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UNIV 3581 Syllabus

Course Syllabus

UNIV 3581 - Faith, Reason, and Imagination

3 Credit Hours

Course Information

Course Description:

This course is an interdisciplinary Humanities course. It uses a variety of Humanities disciplines, most notably history, literature, philosophy and religion, to examine the themes of faith, reason and imagination, the three distinct ways by which people have claimed to know – to obtain knowledge, meaning, or truth. Our proposed subject of study can be helpful in clarifying how each one of us comes to answer questions, solve problems, and make decisions that are very personal to us. We shall be dealing directly with personal topics such as the existence and nature of God, right and wrong and love. We will examine a number of texts on all three of the ways of knowing. Among those under the heading of faith are selections from the Christian New Testament, the Muslim Qur'an and Hadith, and Aquinas; under the heading of reason, selections from Descartes, Hume, and the Confucian tradition; and under the heading of imagination, Romantic poets such as Blake and Wordsworth and the novelist Dickens. 

Course Outcomes:

Upon completion of this course the student should be able to:

  • Understand the three basic ways by which people claim to know, and recognize the merits and deficiencies of those ways of knowing.
  • Have an appreciation for ways of thinking that may differ from his or her own.
  • Have a better understanding of the nature of the Humanities and some of its various disciplines.
  • Understand how to read and analyze texts for what they say, without preconceptions as to what they "mean."
  • Have a better appreciation of how major texts in the Humanities both reflect and shape our understanding of ourselves.
  • Have a high degree of skill in conveying your analyses through written essays and online discussions. 
Prerequisites & Co-requisites:


Course Topics:

Course topics will be listed in the course calendar and in the content modules.  

Specific Course Requirements:

In order to locate class materials and complete the assignments, you will need to know how to use the Internet, navigate D2L, use email, and use a word processor. 

Textbooks, Supplementary Materials, Hardware and Software Requirements

Required Textbooks:

Please visit the Virtual Bookstore to obtain textbook information for this course. Move your cursor over the "Books" link in the navigation bar and select "Textbooks & Course Materials." Select your Program, Term, Department, and Course; then select "Submit."

Supplementary Materials:


Hardware and Software Requirements:

Minimum hardware requirements can be found here.

Minimum software requirements can be found here.

Common applications you might need:

Web Resources:

Purdue OWL Online Writing Lab (for APA, MLA, or Chicago style)

The Writing Center Online Writer's Handbook

Student Resources:
  • Technical support information can be found on the TN eCampus Help Desk page.
  • Smarthinking virtual tutoring is available FREE of charge. to access Smarthinking, visit the course homepage and select Smarthinking under Course Resources. You also view sample sessions to see what Smarthinking offers and how it works.
  • Information on other student issues or concerns can be located on the TN eCampus Student Resources page.

Instructor Information

Please see "Instructor Information" in the Getting Started Module for instructor contact information, virtual office hours, and other communication information. You can expect to receive a response from the instructor within 24-48 hours unless notified of extenuating circumstances.

Participation, Assessments, & Grading

Testing Procedures:

Testing procedures are described more fully below, in the section Reflective Essay Exams. All three exams are essay format and open book. The dates will be specified in the course calendar. Create your exams in Rich Text Format, Microsoft Word format, Corel WordPerfect format, or as text, and post them in the dropbox by the due date. 

Grading Procedures:

Study Guides:

To help you with your reading, the course includes a study guide for each of the assigned texts. Each guide will seek to introduce the reading by providing some historical background. It will also try to draw your attention to particular issues and problems to watch out for when reading the assigned text. It will be important to focus on the major arguments and themes in the reading and not get too bogged down in specific detail. You should also keep the overall course theme in mind and try to relate each reading to the larger subject matter of the course. The Study Guide will also contain a set of questions for each reading. Some of these will be labeled "Study Questions" and some "Discussion Questions."

Study Questions:

For some guides there will be Study Questions. These will be specific questions about different aspects of each reading and are designed to allow both you and your instructor to see how well you understanding the material. There will be two sets of study questions for each of the three sections of the course--faith, reason, and imagination--or six sets in all. For each set you are to answer three of the questions, any three you choose. Your answers, while essay in format, can be relatively brief, something on the order of a paragraph per question. They should be prepared using a word-processing program and sent to the dropbox. The due dates for these assignments are clearly marked on the course calendar. Answers sent in late will be penalized by a reduction in grade for that particular assignment. In calculating your final grade, your lowest grade on the 6 sets of answers will be dropped and the other five averaged to total 20% of your overall grade.

Discussion Questions:

For some guides there will be Discussion Questions. You will not be required to formally answer any of these discussion questions. However, you may wish to address one or more of them as one way of participating in the required electronic class discussions. Discussion Questions will be more general than the Study Questions. They will seek to stimulate your thinking about some of the major questions raised by a particular reading and thereby perhaps help guide your reading.

There will be six on-line discussions, two for each of the main sections of the course. These discussions will be conducted on the Discussion Board at the times noted in the course calendar. All students are expected to participate in these discussions and the instructor may choose to join them as well.

One way of entering these discussions is by addressing the discussion questions mentioned above. But you should also feel free to comment on some other aspect of the reading or simply raise a question of your own.

You are encouraged to respond to the questions and comments of your fellow students. One venerable way of learning in the Humanities is by exchanging ideas with others. You may have an insight into the readings that the rest of us missed or someone else may see a flaw in your reasoning that you had not recognized. Since there are no simple right or wrong answers in this course, it is certainly permissible to present your opinions, though it is always helpful to provide some support for such opinions. But such "support" can hardly be expected to reach the level of "proof", so don't be afraid to put forth opinions of which you yourself are not entirely certain. Such opinions may stimulate the thinking of others and lead to a more productive discussion.

The times for these discussions are noted in the course calendar. But you don't have to wait until the official date on the calendar to send in a reaction to a particular reading. If you happen to get ahead in your reading or if a particular point strikes you in the middle of your reading, feel free to send a comment to the electronic discussion site.

Your contribution to each discussion will be graded. The lowest grade will be dropped and the average of the other five will count 20% of your overall final grade.

Reflective Essay Exams:

You will be required to write three reflective examinations, one for each of the three main sections of the course. These examinations will seek to test your understanding of the material covered in each section, by giving you the opportunity to reflect on the major themes and questions raised by your readings. You should expect to write somewhere around 1000 to 1500 words for each of these exams. The due dates are marked on your course calendar. The examinations should be prepared using a word-processing program and sent to the dropbox. Each exam will count 20% of your total course grade. 

Grading Scale:

Students enrolled this course will be evaluated in the following manner: 

Assignment#PointsTotal Points% of Final Grade
Average of grades on Study Questions6100 pts. ea.60020%
Average of grades on Discussion Questions13100 pts. ea.1,30020%
First Reflective Essay Exam1100 pts.10020%
Second Reflective Essay Exam1100 pts.10020%
Third Reflective Essay Exam1100 pts.10020%
Total   100%

Less than 60% -- F
60% range -- D
70% range -- C
80% range -- B
90% range -- A 

Assignments and Projects:

A sequenced list of assignments will be provided in the course calendar. 

Class Participation:

Students must participate actively in the discussion board and may participate in one of the chat rooms. Students must check the course homepage and discussion board frequently for announcements.

Late Policy:

Students need to check the course calendar frequently so that they are aware of the dates for all assignments. Although online courses allow students to work at times of their own choosing, there are due dates, and students are expected to complete all assignments by the due dates. 

Course Ground Rules

The following two statements (1., 2.) were derived from the TBR System-wide Student Rules document, released January 2012:


Read the document in its entirety here.

1. Standards of Conduct:

  • Students are required to adhere to the same professional, legal and ethical standards of conduct online as on campus. In addition, students should conform to generally accepted standards of "netiquette" while sending e-mail, posting comments to the discussion board, and while participating in other means of communicating online. Specifically, students should refrain from inappropriate and/or offensive language, comments and actions.

2. Review the TN eCampus Academic Integrity/Academic Honesty Policy:

  • In their academic activities, students are expected to maintain high standards of honesty and integrity. Academic dishonesty is prohibited.

Such conduct includes, but is not limited to:

  • an attempt by one or more students to use unauthorized information in the taking of an exam
  • to submit as one's own work, themes, reports, drawings, laboratory notes, computer programs, or other products prepared by another person,
  • or to knowingly assist another student in obtaining or using unauthorized materials.

Plagiarism, cheating, and other forms of academic dishonesty are prohibited.

Students guilty of academic misconduct, either directly or indirectly through participation or assistance, are subject to disciplinary action through the regular procedures of the student’s home institution.  Refer to the student handbook provided by your home institution to review the student conduct policy.

In addition to other possible disciplinary sanctions that may be imposed, the instructor has the authority to assign an "F" or zero for an activity or to assign an "F" for the course.

Other Course Rules:

Students are expected to:

  • Participate in all aspects of the course
  • Communicate with other students
  • Learn how to navigate in Brightspace
  • Keep abreast of course announcements
  • Use the assigned course management (Brightspace) email address rather than a personal email address
  • Address technical problems immediately:
  • Observe course netiquette at all times.

Guidelines for Communications


  • Always include a subject line.
  • Remember without facial expressions some comments may be taken the wrong way. Be careful in wording your emails. Use of emoticons might be helpful in some cases.
  • Use standard fonts.
  • Do not send large attachments without permission.
  • Special formatting such as centering, audio messages, tables, html, etc. should be avoided unless necessary to complete an assignment or other communication.
  • Respect the privacy of other class members


  • Review the discussion threads thoroughly before entering the discussion. Be a lurker then a discussant.
  • Try to maintain threads by using the "Reply" button rather starting a new topic.
  • Do not make insulting or inflammatory statements to other members of the discussion group. Be respectful of other’s ideas.
  • Be patient and read the comments of other group members thoroughly before entering your remarks.
  • Be cooperative with group leaders in completing assigned tasks.
  • Be positive and constructive in group discussions.
  • Respond in a thoughtful and timely manner.


The Tennessee Virtual Library is available to all students enrolled in TN eCampus programs and courses. Links to library materials (such as electronic journals, databases, interlibrary loans, digital reserves, dictionaries, encyclopedias, maps, and librarian support) and Internet resources needed by learners to complete online assignments and as background reading will be included within the course modules. To access the Virtual Library, go to the course homepage and select the Virtual Library link under Course Resources.

Students with Disabilities

Qualified students with disabilities will be provided reasonable and necessary academic accommodations if determined eligible by the appropriate disability services staff at their home institution. Prior to granting disability accommodations in this course, the instructor must receive written verification of a student's eligibility for specific accommodations from the disability services staff at the home institution. It is the student's responsibility to initiate contact with their home institution's disability services staff and to follow the established procedures for having the accommodation notice sent to the instructor.

Syllabus Changes

The instructor reserves the right to make changes as necessary to this syllabus. If changes are necessitated during the term of the course, the instructor will immediately notify students of such changes both by individual email communication and posting both notification and nature of change(s) on the course bulletin board.


The information contained in this syllabus is for general information purposes only. While we endeavor to keep this information up-to-date and accurate, there may be some discrepancies between this syllabus and the one found in your online course. The syllabus of record is the one found in your online course. Please make sure you read the syllabus in your course at the beginning of the semester. Questions regarding course content should be directed to your instructor.

Last Revised on April 28, 2017