Choose one philosophical issue you would like to discuss. Examples: free will, the self, punishment, the afterlife, the soul, faith, morality, identity, etc.
Choose one or two different religions, and examine their beliefs on your topic. You can either choose one religion and really get into a detailed analysis of where they stand on your issue and why, or you can choose two religions and do some sort of compare and contrast between the two. I would not recommend discussing more than two religions. I would much rather have you spend a lot of time talking in-depth about one or two than to only write a few sentences about a bunch of them. You could also choose two different denominations of the same religion if you wanted to (for example: Catholicism and Mormonism are both versions of Christianity, but their viewpoints on all these things may be very different).
Choose something you are interested in exploring, thinking about, and talking about. And keep in mind you can analyze/criticize a belief in a respectful and professional manner. Your paper shouldn’t read like an onslaught against the religion you’ve chosen (though you are allowed to disagree and be critical if you’d like).
Choose a topic/religion that was discussed briefly in your book that you would like to learn more about. This will be more like a research paper than the other options. A lot of the religions from the Primal Beliefs, Ancient/Classical Beliefs, and Modern Religions chapters would be good to choose since your book only devotes about a page to them, and there is a lot more to learn!
Choose one religion you want to learn more about. If you do this, I would recommend focusing on one of their beliefs (like how they view the creation of the world, their rituals, the afterlife, etc.). I would much rather have you get into a detailed discussion about one of these aspects of a religion than to try and cram in everything they believe and do. I wouldn’t recommend trying to do a research paper on more than one religion, since you will not be able to get into much detail in 4-6 pages. Make sure you use reputable sources if you choose this option. There is more information about sources and citation below.
If you have thought of something related to one or more of the religions we have discussed (or even a religion/denomination not dealt with in the book) that you think would be interesting to explore further, here is your opportunity. I strongly recommend checking with me before you begin working on this option so that I can express any concerns I may have about your topic and to give you some helpful advice. You can compare a few different religions in a specific way, discuss historical/political influences on a religious shift/belief, the role of women/minorities/disadvantaged in religion, talk about the body count most religions tend to have, etc. What you DON’T want to do here is just rehash something you have already written for a quiz answer, though there are ways you can expand on some of those questions/topics. The goal of this paper is to go above and beyond what we have been focusing on in class.
Stay away from Wikipedia; it is not a credible source for a college paper. If you do use sources, you will need a bibliography/works cited page, and make sure you cite throughout the paper to avoid plagiarism. Remember any instance of plagiarism results in failing this entire course, without the possibility for making up the assignment. If you are just using your book, you will need to cite it throughout your paper but you do not need a bibliography. Depending on your topic, it might be a good idea to use the sacred text of that religion (you can probably find most of them at the library or online—just make sure it is legit). You can use whatever citation method you are comfortable with (APA, MLA, Chicago style, etc.) as long as you are consistent.
4 pages, Double-spaced
I think 4-6 pages is the amount of time it should take you to do everything I am asking you to do, but content is more important than meeting specific page requirements. Please do not change font, spacing, or margins to make your paper appear longer or shorter than it actually is. If you can provide a detailed and well thought-out discussion in slightly less than 4 pages (or slightly more than 6), I would rather take it as is.
Make sure that you PROOFREAD your paper before printing it out to correct any spelling, grammar, punctuation, and citation errors. There are writing tutors that can help with this, so please utilize that resource if you are not confident in your writing abilities.
Feel free to email me any time before that if you have questions.
Before you upload your Final Paper, please run through this checklist:
Proofread the whole thing carefully to clean up any basic mistakes and correct anything that is confusing/unclear.
- If you’ve used sources other than your textbook, make sure you have a bibliography/works cited page, just include it in the same document at the end of your paper (you don’t need one if you are only using the textbook).
- Be sure you’ve cited/quoted all your sources throughout the paper to avoid plagiarism! You need to cite where your information is coming from even if you are paraphrasing or explaining in your own words. Remember any cheating/plagiarism results in you failing this entire class, which would be terrible after a whole semester of hard work!
- Don’t submit a pages document! Make sure your word processing software is compatible with Blackboard so that I am able to read it. Pages documents will not work.
- Doublecheck that you are comfortable and confident turning in the assignment. If you had someone else help you with this assignment (even a Harper tutor), you still need to know that you are the one being graded on it (and it needs to be your own work in your own words).
- Please don’t disappear! I know you’re anxious to get going on your much-deserved summer break, but please make sure you don’t totally disappear immediately. I have to have your grades submitted VERY quickly, and I would hate to be unable to read your paper or get in touch with you.
- Thanks! I appreciate all the time and effort you spent on this Final Paper, and I really do look forward to reading it! Feel free to email me if you’d like feedback/comments/thoughts!