How Can You Achieve These Goals?
We will provide a variety of activities and resources designed to help
Your textbooks and coursepack provide the basic content of the course.
Spilka, B., Hood, R.H. Jr, & Gorsuch, R.L., The Psychology of Religion: An Empirical Approach. Prentice-Hall, 1985 is a standard American textbook representing the approach of most American psychologists.
deWit, H.F. Contemplative Psychology. Duquesne University Press, 1991 represents a phenomenological approach more akin to the beliefs of the religions in India and Eastern Asia.
The Coursepack includes a number of readings from the Eastern tradition, some of which have never been published in the United States.
Much of what we would like you to read is not readily accessible or would require you to spend too much time to read. The lectures will present such material as well as elaborating the assigned readings.
Do the reading before you come to lectures. Doing this will ensure that everyone involved will get more out of the course. The lectures will be more comprehensible to you (which is good for you), and therefore you will be more likely to ask interesting questions (which is good for us and you fellow students). In listening and reading try to think about the implications of the lecturer's or author's words. (Don't just memorize them!)
Discussions are intended to give you a chance to raise questions, to try out your ideas, and to learn from your classmates by getting their reactions to your thoughts and comparing their experiences with yours. Discussions are particularly important in a course such as this where one is trying to understand religious beliefs of others as well as clarify one's own beliefs
The discussion sections will also include demonstrations and experiential exercises intended to aid your understanding and appreciation of spirituality in western and eastern religions.
The first paper (4-7 pages) is to be a comparative analysis of the functioning of two religious groups. You are asked to visit the services of two different traditions or denominations within a tradition (e.g. Christian, Buddhist, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu) that are significantly different from one another. Before you go, we will set up teams of three or four students with whom you will be sharing your experiences. Your team should make sure that as a group you visit at least 3 or 4 different communities. If possible, it might be best to go with a member of the organization or a member of your team.
Rob will try to set up visits to the Jewel Heart Buddhist Center, the Zen Buddhist Temple, and the Siddha Yoga Meditation Center if students are interested.
When you go, try to find out answers to some of the questions we
suggest below. (We believe that most people in a spiritual community will
be happy to tell you something about their organization). In essence, try
to understand how the particular community operates, what beliefs are
present, what practices occur, and what the meanings of that community and
its practices are to its participants. In addition, you will be asked to
reflect on your experiences in those communities. Finally, we will ask you
to compare the two groups you visit in a written paper. Here are some of
the questions you might investigate:
In the groups of three or four that were set-up early by your section leader, get together with the other team members and compare your experiences in the visits you made. Your team should make sure that as a group visit at least 4 different religious groups. The team is then to prepare a team report comparing and contrasting the groups visited by your team.
The goal of this project is to provide you with a broader perspective on different religious traditions that is deeper than you could gain by yourself. Although not a focus of your paper, this might also be an opportunity to share with your group members what you know of your own tradition. This will be especially useful if you have chosen to take another group member to your organization as a part of their experience of a new tradition. By planning and carrying out this project, you will not only gain a better understanding of the concepts of the course, but also gain experience and skills in working in cooperative groups--skills that are important for learning in college and afterwards as well.
After you have shared your experiences try to discover several "core" or main questions you all had in visiting different organizations. For instance, you might wonder what kinds of "religious experiences" members in the community have. After you have identified one or two main questions you might have about the different communities, discuss how you might conduct a scientific investigation into that question. Could empirical methods as developed in the western science of psychology be used to aid in answering your questions? What about eastern approaches to spiritual practice and the psychological aspects of spiritual life? How might the notion of a "contemplative psychology" be used to investigate your questions? describe the questions, assumptions about the "psychology of religion", and the methods you might use to investigate your questions.
The weekly journal is a means of reflecting on your own religious experiences, thinking critically about issues relating to psychology and religion, and integrating these things with the readings and material from lecture, and discussions in class and out of class. Each week, your section instructor will provide you with a quote or phrase or question and will ask you to briefly reflect on it. In addition, you should feel free to provide any other insights you may have gained or questions that have come to mind during that week. The journal will serve as a means of dialoguing with a classmate and your TA.
In the beginning of the course, your section leader will ask you to pair up with another student. Each week you and your partner will exchange the SINGLE PAGE journal entries, and will provide A SEPARATE SHEET with some comments/thoughts/feedback to that person on the entry. At three times during the semester your TA will collect both your journal entries and the comments you provided to the other person on their entries. The TA will ask you to pick one or two entries that were particularly important to you, and will give you feedback on those entries as well.
Your TA will assign points based on the completion of weekly journal entries and the provision of feedback to your partner. These journals are meant for your personal exploration and sharing with another of your classmates.
When you read your partner's journal entries, your purpose is not to evaluate it. Rather, give your own reactions, ideas, suggestions, understandings, etc. Think of it as a conversation from which you both will share and learn.
Our tests are intended primarily to help your learning and memory, but also to provide a basis for grading. We will test not only basic knowledge, but also your ability to apply and think about psychology and religion.
We do not grade competitively on a curve. It will pay to help your classmates and to work cooperatively with them. Your grade will be determined by the total points you earn.
Points will be awarded as follows:
First paper 80
Team paper 40
Quizzes, discussion, journals, etc. 60
Final exam 100
There will be 320 possible points. Grades are based on your point
288 - 320 = A- to A+
256 - 287 = B- to B+
208 - 255 = C- to C+
160 - 207 = D- to D+
Readings: Spilka, Hood, & Gorsuch, Chapter 1 (pp. 1-29)
Wednesday Lecture: Introduction to Psychology and Religion, Instructors' Positions, Course Goals, Student Expectations
Wednesday Lecture: Religious Development in Childhood
Readings: Spilka, Hood, & Gorsuch, Chapter 4 (pp.88-92), Chapter 5
Monday Lecture: MLK DAY - NO CLASS
Wednesday Lecture: Religious Development in Adult Life
Supplementary Readings: Wulff, Psychology of Religion, Chapter 8
HAND IN JOURNALS AND COMMENTS IN DISCUSSION SECTIONS
Monday Lecture: Mysticism - Western Approaches
Wednesday Lecture: Mystical Experience and Methodology - Eastern Approach
Supplementary Readings: James, Varieties of Religious Experience, Lectures XVI & XVII, "Mysticism"
SPRING BREAK - NO CLASSES
HAND IN PAPER #1 IN DISCUSSION SECTIONS
Monday Lecture: Zen Buddhism
Wednesday Lecture: The Social Psychology of Religion
Supplementary Readings: Wulff, Psychology of Religion, Chapter 5
HAND IN PAPER #2 IN DISCUSSION SECTIONS
Readings: Spilka, Hood, & Gorsuch, Chapter 6
Monday Lecture: Religion and Death
Wednesday Lecture: The Near Death Experience (Calvert Rozelle)
Rozelle, C., The near-death experience
To be announced
Monday Lecture: Bereavement, Loss, Grief and the Church
Wednesday Lecture: Existentialism
Supplementary Readings: Fadiman & Frager, Personality & Personal Growth, Chapter 15
Readings: de Wit, Chapter 5, "Body and Behavior in Contemplative Psychology"
Monday Lecture: The Body and Spirituality
Wednesday Lecture: STUDENT-CHOSEN TOPIC
Supplementary Readings: Fadiman & Frager, Personality & Personal Growth, Chapter 7
HAND IN JOURNALS AND COMMENTS
Monday Lecture: Review Section