Welcome Letter/Sample Syllabus Phil 209

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Philosophy 209 / Nine Weeks / Spring (32984) and Fall (73437)

Welcome Online Learners!

Welcome to Distance Education at Cuesta College! My name is Dr. Cheryl Genet and I am the instructor for the upcoming online version of World Religions (Phil 209). It is a course of timely value for our participation in the emerging global community. In this course we will take a fascinating journey of discovery together that deepens our appreciation of the world’s great wisdom traditions. I look forward to getting to know each of you who enroll and assisting you with achieving the learning outcomes for this course.  

This course compresses 18 weeks of a regular semester into 8-9 weeks (late term). As per requirements for a 8-9 week class it still covers most of the 18 weeks of material—I have modified it only slightly. Be prepared.  Please see Sample Syllabus below.

PHIL 209 Student Learning Outcomes

Students who successfully complete a course in World Religions at Cuesta College will have demonstrated the ability to:

  • Distinguish between academic and devotional approaches to religion
  • Summarize & explain the histories, both internal & external, of the major religions covered in the course
  • Explain the connections between religious practices and the beliefs that motivate those practices
  • Describe & assess the historical and/or doctrinal connections between specific relevant religious traditions
  • Write clearly and critically about ideas relevant to the academic study of the world’s religions


  • It is preferred that if you have a question or concern or other communication that you email me at cheryl_genet@cuesta.edu I will answer your email as soon as possible, but at the minimum within 24 hours.
  • If you need to call me and speak personally, do not hesitate. You can reach me at 805-438-4088. 

Basic Course Information

This World Religions course is an exploration of the practices, beliefs, and context of the world’s five major religions, as well as consideration of indigenous religions, new religions, religious cultural issues, religion and sustainable living, and the nature of religion itself.

The required textbook  is:

Molloy, Michael. 2010. Experiencing the World’s Religion: Tradition, Challenge, and Change.
5th ed.  NY: McGraw Hill. 
     5th ed. is essential. You can purchase this at the Cuesta bookstore but it is expensive. This is an old edition, but you can buy or rent it online for anywhere from $2.50 to $50 used (roughly). There is a PDF downloadable version available to you in the Course, though I don't recommend studying from an online version unless you have to, it will suffice until your book comes.

WHAT TO EXPECT: This course is fully online—there are no meetings—nevertheless it has regular assignments, quizzes, and forum posts with specific weekly due dates. It also requires watching two to three videos per week (3 minutes to 40 minutes), necessitating internet usage time. If you are not prepared to stay on top of assignments throughout each week, this may not be the best class for you.


Your course is located on the Cuesta College Canvas Course Management System. You can access Canvas through your MyCuesta Links to an external site. account Use your Cuesta ID and password. Here you can find Instructions on how to access Canvas and find your classes Links to an external site.


The Orientation Video and notes are mandatory (see Class Schedule for due date). You may be dropped from the course if you do not participate. There are also 4 Synchronous Tests (online). In addition, timely participation in all activities is critical for a good or even passing grade. In general, each week’s work must be completed in order, on time, and submitted by the end of the Unit.


There are four types of reading assignments: Unit Introductions, Text reading assignments, some Special Focus and Context Enrichment assignments. Students are expected complete the required reading assignments for each week, take the reading quiz, and complete and submit the Reading Worksheet (RW).


To assure compliance with reading requirements, reading quizzes will be given covering each unit’s reading assignments. These quizzes will be brief, objective (true/false, multiple choice), and untimed. There will also be a short quiz after each Special Focus assignment. Quizzes must be taken within the unit they are assigned.

Discussion Session

There will be a discussion session for most Units. You must complete the assigned Reading Worksheet (RW), complete the Special Focus assignment, and watch the assigned Religion & Ethics segment before you enter your Discussion Forum (DF). Be sure to follow instructions for DF participation carefully. Participation in the DF’s are critical to your grade!


There will be four Synchronous Test (online) that will cover the previous three to five Learning Units, including glossary terms. In this 9 week course these are taken 2 at a time. Collectively, these four tests comprise the equivalent of a final exam. There is no comprehensive final at the end of the semester.

Important Considerations

While Distance Education courses have many benefits in allowing for flexible schedules and a rewarding learning experience, there are a number of things you should know about this course right from the start:

  1. This course is designed for those who are computer literate. If you are not both confident and comfortable working with e-mail, word processing, and the Internet, as well as downloading and attaching files, then the online version of PHIL 209 is not for you; I recommend taking the course in the traditional classroom setting instead.
  1. This course requires a great deal of self-motivation. It is the learner’s responsibility to keep on top of the reading assignments, to log on to the course website regularly, and to submit assignments  and take quizzes by their due date, and access email regularly for instructor communications.  Thus, I recommend this course only to those who are both well-organized and self-disciplined.
  1. An online course requires roughly the same number of hours and participation as a face-to-face class. According to Cuesta, you should expect to invest 48 hours of various types of learning and participation for each unit of credit. This 3 unit course over 18 weeks (of instruction) works out to 144 hours. Break that down by week and it comes to 24 hours per week. This is obviously unrealistic and not an accurate equivalency. So, a good rule of thumb for this 8 week version it would likely be 12 hours per week. To make sure you have adequate time, set aside at least this many hours per week.
  1. You may want to read the Are You Ready for an Online Class?Links to an external site. which can be found on the Canvas website for this class, to help you evaluate your success in online learning.  It also contains many ideas on how to achieve that success.

Technology Requirements

You will need to have a Cuesta e-mail account and access to the World Wide Web.

Please see below for more detailed computer and internet specs.

Computer Requirements

Computer and technical requirements Links to an external site.

Accessing Canvas/Course Website

All of the information you will need to access this course on Canvas, learn how to navigate Canvas, and access assistance if you are having problems, can be found on the Cuesta website Distance Education pageLinks to an external site.

DSPS Assistance

I am happy to work closely with you and the DSPS to make this as rich a learning experience as possible for all!

Disable Students and Program ServicesLinks to an external site.

College and Course Policies

College and Course Policies Links to an external site.

Cuesta waitlist procedure and instructionsLinks to an external site.

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