Fall Semester, 2007
Coordinator: Dr. Jim Dalton
Office: Clare Center 203
Office Hours: Wednesday 8:30-11:30, TT 8:30-9:30 and by appointment
Phone: 783-4235
E-mail: dalton (


“Globalization broadly refers to the expansion of global linkages, the organization of social life on a global scale, and the growth of a global consciousness, hence to the consolidation of world society.” ( Although globalization is a contested concept, there is little doubt that religion and various religious traditions have had significant influence on this process both historically and in recent times. This course will consist in a disciplined examination of the relationship of religious traditions and the development of global perspectives. Although the course will focus on the contemporary situation of religion in a global environment, attention will be paid to the historical, cultural and religious roots of the current global situation.


    This course has three primary objectives:

1.  An appreciation of the breadth and range of religious experience and an awareness of the assumptions that individuals and groups bring to the study of religious experience.

2.  An appreciation of the diversity within and among religious communities and how religious traditions interact with their own cultures and histories as well as with each other.

3.  Students who succeed in doing good work in this course will have  the following:

-- knowledge of the meaning of cultural contact and its role in the development of global perspectives both historically and in recent world history.
-- acquaintance with the phenomena of New Religious Movements both in their cultural context and global manifestations.
-- knowledge of major “Fundamentalist” and Pentecostal movements, their variety and global outreach in the twenty-first century.
-- appreciation of the global dimensions of the Franciscan movement historically and in the contemporary world as a significant expression of Christian globalization.
-- ability to communicate their knowledge and appreciation in written and oral forms. Opportunities for in class and draft writing will be provided for students
-- ability to analyze the relationship of religion to globalization and to draw conclusions from this analysis.
-- ability to access the ethical implications of globalization and the role of religious traditions in forming ethical judgments concerning the economic, social and cultural dimensions of globalization.


Brasher, Brenda E. Give Me That Online Religion. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2004.

Ruthven, Malise. Fundamentalism: The Search for Meaning. NY: Oxford University Press, 2004.

Woodhead, Linda, Paul Fletcher, Hiroko Kawanami and David Smith (eds). Religions in the Modern World. NY: Routledge, 2002.

World Wide Web.


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 Word 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, when there is assigned reading, there might be a brief test on the reading for which students are responsible for that period. Alternatively, the students will bring a one to two page double spaced summary of the major points of the assigned reading to the class where it will be discussed. The Mid-semester exam is scheduled for Tuesday, October 23 or Wednesday October 24.

C. During the course of the semester students will be divided into groups and will prepare a report and final class presentation on a topic related to one of the major themes of the course (New Religious Movements, Fundamentalism, Franciscan globalism). Individual students will be expected to do a preparatory  research report that will be due two weeks prior to the group 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 four absences (Tuesday/Thursday section) or two absences (Wednesday section) will be considered excessive. Further absences could affect 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.

F. In the event of an influenza pandemic or other national emergency that requires Siena College to close for an extended period, this course will continue on the basis of the Pandemic Plan.

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”: Globalization and the Information Age?

1.      Introduction – global religion in “Babel.”

2.      The Network Society and globalization.

3.      Transnational’s and global civil societies.

4.      Religious Experience in a global context.

Unit 2: Globalization and its histories.

1.      Religious change and Cultural contact.

2.      Globalization I: the Axial Age (1000 BCE – 600 CE)

3.      Globalization II: from Rome to Europe (400 – 800)

4.      Globalization III: the Colonial Age (1500 – 1960)

5.      Globalization IV: the Information Age (1960 – the future)

Unit 3: Global Religions and New Religious Movements.

1.      Global Religions: Buddhism, Christianity, Islam.

2.      Hinduism and guru-centered movements in the West.

3.      Buddhism and “new religions” in the 20th century.

4.      Islamic movements from Wahabi to Sufi.

Unit 4: The Fundamentalist response to modernity and globalization.

1.      “Fundamentalism” and its American roots: a contested concept.

2.      “Fundamentalism” in Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, and Judaism.

3.      Globalized Christianity in the 21st century: Pentecostalism and Fundamentalism on the world scene.

Unit 5: Franciscanism and Globalization.

1.      Franciscan origins: Francis and the Sultan.

2.      The Franciscan vision of globalization: one Christian response.

3.      The Franciscan order as a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO): a Christian civil society.

 Unit 6: Student Group presentations.

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