Intro to East Asian Religions


Dr. Girim Jung ( )

Communication Preferences:

Please contact the instructor via email. The Canvas messaging function is a less helpful way to reach your instructors, and I may be slower to respond to those messages, but I will eventually see them. If you start with my Iliff email, I am happy to set up a phone call or Zoom conversation or other means of connection if that is preferable.

Course Synopsis:

This course will explore the religious and philosophical traditions of East Asia – including Buddhism, Daoism, Confucianism, and local folk and shamanistic traditions. Relationships between different traditions and hybrid formations will also be examined. The course is structured to offer a historic survey of the traditions in China, Korea, and Japan. Topics include the teachings and practices of different traditions, and their effect on the social, economic, and political landscape of East Asia.

Intro Video:

Course Mechanics Video:

Helpful Links:

Required Purchases

Please purchase (or borrow from the library) the following:

Both texts (new) are quite expensive. I'd recommend that you purchase a used copy if you are budget sensitive. The Iliff an DU libraries have physical copies of these required textbooks as well, so I'd recommend that you make scans of it if you live in the Denver area, or to see if a local library in your area has a copy.

Other Readings

Excerpts from the following books/journals are available at the DU/Iliff library. Links to library database or PDFs will be provided.



Course Overview

Weekly Rhythm

Sunday, 11:59pm (Mountain): classroom discussion leader videos due.

Monday: professor posts video lecture for week, discussion leader videos, and discussion questions.

Wednesday, 11:59pm (Mountain): threaded scholarly discussion initial post due.

Friday, 11:59pm (Mountain): threaded scholarly discussion response post due.

Course Objectives

At the completion of class, students will be able to:

The sorting of all assignments can be found under the Assignments tab to the left of this page. Your final grade in the class will be calculated based on the following percentages:

Syllabus Quiz and Introduction Assignment (5%)

Students will take a syllabus quiz between the first and second weeks of the course that evaluates the student’s understanding of the course requirements.

Students will also be expected to complete a biographical introduction assignment to acquaint the instructor and classmate’s about their background, interest and prior knowledge of the subject area, and how the course relates to their vocational/academic aspirations.

Each component will be 2.5% of the final grade.

Threaded Scholarly Discussion (20%):

Students will engage weekly in a threaded scholarly discussion on Canvas. The assignment consists of two parts.

The first part requires the students to write a 300-500 word reflection on the week’s readings using the guiding questions provided on the forum. Students are required to (1) quote one passage from the reading, (2) pose one question, (3) and post directly into the forums (no attachments).

The second part requires students to read through the initial posts of their classmates and write one substantive 100-200 word response to any classmate’s post of their choosing. Examples of valid responses include (1) responding the question the classmate raised, (2) discuss whether you agree with their assessment of the topic, and (3) explain how your classmate’s post allowed you to view the topic or reading in a different way. Please make sure to type "Response" in bold for the response post you'd like me to grade.

Class Discussion Leadership (10%):

This assignment has been modified to fit the virtual format of the class.

Each student will lead class discussion on the assigned reading during the semester. Discussion leaders will prepare a brief (5-10 minute) video where you introduce the text that you signed up to lead discussion on.

Each video discussion should:

Please upload these by Sunday evenings (11:59pm Mountain Time) through the assignments submission page.

Participation (15%):

Students are expected to keep up with weekly readings and participate in our weekly discussions and biweekly Zoom check-ins. Participation grade will be assigned based on:

  1. Active engagement in the weekly discussions. (10%)
  2. Participation during our biweekly Zoom check-ins. (5%)

Abstract and Final Project (50%):

Students are given the option to either write a traditional term paper or a creative project to fulfill this requirement. Either option requires that the project addresses one of the East Asian religious traditions in relation to culture, history, society, and/or politics. A rubric will be provided for either option to help students understand the requirements and evaluation criteria.

Please see guidelines on how each option is understood below for both:

Term Paper:

Abstract: Each student will write an abstract on their paper topic of 300 words or less by week 6 of the course and post it on the Canvas forums. Students will read the abstracts and offer comments, questions, or suggestions. The instructor will also review the abstracts and indicate whether the paper topic is approved or requires further refinement for approval.

Term Paper: Students will write one term paper at ten to fifteen (10-15) pages that will analyze one of the selected East Asian religions in relation to culture, history, society, and/or politics.  Papers should include a grasp of issues and ideas being discussed, engagement of notable thinkers on the subject matter in question and a clear articulation of a well-supported point of view. Papers should be typed, double spaced, 12-point font, Times New Roman typeface, 1” (one-inch) margins using Chicago/Turabian bibliographic format, with footnotes in 10-point font; page number on bottom left hand corner; no cover sheet.

Creative Project:

Creative projects use alternative mediums to the academic paper to examine the various topics and themes explored in this course. Each creative project will be accompanied by a brief 5 page essay that analyzes/interprets the project to demonstrate understanding of East Asian religions and ability to compare different traditions through the various lenses we've used in the course.

Examples of creative projects include (but are not limited to):

Project Proposals of less than 300 words are due on Week 6 and posted for peer feedback on our Discussion Forums. The Final Project is due on the same date as the term paper.

Degree Learning Goals: Please take some time to look over the Professional Degree Learning Goals (Links to an external site.) (MDiv, MASC, MAPSC) and the Academic Degree Learning Goals (Links to an external site.) (MTS, MA).

Incompletes:  If incompletes are allowed in this course, see the Master's Student Handbook (Links to an external site.) for Policies and Procedures.

Pass/Fail:  Students wishing to take the class pass/fail should discuss this with the instructors by the second class session.

Academic Integrity and Community Covenant:  All students are expected to abide by Iliff’s statement on Academic Integrity, as published in the Masters Student Handbook (Links to an external site.), or the Joint PhD Statement on Academic Honesty, as published in the Joint PhD Student Handbook (Links to an external site.), as appropriate.  All participants in this class are expected to be familiar with Iliff’s Community Covenant (Links to an external site.).

Core Values: As a community, Iliff strives to live by this set of Core Values (Links to an external site.).

Accommodations:  Iliff engages in a collaborative effort with students with disabilities to reasonably accommodate student needs.   Students are encouraged to contact their assigned advisor to initiate the process of requesting accommodations.  The advising center can be contacted at or by phone at 303-765-1146. 

Writing Lab:  Grammar and organization are important for all written assignments.  Additional help is available from the Iliff Writing Lab (Links to an external site.), which is available for students of any level who need help beginning an assignment, organizing thoughts, or reviewing a final draft. 

Inclusive Language:  It is expected that all course participants will use inclusive language in speaking and writing, and will use terms that do not create barriers to classroom community. Inclusive language refers to language that refers to God and humanity in terms that are not solely male, language that deals with color in ways that does not foster racism (i.e. equating “black” with “evil”, “white” with “purity or goodness”), and sensory language (“paralyzed,” “deaf,” “blind”) in ways that does not equate persons with disabilities and evil.


Please prepare a brief (5-10 minute) video where you introduce the text that you signed up to lead discussion on.

Each video discussion should:

Please upload these by Sunday evenings (11:59pm Mountain Time) on Studio so that I can post it on the week's discussion forum for the class to engage.

Mar 24, 2021WedIntro Videodue by 05:59AM
Mar 25, 2021ThuWeek 1 Discussion: What are East Asian Religions? A Primer on Comparative Religiondue by 05:59AM
Mar 27, 2021SatWeek 1 Discussion, Pt. 2due by 05:59AM
Mar 29, 2021MonSyllabus Quizdue by 05:59AM
Mar 30, 2021TueFirst Zoom Meetingdue by 08:30PM
Apr 01, 2021ThuWeek 2 Discussion: Ancient Religious Originsdue by 05:59AM
Apr 03, 2021SatWeek 2 Discussion, Pt. 2due by 05:59AM
Apr 08, 2021ThuWeek 3 Discussion: Confucianismdue by 05:59AM
Apr 10, 2021SatWeek 3 Discussion, Pt. 2due by 05:59AM
Apr 13, 2021TueSecond Zoom Meetingdue by 08:30PM
Apr 15, 2021ThuWeek 4 Discussion: Legalism, Mohism and Daoism Pt. 1due by 05:59AM
Apr 17, 2021SatWeek 4 Discussion, Pt. 2due by 05:59AM
Apr 22, 2021ThuWeek 5 Discussion: Daoism Pt. 2due by 05:59AM
Apr 24, 2021SatWeek 5 Discussion, Pt. 2due by 05:59AM
Apr 27, 2021TueThird Zoom Meetingdue by 08:30PM
Apr 29, 2021ThuProject Proposaldue by 05:59AM
Apr 29, 2021ThuWeek 6 Discussion: Buddhism Pt. 1due by 05:59AM
May 01, 2021SatWeek 6 Discussion, Pt. 2due by 05:59AM
May 03, 2021MonProject Proposal Peer Feedbackdue by 05:59AM
May 06, 2021ThuWeek 7 Discussion: Buddhism Pt. 2due by 05:59AM
May 08, 2021SatWeek 7 Discussion, Pt. 2due by 05:59AM
May 11, 2021TueFourth Zoom Meetingdue by 08:30PM
May 13, 2021ThuWeek 8 Discussion: Korean Religious Historydue by 05:59AM
May 15, 2021SatWeek 8 Discussion, Pt. 2due by 05:59AM
May 20, 2021ThuWeek 9 Discussion: Japanese Shintodue by 05:59AM
May 22, 2021SatWeek 9 Discussion, Pt. 2due by 05:59AM
May 24, 2021MonClass Discussion Leadershipdue by 05:59AM
May 25, 2021TueFinal Zoom Meetingdue by 08:30PM
May 27, 2021ThuWeek 10 Discussion: Modernity and New Religious Movementsdue by 05:59AM
May 29, 2021SatWeek 10 Discussion, Pt. 2due by 05:59AM
May 29, 2021SatClass Participationdue by 05:59AM
May 29, 2021SatFinal Projectdue by 05:59AM