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Essential Objectives

Course Syllabus

Revision Date: 14-Jul-24

Fall 2024 | PHI-2010-VT01 - Comparative Religion

In Person Class

Standard courses meet in person at CCV centers, typically once each week for the duration of the semester.

Location: Brattleboro
Credits: 3 (45 hours)
Day/Times: Thursday, 06:00P - 09:00P
Semester Dates: 09-05-2024 to 12-12-2024
Last day to drop without a grade: 09-16-2024 - Refund Policy
Last day to withdraw (W grade): 11-04-2024 - Refund Policy
Open Seats: 14 (as of 07-21-24 3:05 PM)
To check live space availability, Search for Courses.


Scott Couper
View Faculty Credentials
View Faculty Statement
Hiring Coordinator for this course: Collin Lee

General Education Requirements

This section meets the following CCV General Education Requirement(s) for the current catalog year:
VSCS Humanistic Perspectives
  1. Many degree programs have specific general education recommendations. In order to avoid taking unnecessary classes, please consult with additional resources like your program evaluation, your academic program catalog year page, and your academic advisor.
  2. Courses may only be used to meet one General Education Requirement.

Course Description

Introduces and compares such major religions as Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, and Taoism. Students study mythical, ethical, and cultic aspects of these religions through reading and discussion of both sacred writings and literature of religious commentary.

Essential Objectives

1. Trace the history and mythological origins of the world's major religions.
2. Interpret the stories, myths, and scriptures associated with the world’s religions.
3. Compare the beliefs, ethical teachings, and rituals of selected religions.
4. Examine the role religion plays in individual lives and in the global community.
5. Analyze the ways in which the world’s religions connect and conflict through their histories, beliefs, and practices.

Required Technology

More information on general computer and internet recommendations is available on the CCV IT Support page. https://support.ccv.edu/general/computer-recommendations/

Please see CCV's Digital Equity Statement (pg. 45) to learn more about CCV's commitment to supporting all students access the technology they need to successfully finish their courses.

Required Textbooks and Resources

*** This is a low cost ($50 or less) textbook or resource class. ***

This course uses one or more textbooks/books/simulations, along with free Open Educational Resources (OER) and/or library materials.

Fall 2024 textbook/book details will be available on 2024-05-20. On that date a link will be available below that will take you to eCampus, CCV's bookstore. The information provided there will be specific to this class. Please see this page for more information regarding the purchase of textbooks/books.

PHI-2010-VT01 Link to Textbooks for this course in eCampus.

For Open Educational Resources (OER) and/or library materials details, see the Canvas Site for this class.

The last day to use a Financial Aid Advance to purchase textbooks/books is the 3rd Tuesday of the semester. See your financial aid counselor at your academic center if you have any questions.

Artificial Intelligence(AI) Policy Statement

CCV recognizes that artificial intelligence (AI) and generative AI tools are widely available and becoming embedded in many online writing and creative applications.

Prohibited: The use of generative AI is not allowed in this course, with the exception of spellcheck, grammar check and similar tools. This course rests in the value of students engaging in the learning process without relying on AI-generated content. Students will develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills independently, owning their learning journey from start to finish. If you use these tools, your actions would be considered academically dishonest and a violation of CCV's Academic Integrity Policy.

All of your written assignments are reactions to the readings, therefore the reactions are to be yours. Your reactions ought to be based on your personal experiences, thoughts, and feelings about the various faith communities about which you are learning. Therefore, you are not to plagiarize using AI.


This course's structure includes lectures, weekly readings, regular discussion and participation in small-group activities that demonstrate active engagement with the course subject matter, weekly written assignments, an evaluation, and independent research (see below).

This syllabus is subject to slight amendment, especially in the Weekly Schedule, as two weeks before the class I will likely insert audio-visuals and activities into the subject sections (as one should not lecture nor listen to a lecture for almost three hours, even with a break).

Weekly Lectures: Lectures will focus on key concepts and theory based on the two texts assigned for the course.

Weekly Readings: Each week, about thirty (30) pages from the two texts will be assigned.

Discussion: Because this is a course that engenders 'comparisons', participation in discussion is very important. Everyone has a different comfort level when speaking in a group or in public, so remember only a small percentage of communication includes what we actually verbalize. Exhibiting interest, engagement, enthusiasm, agreement or disagreement can all be done without words.

Evaluation: A midterm evaluation will be administered halfway through the semester. It will be an open-book essay that covers the material thus far.

Written assignments/Typed responses: Each week, you will submit a typed response to the reading. It should be between one to two (1 to 2) pages in length. By 'typed response,' I don't mean a summary; no regurgitation; I have already read the reading assignment. I would like you to speak 'to' the reading. I will assume that you have read it and I will assume that you understand it. I do not need you to verify that you have read and understand the reading. Instead, I would like you to respond to the author as if you were having a conversation with him/her/they. What is your reaction? Focus on the three or four most important takeaways from the reading. What kinds of connections did you make between what he/she/they said and what you understand based on life experience and general knowledge. What insights or new understandings did the reading trigger? I strongly encourage you to write in your books - reactions, insights, connections, questions, even prompts to 'stories' of your experience. Your notes will provide you the seeds for your written response - they will almost write your assignment for you.

Final Project (Independent Research): We will, almost without external motivation, learn and excel at that in which we are passionate. Peruse the resources for this class as well as on-line resources until you find a topic that touches that special nerve inside, that is, where you wish to 'drill down'. I encourage you to cross-pollinate modules. When choosing your subject matter, it is perferable to be specific so as to not get lost in an unlimited sea of information. Chose a genre (music, literature, dance, art, ritual, or dress) of a faith tradition (Islam, Jewish, Hindu) and research its history, aesthetics, modern relevance, prevelance of practice, and diversity of practice. You will prepare an oral presentation on your findings. This presentation will conform to the CCV Oral Communication Rubric. This will include a slide presentation (PowerPoint, Prezzi, or similar platform) on your findings of roughly ten (10) slides and approximately fifteen (15) minutes in duration.

Evaluation Criteria

Typed responses - 30%

Participation in discussion - 20%

Midterm examination - 25%

Formal presentation that demonstrates proficiency using the CCV Oral Communication Rubric - 25%

Grading Criteria

CCV Letter Grades as outlined in the Evaluation System Policy are assigned according to the following chart:

A Less than 9893
A-Less than 9390
B+Less than 9088
B Less than 8883
B-Less than 8380
C+Less than 8078
C Less than 7873
C-Less than 7370
D+Less than 7068
D Less than 6863
D-Less than 6360
FLess than 60 
NPLess than 600

Weekly Schedule

Week/ModuleTopic  Readings  Assignments


September 5 - Welcome and overview of the class


"Point of Departure", 1-11, in Hudson Smith's The World's Religions: The Revised and Updated Edition of the Religions of Man (HarperOne: New York, 2021) and "Introduction", 6-13 in Michael Coogan's, ed.,World Religions (Metro Books: New York, 2012)





September 12 - Hinduism I


Read chapter 2, "Hinduism", in Smith's The World's Religions,12-40

Read chapter 4, "Hinduism", in Coogan's World Religions, 124-137


Written response to Smith reading



September 19 - Hinduism II

Guest lecturer, Dylan Rhys Abudeye


Read chapter 2, "Hinduism", in Smith's The World's Religions, 40-81

Read chapter 4, "Hinduism", in Coogan's World Religions, 138-161


Written response to Coogan reading



September 26 - Buddhism (Zen)

Guest lecturer, The Reverend Hakusho Johan Ostlund, Zen Buddhist priest


Read chapter 6, "Buddhism", in Coogan's World Religions, 162-197


Written response to Coogan reading



October 3 - Chinese (Confucianism and Taoism) and Japanese faith traditions (Shinto)


Read chapter 6, "Chinese Traditions", in Coogan's

World Religions, 198-235

Read chapter 5, "Taoism", in Smith's

The World's Religions, 196-220


Written response to Smith reading



October 10 - Judaism I


Read chapter X, "Judaism", in Smith's The World's Religions, 271-316


Written response to Smith reading



October 17 - Judaism II

Mid-term evaluation, discuss final projects

Guest lecturer: Rabbi Amita Jarmon, Brattleboro Area Jewish Community


Read chapter 1, "Judaism", in Coogan's

World Religions, 14-51.


Mid-term evaluation



October 24 - Review Mid-term examination and Christianity I


Read chapter 2, "Christianity", in Coogan's

World Religions, 52-87


Written response to Coogan reading



October 31 - Conduct independent research




Choose a final topic and submit a preliminary final topic thesis with an accompanying annotated bibliography demonstrating how you will use the sources for your project.



November 7 - Christianity II

Guest lecturer, The Reverend Dr. Lise Sparrow, PhD, ret., United Church of Christ


Read chapter 8, "Christianity", in Smith's The World's Religions, 317-364


Written response to Smith reading



November 14 - Islam I

Guest Lecturer: Dr. Amer Latif, Emerson College, PhD


Read chapter 3, "Islam", in Coogan's World Religions, 88-123


Written response to Coogan reading



November 21 - Islam II


Read chapter 6, "Islam", in Smith's The World's Religions, 221-270


Written response to Smith reading



December 5 - African spirituality, Native American and Meso-American spirituality, and Wicca (paganism)


Read chapter 9, "The Primal Religions", in Smith's The World's Religions, 365-383


Written response to Smith reading



December 12 - Final projects due


In-class presentations


Attendance Policy

Regular attendance and participation in classes are essential for success in and are completion requirements for courses at CCV. A student's failure to meet attendance requirements as specified in course descriptions will normally result in a non-satisfactory grade.

  • In general, missing more than 20% of a course due to absences, lateness or early departures may jeopardize a student's ability to earn a satisfactory final grade.
  • Attending an on-ground or synchronous course means a student appeared in the live classroom for at least a meaningful portion of a given class meeting. Attending an online course means a student posted a discussion forum response, completed a quiz or attempted some other academically required activity. Simply viewing a course item or module does not count as attendance.
  • Meeting the minimum attendance requirement for a course does not mean a student has satisfied the academic requirements for participation, which require students to go above and beyond simply attending a portion of the class. Faculty members will individually determine what constitutes participation in each course they teach and explain in their course descriptions how participation factors into a student's final grade.

Missing & Late Work Policy

Class attendance: We are all required to be on-time to each class. Being late is distracting and signals disrespect (whether you intend it or not). If you are late three (3) times that will equal an unexcused absence and subsequent grade reduction. Multiple absences can result in you being dropped from the class.

Students who know that they will not have course access for any given week should make arrangements with me to complete assignments and participation requirements prior to the absence.

You are responsible for checking Canvas and getting any notes, materials, and assignments for the class you missed. Please reach out and ask questions if anything is unclear.

Late work: Assignments are due by the deadline noted on the syllabus, even when you need to be absent. Your work can be emailed or dropped-off at the front desk.

Written assignments that are turned-in after the due date will be considered for partial credit (-5% per day), but will not be accepted beyond one week after the published deadline.

Extensions will be granted only in extenuating circumstances. If a lengthy medical problem or other emergent personal issue will result in missing weekly discussions and/or assignments, please contact me for advice.

Experiential Learning Expectations

Hours: 1-5

Attend a worship service at the Brattleboro Area Jewish Community, Zen Buddhist, Insight Buddhist, Kirtan Mantra, Islamic prayer, or Christian worship service at the Centre Congregational Church or any other faith community the tri-state area (MA, VT, NH).

Accessibility Services for Students with Disabilities:

CCV strives to mitigate barriers to course access for students with documented disabilities. To request accommodations, please
  1. Provide disability documentation to the Accessibility Coordinator at your academic center. https://ccv.edu/discover-resources/students-with-disabilities/
  2. Request an appointment to meet with accessibility coordinator to discuss your request and create an accommodation plan.
  3. Once created, students will share the accommodation plan with faculty. Please note, faculty cannot make disability accommodations outside of this process.

Academic Integrity

CCV has a commitment to honesty and excellence in academic work and expects the same from all students. Academic dishonesty, or cheating, can occur whenever you present -as your own work- something that you did not do. You can also be guilty of cheating if you help someone else cheat. Being unaware of what constitutes academic dishonesty (such as knowing what plagiarism is) does not absolve a student of the responsibility to be honest in his/her academic work. Academic dishonesty is taken very seriously and may lead to dismissal from the College.