Rudolf Koch - Chi Rho

"The Christian Village"
Course # 0128-100

Prof. Felix Just, S.J.
Dept. of Theology & Religious Studies
University of San Francisco

Rudolf Koch - Symbols Cross

Course Syllabus - Spring 2006

Sec. 2:  MW 8:05 – 9:20 a.m., LM 244A    Sec. 1:  MW 11:35 – 12:50, LM 244A
Office Hours: by appt.    Office: CAT 6 (Welsh Field trailers are now closed; email or call me to make an appointment)
Email: fnjust—at—    Home Phone: 415-422-5302

Course Description and Learning Outcomes:

This core course is intended to expand your understanding and enliven your appreciation of religion in general and Christianity in particular. We will study a wide variety of aspects and elements of Christianity, including its origins, history, demographics, theology, and praxis. We will pay attention not only to foundational texts and official doctrines, but also to liturgical rites, spiritual practices, moral teachings, popular piety, art and architecture, etc.

As a result of this course, students should be able to:

  1. understand the foundational role of the Bible (its origin, interpretation, and use) in Christian life;
  2. know the key figures and historical highlights of the 2000-year growth and development of Christianity;
  3. explain the core beliefs and practices that are common to all branches of Christianity throughout the world;
  4. know some of the main differences between the Orthodox, Catholic, and Protestant branches of Christianity;
  5. appreciate the complex relationship of Christianity to other major world religions, esp. to Judaism and Islam;
  6. understand how Christianity has influenced such perennial issues as war & peace, justice, and the environment;
  7. recognize how religion, theology, and spirituality underlie and correlate with a broad range of human experience;
  8. know how to find reliable information and resources for life-long learning about Christianity and other religions.

For the official "learning goals" of USF's Core Curriculum, see also

Required Textbooks and Instructional Materials:

  1. Senior, Donald, ed. The Catholic Study Bible: New American Bible. New York & Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1990. - ISBN 0-19-528277-9
  2. Gilles, Anthony E. People of God: The History of Catholic Christianity. Cincinnati: St. Anthony Messenger Press, 2000. - ISBN 0-86716-363-1
  3. Rausch, Thomas P. Catholicism in the Third Millennium. Second edition. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2003. - ISBN 0-8146-5899-7
  4. Use of email and web-based resources (

An "Educational Covenant":

The process of teaching and learning requires attention to several basic principles:

a) respect for one another;  b) respect for the subject material;  c) respect for the learning process.

To make these principles concrete, all of us need to contribute to the process:

I, the professor, promise to: You, the student, promise to:
· be well-prepared for each class
· be serious and enthusiastic about the course
· be respectful of your views and experiences
· be attentive to your struggles and progress
· be available to you outside of the classroom
· not eat or drink or use cell phones during class
· bring all materials needed for instruction
· explain the format and content of exams
· let you know ASAP if class must be cancelled
· start and end class on time each day
· be well-prepared for each class
· be serious and enthusiastic about the course
· be respectful of my and other students' views
· be responsible for your own work and progress
· participate in class and in your discussion group
· not eat or drink or use cell phones during class
· always bring your Bible and textbooks to class
· study carefully and thoroughly for all the exams
· inform me if you have an unavoidable absence
· be on time, and remain for the whole class

Course Work and Expectations:

  1. Attendance & Participation: On-time attendance each day is crucial to your success in this course. Please let me know in advance (personally, by phone, or by e-mail) if you absolutely must miss, be late, or leave early for any class. You will be marked down for unexcused absences and tardiness. Always come prepared to summarize the readings, take notes, ask questions, and challenge assumptions (your own and those of others - but always respectfully!).
  2. Required Readings: All reading assignments should be completed before you come to class each day, so that you can better understand the lectures and contribute to the discussions. In addition to the readings from our textbooks, certain webpages will also be required almost daily, so check the online version of the "Detailed Class Schedule" regularly.
  3. Discussion Groups: This is a 4-credit course, but we are scheduled to meet together in class only 3 academic hours (150 minutes) each week. To cover the fourth credit, groups of 4-5 students will meet for an hour each week to discuss and study together. Discussion questions will be available on the course website each Wednesday; groups should meet some time before class the following Monday (you decide the exact time and place). Each group should write and turn in a 1-page summary of your weekly discussion (see the website for formatting details).
  4. Quizzes and Exams: We will have a short quiz almost every week (about 10-12 minutes each, on the current readings), and a comprehensive final exam. No make-up quizzes will be given, but your lowest two quiz scores will be dropped.
  5. Term Project/Paper: Visit the main weekend worship services at churches of three different Christian denominations (one could be your own church). Analyze the structure of the rites, the use of the Bible, the role of music and rituals, etc. Discuss your observations with the members of your discussion group. Write a short paper (5-6 pages) comparing and contrasting the three services you attended. See the attached instructions for further details.
  6. Extra Credit: You can earn up to 40 extra points for attending special lectures (on- or off-campus), reviewing videos, following news stories, or other activities that are somehow related to our course (and usually by writing a very brief report about it). I will make pertinent announcements in class, or you can propose ideas of your own.
  7. Office Visits: Please visit or call me any time during the semester to discuss any questions or problems. Scheduled office hours are on top of this syllabus, or you can make an appointment to meet with me at almost any other time.
  8. Disabilities or Special Needs: If you have a physical impairment, learning disability, or any other special need that requires extra accommodations for your assignments and/or examinations, please let me know as soon as possible so we can make appropriate arrangements, as needed.
  9. Academic Honesty and Integrity: I strongly encourage you to study together, learn from one another, and make use of outside sources (books, people, websites) to help you learn even more than you would from our textbooks or me alone. All written work, however, must obviously be your own, unless you are citing directly from sources that you have properly documented and credited. Copying from any person, book, website, etc., without properly documenting your source (even if you change a few words!), is a serious offense (plagiarism), which will result in a failing grade for the exam or the entire course! See the USF "Fogcutter" (p. 100) for more info about plagiarism and academic honesty.
  10. Course Grades: Final letter grades will be based on a total of 500 points possible in this course:
    * Attendance & Participation: 100 points (attendance; discussion groups; etc.; 20% of the course total)
    * Weekly Quizzes: 150 points (10x15 pts; 30% of the course total)
    * Project/Paper: 100 points (20% of the course total)
    * Final Exam: 150 points (30% of the course total)



This syllabus may be modified slightly during this semester, as announced in class and on the course website.

Affirmation of Acceptance:

We, the undersigned student and teacher, agree to abide by all the aforementioned stipulations of this syllabus, including the "Educational Covenant" and the "Course Work and Expectations," to the best of our ability.

Student's Name (print): ____________________________________ Date: ___________________________________

Student's Signature: _______________________________________ Instructor: _______________________________


See also Class Schedule | Discussion Groups | Research Project | Study Guide: Quizzes | Study Guide: Gilles | Study Guides: Rausch

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