Spring Semester, 2006
Coordinator: Dr. Jim Dalton

Office: Clare Center 203
Office Hours: Wednesday 8:30-11:30 and by appointment
Phone: 783-4235

E-mail: dalton (


RELG 280 is “premised on the definition of globalization as the growth of relations among people across national borders.” (Globalization Studies Program Statement) “Globalization” has emerged as a significant factor in the development of religious traditions since early modern times, if not before.  This course will introduce students to the study of religious experience in a global context and focus on religious traditions other than Christianity and Judaism. Students will examine them through their evolution within their particular cultures and through their interactions with other religious traditions and cultures. Attention will be paid to their expressions in religious thought (mythic and systematic), action (ethical and ritual), community and religious imagination (the arts). Emphasis will be placed on the living and dynamic nature of these traditions in the past and their expressions in the global world in which we live.

Goals of the Course

   This course has five primary objectives:

1.      An appreciation of the breadth and range of religious experience.

2.      An awareness of the assumptions that individuals and groups bring to the study of religious experience.

3.      An appreciation of the diversity within and among religious communities.

4.      An appreciation of how religious traditions interact with their own cultures and histories and how they interact with each other.

5.      An understanding of how religious traditions have developed in the context of “globalization” since early modern times.

Students should gain from this class:

1.      An introduction to selected major world religious traditions, in particular to their conceptions of human meaning, social life and the natural world.

2.      An increased understanding of important global issues and the challenges they pose to the common human future.

3.      Sensitivity to intercultural and ethnic relations in the United States as a context for engagement with global issues.


-- Esposito, John L., Darrell J. Fasching and Todd Lewis. World Religions Today. NY: Oxford University Press, 2006.

-- Juergensmeyer, Mark (ed.) Global Religions: An Introduction. NY: Oxford University Press, 2003.


A. All students will be required to have computer accounts and will be expected to be able to utilize electronic mail and word processing. We will also be utilizing the World Wide Web (WWW) during the course of the semester for learning and research. The Web will be discussed and used both inside and outside of classes.

B. At the beginning of each class period there will be a brief test on the reading for which students are responsible for that period. The Mid-semester exam is scheduled for Tuesday, March 7 for the last half of the class period.

C. During the course of the semester students will be divided into groups and will prepare a report and final class presentation on a religious tradition other than Christianity during one of the final two classes of the semester. Sub-traditions of Native cultures, Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam and East Asian religions are acceptable but the group will be expected to go beyond the information contained in the Esposito textbook. Individual students will be expected to report on their contribution to the group in a separate final written report that will be due at the time of their presentation.

D. Students will be required to attend classes on a regular basis. If the student is unable to attend, he or she will still be responsible for what occurs during that class period. As a general guideline, any more than two absences will be considered excessive. Further absences could effect the student's final grade.

E. The professor presupposed that every student will do his or her own work according to accepted academic standards. Any student who copies someone else's work or is any other way guilty of cheating or plagiarism will be subject to the penalties outlined in the Siena College Catalog's statement on Academic Integrity. At a minimum, the student will receive a grade of "F" for the course.

Quiz and Test Make Up Policy


The grade for one class quiz will be dropped (the lowest grade). I will offer make up quizzes or tests under the following conditions:



1.   A documented family emergency situation that I agree is compelling such as a death in the immediate family.


2.   An absence where you are representing Siena College in an official capacity. Documentation is required and I must be notified in advance.


3.   Significant illness or injury. Documentation is required.


4.   Severe weather conditions. I must agree.


5.   Circumstances (described to me in advance) that I agree are compelling.



I. My touchstone grade is a "C". This grade is awarded for performance which is expected of all students in a particular course. It means that the student's work is "ok" (no significant problems or special promise). It is not a negative grade but reflects what can be expected of a typical student doing adequate work.

II. A "B" reflects my judgment that the student's work is better than what I would expect from my "typical" student. The student's work is "good" and shows promise.

III. An "A" exhibits outstanding work or, better put, work that "stands out" from typical students in a course such as this. It displays characteristics such as original thinking, a firm grasp of materials and an ability to critique these materials. It is attainable, not only by students who are "brilliant" but by any student who works hard and is engaged with the materials of the course. It also reflects an ability to communicate clearly and thoughtfully.

IV. A "D" is given to communicate to a student that there are "problems" with the student's work. Such problems might be in communication or understanding of course materials and could arise due to inadequate study habits, poor preparation, or social difficulties. It is important for the student to locate the source of these problems. Students are strongly encouraged to discuss this grade with the coordinator.

V. An "F" is my "do it over again" grade. It means that there are so many problems that we (the student and I) need to go back to the beginning of the process and walk our way through it again.

Course Outline

Please Note: This syllabus admits of additions and deletions as determined by demands of the course.

Unit 1: What is “globalization”?

  1. Introduction – the global religious experience of “Bend It Like Bekham."

  2. Globalization and the Information Age.

  3. Globalization and cultural contact.

  4. Religious Experience in a global context.

Unit 2: Primal religions and globalization.

  1. Native religious experience from orality to writing.
  2. Native encounters with Others: shaping a new world for both.
  3. The problematic of Primal Religions and globalization.

Unit 3: Buddhism

  1. Buddha, Dharma, Sangha: the categories of Buddhist religious experience.
  2. Theravada, Mahayana, Vajrayana, Zen: the internationalization of Buddhism in pre-modern times.
  3. Buddhism as a global religion.

Unit 4: Hinduism

  1. Hinduism as a tradition – Hinduism as traditions: the forms of the Hindu religious experience.
  2. Hinduism in the Modern Age.
  3. “The Diaspora of the Gods”: global Hinduism.

Unit 5: Islam

  1. The Islamic religious experience from Mohammed to the Present.
  2. The Internationalization of Islam: a global religion before globalization.
  3. Islam in the 21st Century.

Unit 6: Religion and Globalization: East Asia and the World.

  1. Religious diffusion in East Asia.
  2. The West comes East and the East comes West.
  3. What do we have to do with "them" and "them" with "us"?

 Unit 7: Student Group presentations.


This page is maintained by Jim Dalton.    Last updated on January 10, 2006.

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