disposable People and Elon’s webpage Understanding the
Global Experience ( Videos about
world poverty and hunger will be shown in class. The regular reading assignments
constitute a crucial part of the course, so for many assignments you will turn in a typed,
one-page reaction paper, as an opportunity to express what you think, ask questions,
and as a springboard for class discussion. Late reaction papers will receive only half
credit. An essential part of your educational experience in the course will be to choose
and attend five cultural events from Elon’s cultural calendar ( and to submit on each event a one-page reaction paper
within one week of the date of the event. You will also turn in a class project based on
further research and do a class presentation. The midterm and final exam will cover all
materials, including lectures, discussions, films, and readings. Because the classroom is
the crucible in which we learn, this course has a zero tolerance absence policy.
20% = Attendance and class participation
20% = Reaction papers
30% = Term project
30% = Class presentation
Our class will will seek to achieve six main goals:
1. the importance of individual responsibility.
2. the relationship of humans to the natural world.
3. globalization and tribalization as powerful global forces.
4. the impact of imperialism and colonialism.
5. the nature of culture.
6. the plights of disempowered groups.
These goals will help us understand our connection to the world we inhabit, our
responsibilities to this world, and the rights we possess as inhabitants. Filtering
everything we read, write, and discuss through these themes will help us to ground the
objectives in our world, to see their impact on the world we are inhabiting.
 Effective writing and speaking skills
 Complex quantitative reasoning skills
 Information literacy skills
 The capacity to view issues from other cultural perspectives
 The ability to communicate effectively with people from other nations and
 An understanding of their interconnectedness with other people and the
environment, as well as their responsibility to both
 A mature understanding of how knowledge is constructed through academic
inquiry within and across disciplines
 The intellectual curiosity essential to life-long learning
 Ethical decision-making skills to promote the common good
 A vital and integrated sense of self: mind, body and spirit
All sections of The Global Experience address a significant number of these themes each
semester; however, it is up to the individual faculty member to decide which themes
will receive priority through readings and assignments in any given class section.
The importance of individual responsibility;
The relationship of humans to the natural world;
Globalization and tribalization as powerful world forces;
The impact of imperialism and colonialism;
The nature of culture;
6) The plights of disempowered groups.
Once you accepted your invitation to Elon University, you agreed to meet the high
standards we value in the academic world. This means you will demonstrate personal
honesty and respect the rights of others. You must take responsibility for all your
actions, and submit work that you know to be your own. When using the ideas of
others, you will demonstrate this using forms developed for this use.
I will use Blackboard and email to distribute some assignments, projects, readings, and
Internet links. You should check both every day.