I. Course Prefix/Number: PHL 205
Course Name: World Religions
Credits: 3 (3 lecture; 0 lab)
III. Course (Catalog) Description
IV. Learning Objectives
A. Identify the basic philosophies of several different religions.
B. 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.
C. 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.
D. Appraise the tremendous impact that religions have had on the cultural, social and political institutions across the globe.
E. Analyze both orally and through written work how religious traditions and ideas grow out of and change with specific historical contexts.
F. Develop their critical thinking skills in relation to their ability to evaluate problems and compare alternative solutions offered by different religions.
G. 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
• 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
VI. Sequence of Topics
A. What is religion?
B. What is philosophical inquiry?
II. Native American religions
III. Original African religions
IV. Pre-Christian European religions
A. Founding worldviews in Vedas and Upanishads
B. The social impact of the classical “caste” system
C. Development of Devotional Hinduism through the Epics and Puranas
D. Mahatma Gandhi
E. “Hindu India?” Relations with other traditions in the contemporary world
A. Life of the Buddha
B. Early Buddhism: the Theravada Tradition
C. The Mahayana and Vajrayana Traditions
D. The expansion of Buddhism to East Asia
E. The Dalai Lama
F. Buddhism and its transformations in contemporary Asia
A. Early Chinese society: ritual and government
B. The Confucian establishment
A. Laozi and the Dao De Jing
B. Against ritual: nature as our guide
A. Japan: nature, myths and devotion in Shinto
B. The role of Shinto in the traditional and modern Japanese state
X. Jainism: The philosophy and practice of non-violence
XI. Zoroastrianism: From ancient myths to the philosophy of ethical dualism
XII. Sikhism: From a religion of reconciliation to preservation
A. Hebrew beginnings
B. Covenant: the religious role of history; Exiles and restorations of Biblical narrative
C. The Rabbinic Age: “Listening” to the Torah
D. The Middle Ages: Judaism in the Islamic and European worlds
E. Modern travails and transformations
A. Origins of a messianic Judaism: The life of Jesus
B. Sin and Paul’s revision of the Covenant
C. Christianity: from persecution to Christendom
D. Catholicism, Orthodoxy, Protestantism
E. Modern Christianity
A. The consummation of the Prophets: Muhammad’s life and teachings
B. Expansion and civilization: the successes of the Caliphates
C. Religions law and theology
D. Sunni, Shi’a, Sufi
E. Islam in the contemporary world
VII. Methods of Instruction
B. Small group work
D. Field trips to religious services
E. Guest speakers
Course may be taught as face-to-face, hybrid or online course.
VIII. Course Practices Required
B. Standards for written work
F. Final Project
G. Special policies about make-up exams, late papers, or other matters of concern
IX. Instructional Materials
Text: VARIES BY INSTRUCTOR
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
A. Quizzes/Exams……40 points
B. Journal/Essays……40 points
C. Final Project with oral presentation……10 points
D. Attendance and participation……10 points
E. Grading scale: 90-100, A……80-89, B……70-79, C……60-69, D
XI. Other Course Information
• Office and office hours:
• 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
Resources and support for LGBTQ+ students can be found at www.oakton.edu/lgbtq.