Introduction to the Worlds Major Religions - 1st year

Provides an historical introduction of the world’s major religions: Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, Judaism, Christianity and Islam. It is designed to create a basic understanding of the fundamental characteristics of these religions, and an appreciation of their cultural influence throughout history.


By the end of this course, students will be able to:

1. Describe the essential characteristics, which distinguish the major religious traditions of humankind in terms of their origins, historical developments, and world-views;

2. Demonstrate knowledge of the basic components of each major religious tradition, such as its concept of the divine, moral code, value system, rituals, and artistic expression;

3. Explain some of the ways that each major religious tradition has contributed to the specific historical and cultural milieu of which it is a part;

4. Demonstrate an awareness of the religious conflicts and trends of the modern world;

5. Demonstrate an understanding of the religions common in their native country and host country.


The course will cover the religions originating in India (Hinduism, Buddhism), the religions originating in China and Japan (Confucianism, Taoism, and Native Chinese religion), and the religions originating in the Middle East (Judaism, Christianity and Islam).

Method of Instruction:

1. Lecture

2. Class discussions

3. Small-group work

4. Student presentations

5. Use of library for research projects

6. Use of audio-visual media resources

Types of Assignments:

1. Chapter-length reading assignments in required textbooks and selected supplemental readers.

2. Note taking fro reading and lecture materials

3. Essays and/or reports

4. Library research

Sample Text:

1. Religions of the World (8th ed.). Lewis Hopfe and Mark Woodward (Prentice Hall, 2001).

2. The Religious World: Communities of Faith (3rd ed.). Richard Bush, Ed. (Prentice Hall, 1993)