An Introduction to the Sociology of Religion
Using the tremendous diversity of religious belief and practice in North America, but particularly new religious movements, this class will acquaint students with the academic study of religion as a social (and sociological) phenomenon. Students will learn how religion has been interpreted by sociologists in the past, and how evolving perspectives shape both the way academics perceive religion and how they study it. They will learn how religion permeates and affects virtually every domain of human culture and interaction. And they will gain experience in fieldwork, coming to understand in the process religious traditions other than those in which they may have been raised.
As we will discuss in Week Two, the motto for our class was given to us over a century ago by the eminent philologist, Max Müller: "He who knows one, knows none" (recalling, of course, that we mean both he and she).
204C Haag Hall
Sociology 580T (graduate):
|Location||201 Haag Hall|
|Time||Tuesday / Thursday 11:00 a.m.-12:15 p.m.|
|Office Hours||Tuesday / Thursday 12:30-1:30 p.m., or by appointment|
|Required textbook||Susanne C. Monahan et al, eds. Sociology of Religion: A Reader; plus other readings as assigned by Prof. Cowan, and placed on electronic reserve.|
and Class Evaluation | Electronic Reserve Readings |
Course Syllabus | Attendance Policy
| Academic Honesty
Assignments and Class Evaluation
|Two in-class tests||Mixed short answer and essay questions (20% each)||40%|
|Field research and reporting|| (a) Interim
written report on field work
(b) Class presentation on field work
|Final written report on field work||35%|
There will be no registrar scheduled final exam for this course.
To Access Electronic Reserve Readings:
The Electronic Reserve system (Eres) is designed to allow students to access reserve reading materials from their home computer or computer workstations here on campus. Once you have accessed the readings for the week, they can be downloaded in Portable Document Format (.pdf). This requires the Adobe Acrobat Reader. If this is not already installed on your computer, you can download it free of charge at (http://www.adobe.com). Click on the "Get Acrobat reader button" at the bottom of the home page, and follow the directions to the "Free Reader."
NB: Do not wait until the last minute.
Excuses regarding computer malfunction or failure will not be accepted.
To download and print Eres material:
1. Go to the Miller Nichols Library website (http://www.umkc.edu/lib/).
2. Click on "Miller Nichols Library."
3. Click on "Reserve Materials."
4. Click on "Eres" service.
5. Click on "Electronic Reserves and Course Materials." If you are reading this online, you can go right from here.
6. Under "Select an Instructor," choose "Cowan, Douglas." Click "Go."
7. Click hyperlink for "Introduction to Sociology."
8. Click "Accept."
9. Click hyperlink for appropriate reading (see Master List of Readings below); .pdf readings will open in a new window. Print readings using the "Print" function on the .pdf window.
10. Prepare a brilliant outline, and participate boldly in class.
Master List of Eres Readings:
Unless otherwise indicated, all readings are from Monahan et al, Sociology of Religion: A Reader.
Cells marked with a shaded background include electronic reserve readings available through the Miller Nichols Library.
Introduction to the sociology of religion, and an introduction to "religion."
How to read a book.
or how we do what we do.
Introduction to research and fieldwork.
|Belief and Ritual||Monahan, pp.30-54
|Religious Experience||Monahan, pp.55-77|
|Religious Authority and Institution||
Are the pews really empty? Are we less religious?
The secularization debate.
|Gender, Sexuality, and Religion||
Monahan, pp.115-143; pp.173-195
|Politics and Religion||Monahan, pp.337-373|
In-class test #1
Spring break (no classes)
|Class Presentations of Fieldwork in progress|
|Class Presentations of Fieldwork in progress|
|Cults, Sects, and Alternative Religious Movements I||Monahan, pp. 258-303|
|Cults, Sects, and Alternative Religious Movements II||
|Religious Movements and Countermovements||
|Media and Religion||
|Religion and the Internet||
In-class test #2
Students are expected to attend and participate in all class sessions. Only excused absences which have been arranged in advance with Prof. Cowan, or which are substantiated by medical documentation, will be accepted. As well, class will begin promptly at 11:00 and students are expected to be on time. Any more than two unexcused absences will result in a grade penalty of 1% per missed class. This policy is based on long experience which demonstrates clearly that students who attend class achieve far better command of the material than those who do not.
Please note that Prof. Cowan has a zero-tolerance policy for plagiarism and other forms of academic dishonesty. Academic dishonesty will result in a "0" for the assignment in question, and consequences can range from course failure (for undergraduate students) to a request for official dismissal from the program in which a student is enrolled (for graduate students). If you are unclear about what constitutes plagiarism, click here.
If you would like to know under what circumstances Prof. Cowan will exhibit leniency towards plagiarism, click here.
If students are taking this course for graduate credit (i.e., you are registered in Sociology 580T), there will be an increased workload. The essay portion of in-class tests will be graded at a graduate level, and you will be expected to write two book reviews based on outside reading that is related to the subject of your fieldwork project. It is imperative that you make an appointment to see Prof. Cowan during the first week of classes to discuss this.
University of Missouri-Kansas City