Students are required to write brief (300-500 words, or 1-2 pgs.) essays expressing their response to a body of lectures covering each religious tradition studied in the course.
Each essay must be written on a specific topic derived from the Conceptual Toolkit. The Toolkit lists the following seven topical categories: (1) Ultimate Reality, (2) Human Nature, (3) Evil, (4) Sainthood and Mysticism, (5) Rituals, (6) Sacred Time, and (7) Authority. Two of these topics will have been used for the Discussions (see above). Students may choose one of the remaining five topical categories as the theme and focus of their essays.
Essays should NOT contain the following: (1) summaries of material from the textbook or (2) summaries of the lecture content, without any analysis.
Essays must include direct, explicit reference to material covered during in-class lectures to receive more than 50 % credit for the assignment. Any ideas, topics, or issues introduced in an essay must be shown to derive from lecture contents. This means that students have to cite all relevant lectures. For example:
“I found the Buddhist doctrine of ‘no-self’ both very interesting, and somewhat problematic (Buddhism Lecture 1). When coupled with the concept of ‘emptiness’ (Buddhism Lecture 4), the idea made more sense to me . . .”
Essays must conform to the grammatical and stylistic standards of the English language, must be “on point,” and must reflect a mature, careful consideration of the material. Students will be assigned a numeric grade of 0, 5, or 10 depending on the degree to which these requirements are fulfilled.
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