World Religions and Cultures

Course Details

Course Number
Section Number
Fall 2015
Classroom Number
internet course
Days & Times

not applicable; internet course

Dr. Sharon L. Arnoult (view Profile)

Course Attachments


World Religions Today. Fifth edition
The Worlds Wisdom

Course Objectives

The goal of this course is to provide you with an overview of the major religious traditions of the world, framed in a historical context. It is an introductory course; no prior knowledge is assumed.

Course Expectations

There are two exams and a paper required in this course. Having two exams in a course is standard for upper-division college-level history courses, including the traditional classroom sections taught at Midwestern State.  A college graduate will be expected (by future employers) to handle large amounts of information, and so this course develops that skill by having students learn and synthesize several chapters for each exam.  Moreover, these same employers will expect a college graduate to be able to apply critical reasoning to written material and communicate their analysis through clear, correct writing, skills that will the paper will develop.

Grading Standards

Each exam will count for 40% of your final grade and will consist of 50 multiple choice questions worth two points each.  Each exam will cover the material assigned for that exam period, including the textbook and the Essays on the web site.  Each test is self contained. The "final" will not be comprehensive. Grading is done on a standard 100-point scale (i.e., 100-90=A, 89-80=B, etc.)

PAPER:   The goal of this paper is for students to utilize the primary sources in the reader, The World’s Wisdom, in order to critically analyze these sources in relation to specific questions.  The reader has eight chapters, and each chapter has a sampling of texts from a particular religious tradition.  For this paper, you are to select two chapters and compose a paper in which you compare and contrast the religious worldviews expressed in these writings.  In this comparison, the questions you should consider are:  How does this religion seem to conceive of the divine?  How does it understand the relationship between a human being and the divine?  What appear to be its moral, ethical and spiritual imperatives?  How does it handle what your textbook calls the “three Ms:” mortality, morality, and meaning. What are the similarities and differences between the two traditions (chapters) you have selected?  You should also consider a question that was posed in your textbook’s introduction: Do differences in religious language (or, in this case, expression) reflect experiences of different realities? Or are they different expressions of or ways of describing the same reality?

Although you must address the above questions, in writing this paper you must use the essay form, not “Q & A.”  You should back up your assertions by references to the reader, providing evidence for your statements. Use page numbers for your citations.  You must use the texts in the reader ONLY and not any other source.

Papers will be graded using TrackChanges, and returned to you.  Your grade on this paper will be 20% of your final grade in the course.








Submission Format Policy

Paper:  This paper must be at least seven pages long, double-spaced, and in a font no larger than 12. It must be written in Word, but NOT Word 7 or the version of Word that accompanies Vista.  If you have one of these versions of Word, please save your work in an earlier version before submitting it.  You will submit your paper as an attachment to an email sent to the instructor via WebCT.  Attachments that cannot be opened because they are not in the correct format constitute an unacceptable paper submission – in other words, you will not be given credit for having submitted the paper!

Exams: All exams will be taken through Blackboard/WebCT. You can find the exams under “Exams” on the home page or under “Assessments” on the left. Each exam will be available for a period of time during which you may log on and take the exam. (See the course schedule below for the dates.) You may not log on before or after the specified time. Once you log on you have 50 minutes (1 minute per question) to take the exam. If you go over the allotted time, two points will be deducted from the exam grade for each minute that you go over the allotted time.

Therefore, please note: You should not log on to the exam until you are ready to take it!

Also, please note the following policy about technical difficulties during exams: It is the student’s responsibility to have reliable computer, browser and internet access capability in order to successfully complete exams within the allotted time.  Consideration will NOT be given for technical problems on the student’s end during exams.  Please be certain that your computer, browser, and internet access provider are adequate and RELIABLE before taking an exam in this course

Note: You may not submit a paper for a grade in this class that already has been (or will be) submitted for a grade in another course, unless you obtain the explicit written permission of me and the other instructor involved in advance.

Late Paper Policy

  Late papers will be penalized 5 points off for every day past the deadline, and no paper will be accepted one week after the due date.

Exams must be completed by the established deadlines.  Make-ups will only be given to students who can present documentation of a major emergency or technical problem which prevented them from taking the exam during the scheduled window.  Incompletes will only be given to students who can present documentation of a major emergency, occurring after the last date to drop, which prevented them from completing the course within the specified time.

Plagiarism Policy

Plagiarism is the use of someone else's thoughts, words, ideas, or lines of argument in your own work without appropriate documentation (a parenthetical citation at the end and a listing in "Works Cited")-whether you use that material in a quote, paraphrase, or summary. It is a theft of intellectual property and will not be tolerated, whether intentional or not.

Student Honor Creed

As an MSU Student, I pledge not to lie, cheat, steal, or help anyone else do so."

As students at MSU, we recognize that any great society must be composed of empowered, responsible citizens. We also recognize universities play an important role in helping mold these responsible citizens. We believe students themselves play an important part in developing responsible citizenship by maintaining a community where integrity and honorable character are the norm, not the exception.

Thus, We, the Students of Midwestern State University, resolve to uphold the honor of the University by affirming our commitment to complete academic honesty. We resolve not only to be honest but also to hold our peers accountable for complete honesty in all university matters.

We consider it dishonest to ask for, give, or receive help in examinations or quizzes, to use any unauthorized material in examinations, or to present, as one's own, work or ideas which are not entirely one's own. We recognize that any instructor has the right to expect that all student work is honest, original work. We accept and acknowledge that responsibility for lying, cheating, stealing, plagiarism, and other forms of academic dishonesty fundamentally rests within each individual student.

We expect of ourselves academic integrity, personal professionalism, and ethical character. We appreciate steps taken by University officials to protect the honor of the University against any who would disgrace the MSU student body by violating the spirit of this creed.

Written and adopted by the 2002-2003 MSU Student Senate.

Students with Disabilities

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal anti-discrimination statute that provides comprehensive civil rights protection for persons with disabilities. Among other things, this legislation requires that all students with disabilities be guaranteed a learning environment that provides for reasonable accommodation of their disabilities. If you believe you have a disability requiring an accommodation, please contact the Disability Support Services in Room 168 of the Clark Student Center, (940) 397-4140.

Safe Zones Statement

The professor considers this classroom to be a place where you will be treated with respect as a human being - regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, political beliefs, age, or ability. Additionally, diversity of thought is appreciated and encouraged, provided you can agree to disagree. It is the professor's expectation that ALL students consider the classroom a safe environment.

Contacting your Instructor

All instructors in the Department have voicemail in their offices and MWSU e-mail addresses. Make sure you add your instructor's phone number and e-mail address to both email and cell phone lists of contacts.

Attendance Requirements

Instructor Drops: Students must maintain adequate progress in this course in order to continue to be enrolled in it.  Failure to do so means that a student may, at the instructor’s discretion, be dropped from the course.

Other Policies

There is no provision for extra credit!!!


This course will be conducted entirely over the internet. It is the student's responsibility to make certain that he or she has reliable and adequate computer access and capability for the course. This includes the computer itself, the browser being used, and the internet service provider (ISP).  If you have not already, please go through the "Browser Check" tutorial on the WebCT log-in page, in order to avoid problems later. Also, if your computer or ISP has a tendency to freeze up or lose connection, DO NOT USE THEM TO TAKE AN EXAM, but find a more reliable system.  Students will not get consideration for technical problems during exams if those problems are on the student’s end. However, if you feel the problem occurred at MSU’s end, with WebCT itself, you can report it to Tech Support and IF Tech Support verifies there was a problem at MSU’s end, then consideration may be given.  However, this consideration will ONLY be given for technical problems at MSU’s end verified by Tech Support, NOT for any problems arising from the student’s own system.

Writing Proficiency Requirement

All students seeking a Bachelor's degree from Midwestern State University must satisfy a writing proficiency requirement once they've 1) passed the 6 hours of Communication Core and and 2) earned 60 hours. You may meet this requirement by passing either the Writing Proficiency Exam or English 2113. Please keep in mind that, once you've earned over 90 hours, you lose the opportunity to take the $25 exam and have no option but to enroll in the three-credit hour course. If you have any questions about the exam, visit the Writing Proficiency Office website at, or call 397-4131.

Campus Carry

Senate Bill 11 passed by the 84th Texas Legislature allows licensed handgun holders to carry concealed handguns on campus, effective August 1, 2016. Areas excluded from concealed carry are appropriately marked, in accordance with state law. For more information regarding campus carry, please refer to the University’s webpage at

If you have questions or concerns, please contact MSU Chief of Police Patrick Coggins at