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RELIGION 101-151: Introduction to Religion

Research Project

The research project should be a three to five page paper on a topic that you would like to explore further.  This may be a topic related to how religion relates to/ impacts your field of study (e.g. health care, nursing, business, art, education, etc.). All topics must be approved in advance by the instructor. Deadline for topic approval is September 29.
You should use at least three resources for your paper.  Include a works-cited page.  Although it will not be graded on grammar and formatting, strive to produce a well-written paper with a minimum of grammatical and spelling errors.  The paper will be graded on accuracy, completeness, evidence of research and reflection as well as overall presentation.  It should be done in Microsoft Word, double-spaced, using a 12 point font. Papers can be submitted electronically by CampusCruiser e-mail.
Possible Topics
The following list may be helpful in identifying a topic of interest to you. 
Art and Architecture
  • The architecture and symbolism of the Buddhist stupa
  • History and Purpose of Icons in Orthodox Christianity
  • Hindu images and the idea of darshan.
  • Islamic Architecture
  • The Gothic Cathedral
  • Rites of Passage (could compare important rites of passage in two religions)
  • The Divine Liturgy of the Orthodox Church
  • The ritual of the American Camp meeting


  • Al-Andalus: Islamic Spain
  • The Crusades
  • The first/second Great Awakenings in America
  • The role of the Church in the American debate over slavery
  • The early history of the Church of Latter Day Saints (Mormons)
  • The impact of Islamic learning on the European Renaissance
A research paper on the religious thought of any of the following would be acceptable:
  • Gandhi
  • Anselm
  • Black Elk
  • The Dalai Lama
  • St. Augustine
  • Elie Wiesel
  • Desmond Tutu
Religion, Society and Contemporary Events
  • The Concept of Jihad in Islam
  • Source and nature of "Islamic mortgages"
  • Role of women in Islam
  • Role of Religion in the Northern Ireland Conflict
  • Role of Religion in the India-Pakistan conflict
  • Religion and Health Care issues
  • Religion and Business Issues
New Religious Movements
  • People's Temple
  • Branch Davidians
  • Heaven's Gate
  • Scientology
Religious Traditions:

Since this class will focus on the five major global religions, you may wish to do a research paper that explores other religious traditions.  Some possibilities include:

  • African Religions
  • Native American Religion
  • Shinto
  • Zoroastrianism
  • Sikhism
  • Daoism
  • Confucianism
  • Baha'i
  • Theosophical Society
Field Experience

In the study of religion, direct, careful and empathetic observation plays an important role in learning about and understanding various religious traditions. You may choose to research and visit a typical worship service of a tradition other than your own. Some possibilities include:

  • The Divine Liturgy of the Orthodox Church
  • Sabbath Service at a Jewish Synagogue
  • Worship at the Vedic Center