These are some of the things you will need to do if this course is to be a meaningful one for you:
FirstClass is the classroom software we will be using for this course, so students will need to download this software and learn how to navigate around in it. Click here to download the software. A tutorial is available on your FirstClass desktop once you download the software. Tech support folks at Embanet can also help. (email@example.com, or (416) 446-5943)
A few words on your main teachers this quarter
- Plato, The Euthyphro (any edition will do; it's also available online, with full text, at either a fairly uncluttered site or at a site rich in background and explanations
- W. K. Clifford, The Ethics of Belief
- Huston Smith, The World's Religions (assigned chapters)
- William James, The Will to Believe
- William James, Varieties of Religious Experience (assigned lectures)
- Rudolph Otto, The Idea of the Holy (everything up to p. 94, +...)
- Edwin Abbott, Flatland (available online available soon at the NSCC bookstore, or from libraries or other bookstores; Dover has an edition for $1.50 here)
- Huston Smith, Forgotten Truth (assigned chapters)
- Evelyn Underhill, Mysticism (assigned chapters)
(a special note about reading)
- Take notes constantly, on the material presented (lectures, films, tapes, etc), on your readings, and on your own reflections
- Participate in classroom dialogues about the writings, lectures, and the discussion questions.
- All assigned texts will have study questions that you will need to answer in writing
- You may find it valuable to begin (or continue) a personal journal of your own inner life in relation to the matters we will be discussing. I expect that the questions we will be looking at in here may be existential ones for you, and not just academic
- A research project will be assigned
- Later in the quarter you will be writing a personal Credo: "I believe...."
It is expected that you will regularly and actively participate in the class discussions on a daily or almost daily basis. Online participation may require 2-3 hours of participation per day for at least five days out of the week. Reading and writing assignments will be in addition to that.
It is expected that everyone will read everything posted to the classroom folders, including all discussion messages from fellow students.
Coursework will probably require a minimum of 20+ hours per week, and perhaps more.
Most students who fail, or do not complete, online courses do so because they do not form the habit early on of logging in to the class every day. If you miss more than a day or two you can get behind in the course and it then becomes very difficult to catch up.
The American philosopher William James has a beautiful and famous chapter "On Habit," and how the formation of useful habits can work for our benefit, in his book, Principles of Psychology. He also has a nice essay on the power of habit in a book titled Talks for Teachers. (These are not assigned readings, but you may well find them meaningful.
We will have an online mid-term exam and an online final exam, each exam covering approximately half of the course. The exams will be primarily essay exams and will require that you understand and be conversant with both the factual and the conceptual material that we've covered. Make-ups on exams will not be allowed (except in special circumstances and only if you make arrangements with me before the exam is given)
(Here is a copy of the final exam that all students will be required to pass before being granted their AA degree.)
You will be doing a research project, to be posted to the class, on a religion, a religious topic, or a religious writer. So hunt around and discover a religion, or topic, or author that you think might be of interest to you, research that topic or author, and then write out what you have learned about that subject so you can post it to the class. The paper can be as short as you like, even one page if you can cover your material in that time, but the maximum length you can have is no more than five pages. Let yourself get creative and find something or someone that sounds like it could really capture your interest. Your idea then needs to be OK'd by me, so propose the idea to me soon so I can say yea or nay.
You need to get it OK'd before the end of week four (or earlier) and then it needs to be delivered before the end of week eight.
After it is gotten a preliminary approval, send me an email with 1) your name, (2) your topic, (3) some of the books you'll use, and (4) the date you would like to post it, so I can make a note of your topic on my class schedule.
When it's done, you will need to do a self-evaluation of your research project. See the guidelines for doing your project self evaluation.
Here are some more details about how to plan your research project, get it OKed, etc.
To be described in detail later. But for now: you will need to find one day during the quarter that you can be alone somewhere; a whole day, 24 hours. Check here for an overview of the pilgrimage assignment.
In the interests of exercising your mind to remember worthwhile things, you will be required to commit to memory one quotation of your choosing from each book we read, and then to recite it aloud, from memory, to some other actual living human in your life. The passage must be memorized and recited aloud by the date the book is due to be finished (usually Wednesday evening at 6pm).
Grading will be based entirely on your work and achievement in the course (i.e., you will not be graded on the state of your soul, or whether you are compassionate, or whether you are a genuine seeker, etc. Those things are for Another Grader.) Click here for a general outline of this class' grading policy. A large part of the information I will be using to assign your course grade will be in a self-evaluation which you will complete. You are asked, then, to compile a complete self-evaluation of your work in this course, following these self-evaluation guidelines.
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