Course Syllabus

  • General Information
    • Professor Information

      Professor Photo
      Professor Erin Weston
      Office Hours:
      By appointment
      Use Canvas messages

      Course Description And Purpose

      This course has been developed by the faculty of the Department of Religious Studies, with each professor lecturing on meditation and mysticism in his or her area of religious specialization. The course will examine meditation and mysticism within each of the major world religions, as well as within some indigenous religions. Each module consists of PowerPoint lectures by faculty, readings, a weekly quiz, brief weekly assignments, and two exams, each consisting of multiple choice questions and an essay portion.

      Course Objectives

      Students will be able to:

      • Explain the basic history, development, and belief system of various religious traditions.
      • Recognize religious themes and concepts found in other cultures.
      • Identify the meaning behind religious concepts and symbols.
      • Apply critical thinking to various topics in the field of religious studies.
      • Think creatively about religious issues in the contemporary world.
      • Perform field research to better understand a particular religious community.
  • Important Information
      • Policies

        Please review the FIU's Policies webpage. The policies webpage contains essential information regarding guidelines relevant to all courses at FIU, as well as additional information about acceptable netiquette for online courses.

        Technical Requirements & Skills

        One of the greatest barriers to taking an online course is a lack of basic computer literacy. By computer literacy we mean being able to manage and organize computer files efficiently, and learning to use your computer's operating system and software quickly and easily. Keep in mind that this is not a computer literacy course; but students enrolled in online courses are expected to have moderate proficiency using a computer. Please go to the "What's Required" webpage to find out more information on this subject.

        Please visit our Technical Requirements webpage for additional information.

        Accessibility And Accommodation

        The Disability Resource Center collaborates with students, faculty, staff, and community members to create diverse learning environments that are usable, equitable, inclusive and sustainable. The DRC provides FIU students with disabilities the necessary support to successfully complete their education and participate in activities available to all students. If you have a diagnosed disability and plan to utilize academic accommodations, please contact the Center at 305-348-3532 or visit them at the Graham Center GC 190.

        Please visit our ADA Compliance webpage for information about accessibility involving the tools used in this course.

        Please visit Canvas's Commitment Accessibility webpage for more information. 

        For additional assistance please contact FIU's Disability Resource Center.

        Panthers Care & Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS)

        If you are looking for help for yourself or a fellow classmate, Panthers Care encourages you to express any concerns you may come across as it relates to any personal behavior concerns or worries you have, for the classmate’s well-being or yours; you are encouraged to share your concerns with FIU’s Panthers Care website.

        Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) offers free and confidential help for anxiety, depression, stress, and other concerns that life brings. Professional counselors are available for same-day appointments. Don’t wait to call 305-348-2277 to set up a time to talk or visit the online self-help portal.

        Academic Misconduct Statement

        Florida International University is a community dedicated to generating and imparting knowledge through excellent teaching and research, the rigorous and respectful exchange of ideas and community service. All students should respect the right of others to have an equitable opportunity to learn and honestly to demonstrate the quality of their learning. Therefore, all students are expected to adhere to a standard of academic conduct, which demonstrates respect for themselves, their fellow students, and the educational mission of the University. All students are deemed by the University to understand that if they are found responsible for academic misconduct, they will be subject to the Academic Misconduct procedures and sanctions, as outlined in the Student Handbook.

        Academic Misconduct includes: Cheating – The unauthorized use of books, notes, aids, electronic sources; or assistance from another person with respect to examinations, course assignments, field service reports, class recitations; or the unauthorized possession of examination papers or course materials, whether originally authorized or not. Plagiarism – The use and appropriation of another’s work without any indication of the source and the representation of such work as the student’s own. Any student who fails to give credit for ideas, expressions or materials taken from another source, including internet sources, is responsible for plagiarism.

        Learn more about the academic integrity policies and procedures as well as student resources that can help you prepare for a successful semester.

        Course Prerequisites

        This course does not require prerequisites.

        Expectations Of This Course

        This is an online course, which means most (if not all) of the course work will be conducted online. Expectations for performance in an online course are the same for a traditional course. In fact, online courses require a degree of self-motivation, self-discipline, and technology skills which can make these courses more demanding for some students.

        Students are expected to:

        • Review the how to get started information located in the course content
        • Introduce yourself to the class during the first week by posting a self introduction in the appropriate discussion forum
        • Take the practice quiz to ensure that your computer is compatible with Canvas
        • Interact online with instructor/s and peers
        • Review and follow the course calendar


        Textbook Image


        Mysticism: Holiness East and West




        Denise Carmody and John Carmody

        Oxford University Press, 1996

        ISBN-10: 0195088190

        ISBN-13: 978-0195088199


        You may purchase your textbook online at the FIU Bookstore.



  • Course Detail

      Course Communication

      Communication in this course will take place via Messages.

      Messages is a private and secure text-based communication system which occurs within a course among its Course members. Users must log on to Canvas to send, receive, or read messages. The Messages tool is located on the Course Menu, on the left side of the course webpage. It is recommended that students check their messages routinely to ensure up-to-date communication. 

      Visit our Writing Resources webpage for more information on professional writing and technical communication skills.


      In order to mitigate any issues with your computer and online assessments, it is very important that you take the "Practice Quiz" from each computer you will be using to take your graded quizzes and exams. It is your responsibility to make sure your computer meets the minimum hardware requirements.

      Assessments in this course are not compatible with mobile devices and should not be taken through a mobile phone or a tablet. If you need further assistance please contact FIU Online Support Services.


      • A weekly time-restricted, online quiz will be given based on the materials covered each week. You can take each quiz two times, and the higher of the two attempts will be recorded. Even if you do well on the first attempt, it is advisable to use both attempts. You will not receive the same quiz every time; the computer randomly chooses the questions from a quiz database. The objective questions in Exam 1 and Exam 2 will be taken directly from this database. Thus, the more times you take the quiz, the more questions you will receive and the better prepared you will be for the exams.
      • For the quizzes, you will have 20 minutes to complete the questions. Each quiz will be open from Monday to Monday and you can take it on any of those days at any time.
      • Important Policy on Quiz Resets: Quiz resets will not be granted. You will receive two attempts to complete each quiz, if you are logged offline or you have technical failure while attempting the quiz, then you still have the second attempt to complete the quiz.
      • Resetting quizzes after they have passed will require a serious and verifiable reason (death in the family, hospitalization, serious accident, etc.).
      • If you know that you will be unable to take a quiz during a specific week, contact the instructor in advance, and the quiz may be opened so you may take it early. It is the responsibility of students to keep up with the readings and take the quizzes on time.


      • Exam 1 and Exam 2 consist of both objective and essay portions. The objective portions of Exam 1 and Exam 2 are both online, time-restricted examinations. They are in the Assessments area. Students  have only one attempt to complete the objective portions of the Exam 1 and Exam 2 unlike the quizzes. Please make note of this important difference.
      • The essay topics for the exams will become available in the Assessment area during the exam availability time. The essay portions of these exams must be submitted to via Canvas (you do not need to register separately with Review the detailed Turnitin Instructions on how to submit your assignments and how to review the Grademark comments (feedback) from your professor. Please see the folder under Course Content labeled "Assignment Dropbox" for links.
      • The essays for Exam 1 and Exam 2 should each be approximately 500-750 words long.


      Plagiarism will not be tolerated. Plagiarism, or attempting to pass off another's work as your own, falls into three different categories:

      1. A written work that is entirely stolen from another source;
      2. Using quotations from another source without properly citing them; and
      3. Paraphrasing from another source without proper citations.

      Students are expected to understand the definition of plagiarism. See the University Code of Academic Integrity if you need further clarification. Offenders will receive a grade of F for the plagiarized assignment, and possibly the course.


      Group Wiki Instuctions

      Students will write up short summaries (at least 250 words). In addition to student written summaries, your wikis should also include: links to articles and websites, images, infographics, videos, or other relevant visual aids on your group pages. Please review the wiki rubric for a more complete idea of the required elements for a successful wiki page. 

      Your project is only as good as your resources. You need to make sure that you use reliable resources, especially online. There is a lot of misinformation out there! Look for official websites, government websites, academic articles, and legitimate newspaper articles


      The wiki tool allows the professor the ability to see each students contributions to the group wiki.  Group members are encouraged to equally contribute content to the wiki, as group participation will be factored into your final grade.

      Furthermore, students will have the abiltiy to evaluate their group members and their own contributions to the final project utilizing a iPeer evaluation tool.  This group evaluation assignment is worth 50% of the wiki total grade and must be completed by the wiki due date.

      Weekly Blogs

      Blogs are an open communications tool for students to share their thoughts. Here you can post text, images, links and attachments, open for comments.

      The topics will be posted in "Discussions" folder in the Course Content. Students must post well thought-out comments based on the required work throughout the semester. Participation is required. Both the quantity and the quality of your posts will contribute to your grade. Please see the sample blogs and blog rubric to review the expected components. All students are required to participate in all of the topics (at least 200 words). Blogs must be posted during the period they are assigned and are due by 11:59 pm on the Monday after the end of the lesson.

      Once you have composed your original posting, take some time to carefully review other postings within your discussion group. Pick two that are most interesting to you and provide meaningful, detailed, and constructive feedback.

      Keep in mind that your discussion forum postings will likely be seen by other members of the course. Care should be taken when determining what to post.

      Keep electronic and paper copies of all written work. For your own protection, keep a copy of your electronic receipt (confirmation of assignment submission) until you have received your final grade for the course.

      Late work will not be accepted


      Course Requirements Number of Items Points for Each Weight
      Midterm Exam
      (Objective - 70 points and Essay - 30 points)
      1 100 25%
      Final Exam
      (Objective - 70 points and Essay - 30 points)
      1 100 25%
      Quizzes 13 100 15%
      Metacognitive Assignments 2 100 3%
      Group Wiki Project/iPeer 1 100 12%
      Blogs 12 10 20%
      Extra Credit Assignment 1 1 1%
      Total 31 521 101%


      Letter Range (%) Letter Range (%) Letter Range (%)
      A 95 or above B 83 - 86 C 70 - 76
      A- 90 - 94 B- 80 - 82 D 60 - 69
      B+ 87 - 89 C+ 77 - 79 F 59 or less


  • Course Calendar
    • Weekly Calendar

      Date Tasks
      Lesson 1
      January 6th- 13th

      Topic: Introduction to Meditation and Mysticism in World Religions


      • Mysticism: Holiness East and West, Chapter 1


      • Dr. Northup: Introduction to Meditation and Mysticism (all presentations are found under PowerPoints in Course Content)
      Lesson 2
      January 13th- 20th

      Topic: Introduction to Meditation and Mysticism in World Religions (Continued)


      • Nancy Murphy, "Whatever happened to the Soul?" in Course Content
      • James Ashbrook and Carol Rausch Albright, "The Humanizing Brain: An Introduction," Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science: vol. 34, no. 1, March, 1999, pages 7-43 In Course Content


      • Dr. Huchingson: The Hardware of Mysticism


      • Quiz 1: Introduction Available from Monday to Monday
      • Introduce Yourself Blog
      Lesson 3
      January 20th-27th

      Topic: Mysticism in African and Afro-Caribbean Religions


      • Dominique Zahan, "Reflections on African Spirituality" (in Course Content)
      • Leslie Desmangles, The Faces of the Gods, pp. 99-115. Full text available through Netlibrary.
      • Mary Ann Clark, Santería: Correcting the Myths and Uncovering the Realities of a Growing Religion, chapter 7. Full text available through Netlibrary.


      • Dr. Rey: Mysticism in Africa and the Afro-Caribbean


      • Quiz 2: African and Afro-Caribbean Religions Available from Monday to Monday
      • Blog 1: Mysticism and Meditation
      Lesson 4
      January 27th- February 3rd

      Topic: Meditation and Mysticism among Native Americans


      • Mysticism: Holiness East and West, Chapter 8
      • William A. Young, Quest for Harmony: Native American Spiritual Traditions, chapters 1, 4, 5. Full text available through Netlibrary.


      • Dr. Huchingson: Meditation and Mysticism Among Native Americans, I & II.


      • Quiz 3: Native Americans Available from Monday to Monday
      • Blog 2: Finding Silence
      Lesson 5
      February 3rd-10th

      Topic: Meditation and Mysticism in Indian Religions


      • Mysticism: Holiness East and West, Chapter 2


      • Dr. Katz: Meditation and Mysticism in Theistic Hinduism, I-III


      • Quiz 4: Indian Religions Available from Monday to Monday
      • Blog 3: Mindfulness
      Lesson 6
      February 10th-17th

      Topic: Meditation and Mysticism in Daoism and Chinese Religions


      • Mysticism: Holiness East and West, Chapter 4


      • Dr. Heine: Meditation and Mysticism in Chinese Religions


      • Quiz 5: Daoism and Chinese Religions Available from Monday to Monday
      • Blog 4: Dynamic Meditation
      Lesson 7
      February 17th-24th

      Topic: Meditation and Mysticism in Buddhism / Zen Buddhism


      • Mysticism: Holiness East and West, Chapter 3


      • Dr. Heine: Intro to Meditation and Mysticism in Buddhism, Meditation and Mysticism in Zen


      • Quiz 6: Buddhism/Zen Buddhism Available from Monday to Monday
      • Blog 5: Beholding the Divine in Art

      Midterm Exam
      February 24th- ​March 2nd

      Spring Break

      Midterm Exam

      • Objective and Essay Available under Assessments
      • Midterm Exam: Available from Monday to Monday
      Lesson 8
      March 2nd-9th

      Topic: Mysticism in Judaism and Sephardic Judaism


      • Mysticism: Holiness East and West, Chapter 5


      • Dr. Zohar: Mysticism in Judaism and Sephardic Judaism


      • Quiz 7: Judaism and Sephardic Judaism Available from Monday to Monday
      • Midterm Metacognitive Assignment
      Lesson 9
      March 9th-16th

      Topic: Mysticism in Hasidic Judaism


      • 15 short "Additional Essays on Hasidism" by Immy Humes, which can be found here.
      • These essays supplement the highly recommended documentary, "A Life Apart" (see here).

      Note: There is one error in the readings: In the essay titled "Inside the Community: A Holy Life," the author translates the Hebrew acronym for Chabad as "Wisdom, Learning, and Faith."The acronym actually stands for "Wisdom, Knowledge, and Understanding." Please make a note of this.


      • Dr. Stier: Hasidic Judaism


      • Quiz 8: Hasidic Judaism Available from Monday to Monday
      • Blog 6: Deep Listening
      Lesson 10
      March 16th-23rd

      Topic: Meditation and Mysticism in Early Christianity


      • Mysticism: Holiness East and West, Chapter 6
      • Gregory of Nyssa, Homily 6, On the Beatitudes (pp. 90-91). Full text available through Netlibrary.


      • Dr. Larson: Mysticism in Early Christianity, I & II


      • Quiz 9: Christianity Available from Monday to Monday
      • Blog 7: Encountering the Divine in Scripture
      Lesson 11
      March 23rd-30th

      Topic: Mysticism in Catholicism


      • Julian of Norwich, Revelations of Divine Love (pp. 25-42). Full text available through Netlibrary.


      • Dr. Gudorf:, Meditation and Mysticism in Catholicism


      • Quiz 10: Catholicism Available from Monday to Monday
      • Blog 8: "Just Like Me" Exercise
      Lesson 12
      March 30th - April 6th

      Topic: Mysticism in Protestantism


      • Jonathan Edwards, A Divine and Supernatural Light, pp. 439-451.


      • Prof. Alvarez: Mysticism in Protestantism


      • Quiz 11: Protestantism Available from Monday to Monday
      • Blog 9: Choosing Kindness
      Lesson 13
      April 6th-13th

      Topic: Meditation and Mysticism in Islam


      • Mysticism: Holiness East and West, Chapter 7
      • "What is Tasawwuf (Sufism)?" An Anonymous Persian Poem – translated by A. A. Godlas (available here)
      • "The Chapter on Dhikr" from at-Targhib wa at-Tarhib, by Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani , (available here)


      • Dr. Musa: Meditation and Mysticism in Islam


      • Quiz 12: Islam Available from Monday to Monday
      • Blog 10: An attitude of Gratitude
      • Pre-Final Metacognitive
      Lesson 14
      April 13th- 20th

      Topic: Mysticism in Emerging Nature Religions


      • Mary Tucker, Worldly Wonder, pp. 1-54


      • Dr. Bauman: Nature Mysticism


      • Quiz 13: Nature Religions Available from Monday to Monday
      • Blog 11: Synthesize Your Journey
      • Group Wiki Project
      Final Exam
      April 20th - 25th

      Exam 2

      • Take both parts: Objective and Essay Available under Assessments
      • Final Exam: Available Monday, April 20 12:00am –  April 25, 11:45pm

Course Summary:

Date Details Due