World Religions

I.     Course Prefix/Number: PHL 205

       Course Name: World Religions

       Credits: 3 (3 lecture; 0 lab)

II.    Prerequisite

None

III.   Course (Catalog) Description

Course uses global perspective to introduce philosophies, traditions, and histories of major world religions. Topics include at least six of the following religions: Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Jainism, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Confucianism, Daoism, and Shinto, the indigenous religions of North America, Africa, or pre-Christian Europe.  IAI H5 904N

IV.   Learning Objectives

After completing this class, students will be able to do the following:

  1. Identify the basic philosophies of several different religions.
  2. Recognize the ethical implications of different systems of religious thought and how these different religions might address ethical issues on both the personal and global level.
  3. Demonstrate respect for all religions and the cultures of which they are a part by identifying and critiquing stereotypes associated with the major religious traditions of the world.
  4. Appraise the tremendous impact that religions have had on the cultural, social and political institutions across the globe.
  5. Analyze both orally and through written work how religious traditions and ideas grow out of and change with specific historical contexts.
  6. Develop their critical thinking skills in relation to their ability to evaluate problems and compare alternative solutions offered by different religions.
  7. Exhibit values related to teamwork and collaboration, fostered by the pedagogy of shared-inquiry and critical dialogue appropriate to the humanities and philosophy.

V.    Academic Integrity and Student Conduct

Students and employees at Oakton Community College are required to demonstrate academic integrity and follow Oakton's Code of Academic Conduct. This code prohibits:

• cheating,
• plagiarism (turning in work not written by you, or lacking proper citation),
• falsification and fabrication (lying or distorting the truth),
• helping others to cheat,
• unauthorized changes on official documents,
• pretending to be someone else or having someone else pretend to be you,
• making or accepting bribes, special favors, or threats, and
• any other behavior that violates academic integrity.

There are serious consequences to violations of the academic integrity policy. Oakton's policies and procedures provide students a fair hearing if a complaint is made against you. If you are found to have violated the policy, the minimum penalty is failure on the assignment and, a disciplinary record will be established and kept on file in the office of the Vice President for Student Affairs for a period of 3 years.

Please review the Code of Academic Conduct and the Code of Student Conduct, both located online at
www.oakton.edu/studentlife/student-handbook.pdf

VI.   Sequence of Topics

(This is a sample outline of topics.  In your outline of topics please specify the dates on which you will cover specific topics and other important dates such as exams and paper deadlines.)

  1. Introduction
    1. What is religion?
    2. What is philosophical inquiry?
  2. Native American religions
  3. Original African religions
  4. Pre-Christian European religions
  5. Hinduism
    1. Founding worldviews in Vedas and Upanishads
    2. The social impact of the classical “caste” system
    3. Development of Devotional Hinduism through the Epics and Puranas
    4. Mahatma Gandhi
    5. “Hindu India?” Relations with other traditions in the contemporary world
  6.  Buddhism
    1. Life of the Buddha
    2. Early Buddhism: the Theravada Tradition
    3. The Mahayana and Vajrayana Traditions
    4. The expansion of Buddhism to East Asia
    5. The Dalai Lama
    6. Buddhism and its transformations in contemporary Asia
  7. Confucianism
    1. Early Chinese society: ritual and government
    2. The Confucian establishment
  8. Daoism
    1. Laozi and the Dao De Jing
    2. Against ritual: nature as our guide
  9. Shintoism
    1. Japan:  nature, myths and devotion in Shinto
    2. The role of Shinto in the traditional and modern Japanese state
  10. Jainism: The philosophy and practice of non-violence
  11. Zoroastrianism: From ancient myths to the philosophy of ethical dualism
  12. Sikhism:  From a religion of reconciliation to preservation
  13. Judaism
    1. Hebrew beginnings
    2. Covenant: the religious role of history; Exiles and restorations of Biblical narrative
    3. The Rabbinic Age: “Listening” to the Torah
    4. The Middle Ages: Judaism in the Islamic and European worlds
    5. Modern travails and transformations
  14.   Christianity
    1. Origins of a messianic Judaism: The life of Jesus
    2. Sin and Paul’s revision of the Covenant
    3. Christianity: from persecution to Christendom
    4. Catholicism, Orthodoxy, Protestantism
    5. Modern Christianity
  15.  Islam
    1. The consummation of the Prophets: Muhammad’s life and teachings
    2. Expansion and civilization: the successes of the Caliphates
    3. Religions law and theology
    4. Sunni, Shi’a, Sufi
    5. Islam in the contemporary world
  16. Conclusion

VII.  Methods of Instruction

  1. Lectures and discussion
  2. Small group work
  3. Films
  4. Field trips to religious services
  5. Guest speakers

Course may be taught as face-to-face, hybrid or online course.

VIII. Course Practices Required

(Please include information here about all expectations you have for your students regarding behavior, work, etc. The following are sample components you may wish to include. Please be aware that you must require students in this course to produce at least 15 pages of critical written assignments over the course of the semester. These may be assigned in a variety of ways including journals, response papers, field trip projects, etc.)

  1. Essays
  2. Standards for written work
  3. Quizzes/Exams
  4. Attendance
  5. Participation
  6. Final Project
  7. Special policies about make-up exams, late papers, or other matters of concern

IX.   Instructional Materials

Note: Current textbook information for each course and section is available on Oakton's Schedule of Classes.

A text such as Living Religions by Mary Pat Fisher, The Sacred Paths by Theodore Ludwig or World Religions by Warren Matthews might be used.

Primary sources (e.g. selections from the Upanishads, the Dhammapada, the Torah, the Qur’an, and/or the Bible) might also be used.

X.    Methods of Evaluating Student Progress

(In this section, please present the percentages or point breakdown of their final grade. The writing assignments should count for at least 40% of the final grade. An example follows.)

  1. Quizzes/Exams……40 points
  2. Journal/Essays……40 points
  3. Final Project with oral presentation……10 points
  4. Attendance and participation……10 points
  5. Grading scale: 90-100, A……80-89, B……70-79, C……60-69, D

XI.   Other Course Information

Instructor information
  • Office and office hours:
  • Phone
  • Email and website:


If you have a documented learning, psychological, or physical disability you may be entitled to reasonable academic accommodations or services. To request accommodations or services, contact the Access and Disability Resource Center at the Des Plaines or Skokie campus. All students are expected to fulfill essential course requirements. The College will not waive any essential skill or requirement of a course or degree program.

Oakton Community College is committed to maintaining a campus environment emphasizing the dignity and worth of all members of the community, and complies with all federal and state Title IX requirements.

Resources and support for
  • pregnancy-related and parenting accommodations; and
  • victims of sexual misconduct
can be found at www.oakton.edu/title9/.

Resources and support for LGBTQ+ students can be found at www.oakton.edu/lgbtq.