BCC Humanities 40, Spring 2014 Online, Class Code 22348

Instructor: Eric Gerlach

Email:  ericgerlach@gmail.com

Office Hours: 12:30 – 1:20 pm at K’s Coffee, next door to BCC

This course is conducted online through the BCC Moodle site for Spring 2014:


If you have problems logging in, you should email the Moodle student help desk at:


Course Description: This course introduces students to the study of the world’s major religious traditions.  We will focus on primary sources (the sacred texts of each tradition), emphasizing a comparative approach and human wisdom.

Required Assignments and Grading: Each week, students must: (A) read the lecture posted online, (B) read the readings posted online, and (C) contribute a short but substantive paragraph to the online discussion.  Students are to use the online discussion to demonstrate that they have done and understand the readings and also to ask questions.  The discussion will be monitored and questions answered by the instructor twice a week on Mondays and Wednesdays.  Please be patient with your questions and fellow students, as the discussion is not monitored 24 hours a day.  Final grades are determined by: participation in discussion (30%), midterm exam (35%), final exam (35%).

Class Schedule: The dates listed are the Monday at the beginning of each week.  Readings and assignments are to be completed by midnight of the following Sunday.

Jan 21:  Introduction to World Religions

Jan 27:  Tribal Shamans

Feb 3:  City Priests: Sumer, Mesopotamia, and Egypt

Feb 10:  Confucianism

Feb 18:  Daoism

Feb 24:  Hinduism

Mar 3:  Indian Buddhism

Mar 10:  East Asian Buddhism: Chan / Zen

Mar 24: Zoroastrianism

Mar 31: Judaism

Apr 7: Early Christianity


Apr 21: Islam

Apr 28: Protestant Christianity

May 5: New Religious Movements

Essay Grading Policy:  For response essays, write at least three pages, stick to your own thinking and provide a clear and focused argument, earning 2 points per page (one point off for every half page less than 3 pages), 2 points for sticking to your thinking, as opposed to summarizing the material, and 2 points for clarity and focus, for 10 points total.

Late assignments will only be excused in cases of well-documented emergencies; in addition, students must have evidence that substantial progress has been made on the assignment before the emergency took place. Otherwise, late assignments will be downgraded a letter grade for each week they are late. If a student has any extenuating circumstances which may affect full participation in the class, the student must speak to the instructor as far ahead of any due date as possible. All assignments must be completed and all requirements must be met in order to pass the class. You must turn in all assignments (even if they are late) in order to be eligible to receive a “C” grade or higher.  There are no exceptions, under any circumstance.

Plagiarism—“[t]o use another person’s ideas or expressions in your writing without acknowledging the source” (MLA Handbook,  5th ed., §1.8)—will not be tolerated. Plagiarists, intentional or inadvertent, will receive a zero on the assignment in question; repeat offenders will get an F for the course and will be subject to college disciplinary action. Students are encouraged to review plagiarism policies in the current Vista College catalog.

Disabled Student Program and Services (DSP&S) are provided for any enrolled student who has a verified disability that creates an educational limitation that prevents the student from fully benefiting from classes without additional support services or instruction. Please let the instructor know if you require any support services or would like more information about DSP&S.

The syllabus is subject to change at the discretion of the instructor. Any changes will be announced in class. Additional handouts of required readings may also be added.

1) Shamanism

2) Early City State Priests

3) Confucianism

4) Daoism

5) Hinduism


6) Jainism & Indian Buddhism

7) East Asian Buddhism & Zen

8) Zoroastrianism

9) Judaism

10) Christianity

11) Islam

12) Protestantism

13) New Religious Movements