Fred Glennon, Ph.D. (Courses)
Professor (RH 216)
Department of Religious Studies
Le Moyne College
Syracuse, New York 13214

REL 336

Click here for online class

Comparative Religious Ethics and Social Concerns

Spring 2016 RH 338 MW 9:30-10:45 (Section 01); 1:00-2:15 (Section 02)   e-mail:


Course Description and Objectives

Methods of Instruction


Office Hours

Student Responsibilities and Rights


Learning Covenant Guidelines

Activity Options

Course Reading and Assignment Schedule (Spring 2016)

Course Related Web Sites

Mission Statement:  Le Moyne College is a diverse learning community that strives for academic excellence in the Catholic and Jesuit tradition through its comprehensive programs rooted in the liberal arts and sciences. Its emphasis is on education of the whole person and on the search for meaning and value as integral parts of the intellectual life. Le Moyne College seeks to prepare its members for leadership and service in their personal and professional lives to promote a more just society.


Course Description and Objectives: This course is a study in comparative religious social ethics. The course will guide students through the ethical perspectives that religious traditions have developed and are developing on four social issues facing our world: the construction of  sexuality and gender (including views on contraception, abortion, homosexuality, marriage, and family), social justice (including discussions of work, wealth and poverty, and the global economy), violence (including discussions of violence against women, capital punishment, war, and terrorism), and the environment (including views on ecological crises and attitudes toward the non-human world). We will look at these social issues from the perspective of western, eastern, and indigenous religious traditions.  Dependent upon student interest and input, other traditions can be substituted or added. Since all ethical constructs emerge in context, we will explore the worldviews of each religious tradition to help us make sense of the ethical positions they advocate. We will also compare how each tradition looks at the issues in question and note differences and similarities. To this point our efforts will be descriptive and analytical. The final section of the course will be more constructive: we will focus on the possibility for genuine dialogue across traditions to see if some substantive, although "thin" ethic of compassion emerges that can provide common ground to address these social concerns. By the end of this course, students will be able to:

  1. discuss clearly the elements of a social ethic (knowledge/comprehension);
  2. develop their critical and analytical thinking skills through case analysis (synthesis/application);
  3. make clearer and stronger moral arguments (procedural/application)
  4. understand and appreciate how different religious worldviews lead to different ethical judgments on various social issues (comprehension/affective);
  5. clarify and develop further their own ethical perspective on at least one social issue that draws on the strengths of several religious traditions (synthesis/application);
  6. work cooperatively with others on various tasks in a group context (affective); and
  7. take an active role in and responsibility for their learning by constructing and successfully completing a learning covenant (affective).

Methods of Instruction: The content of the course will be covered by lectures, group discussions and presentations, audio-visual presentations, structured reading and writing assignments, and other media depending upon student interest and involvement.

Texts and Other Readings: The following required texts are available in the bookstore:

  • Christine Gudorf, Comparative Religious Ethics (Fortress Press, 2013).  
  • Karen Armstrong, Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life (Anchor Press, 2011).

In addition to the above, I will also distribute in class, provide links to web pages, and place on electronic reserve other required readings for the course. Reference is made to them in the course schedule.

Office Hours: I will be in my office at the following times: M 2:15-3:30, W 10:15-12:00.  If these times are not convenient, see me to make other arrangements. Come by if you have any questions related to the course.

Student Responsibilities and Rights: Students have the responsibility for sharing in and contributing to the learning process. This responsibility includes developing a learning covenant (see attached), reading assigned material prior to class, participating actively in group process, class presentations and discussions, completing written assignments on time, and evaluating and suggesting positive directions for the class. In fulfilling these responsibilities, the student has certain rights. These include a right to voice an opinion that is based on a self-chosen value system, a right to dissent or differ from the professor or from others in the class, a right to graded activities returned at a reasonable time, access to the professor at hours other than class time, and a right to know the grading system.

Evaluation: Student evaluations will be based on successful completion of assigned and self-chosen activities. The assigned activities include group participation (75-100 points), case analyses (2 at 50 points each), and a group ethical reflection (75-100 points). The remaining 200-250 points of the student's grade will be determined on the basis of the student's learning objectives and the completion of learning activities to meet them (see attached learning covenant and activity options). The grading scale will be as follows:

For College grading policies, including grievance policies for grades, please refer to the College Catalog, pp 10-11.

Course Grading Scale




















































Canvas: The bulk of the materials and assignments for this course will be distributed through the use of Canvas at Le Moyne. To access these materials, just point your Internet browser to The course will be listed under Spring 2016, REL336-01(or 02)-SP16, Comparative Religious Ethics and Social Concerns. Students who are enrolled in the course already have access to the course and just need to register their password for the course. I will use the email given to you by the school (your Le Moyne account) as the official means to communicate with you.

Tentative Course and Reading Schedule: The daily class schedule can be accessed online through the link above or here). Students should consult the file frequently in order to be apprised of any changes in the schedule. All changes made by the instructor in this file will be considered official. 

Learning Covenant and Activity Options: Also under Learning Covenant module on Canvas, you will find two files related to the Learning Covenant Guidelines and Activity Options. These files describe the teaching philosophy and approach to this class and the various ways student can be evaluated.

Special Needs: In coordination with the Academic Support Center  (ASC), located on the first floor of the Noreen Reale Falcone Library, reasonable accommodations are provided for qualified students with disabilities. Qualified students should register with Mr. Roger Purdy,(, Director of Disability Support Services (445-4118 [voice] or 445-4104 [TDD]), for disability verification and determination of reasonable accommodations. After receiving the appropriate form from the ASC, students should meet with the instructor to review the form and discuss their needs. Students should make every attempt to meet with the instructor during the first week of class so that accommodations can be implemented in a timely manner.

Students with Personal Problems: Students who encounter personal problems of any kind, especially problems that might affect their academic performance, are encouraged to contact the Wellness Center for Health and Counseling. The Center is located in Romero Hall; appointments may be arranged by phone at 445-4195. The Center provides both individual and group counseling on a strictly confidential basis. The professional staff is also available on an emergency basis.


Policy on Academic Honesty:  Academic dishonesty (plagiarism, cheating) undermines the trust between instructors and students and among students themselves.  Such dishonesty is the attempt to fulfill a course requirement by representing as your own the intellectual property (ideas, words, or work) of another person (living or dead; professional writer or student) found in print or electronic sources, even with the personís permission. Please note that this definition includes paraphrasing anotherís work: if you read it somewhere, cite it.  As a member of an intellectual and academic community, you are obliged to acknowledge the source of phrases and ideas that are original to someone else.  The minimum penalty is failure of the assignment but could lead to failure of the course.  In addition, I will report the incident to the Dean of Arts and Sciences who may decide to take further disciplinary action.  A second act of academic dishonesty during your career at Le Moyne often results in expulsion from the college (College Catalog, p. 41). You may access the LeMoyne site on plagiarism at:  The Landmark Citation Machine is an excellent resource for students.  This website will format any type of citation into MLA or APA style.