General Information

Professor Information

Instructor Profile Picture


Erin Weston 


DM 322B
MMC Campus


Please use Canvas Messages


(305) 348-1329

Office Hours

By Appointment

Course Description and Purpose

This course is a general introduction to Buddhism historically and philosophically.  Students will explore the main tenets, symbols, and practices of Buddhism from its time of origin until today. The course will examine the central themes of the main schools of Buddhism developed in India, Tibet, China, Japan, and Korea. The themes will be evaluated from religious, historical, and philosophical points of view.

Course Objectives

Students will be able to:

  • Identify the core principles of Buddhism
  • Describe the basic Buddhist worldview
  • Summarize the historical development of Buddhism
  • Explain regional and national variations in Buddhist philosophy and practice
  • Differentiate between the various Buddhist schools of thought
  • Analyze Buddhist symbols in rituals, art, architecture, and other aspects of culture

Global Learning Course Outcomes 

Students will be able to:

  • Global Awareness: Demonstrate knowledge of the interrelatedness of key Buddhist beliefs, practices, and symbols as expressed in multiple historical and regional contexts.
  • Global Perspective: Students will be able to analyze a contemporary issue via the analytical perspectives of diverse forms of Buddhism.
  • Global Engagement: Students will demonstrate an ability to engage critically with diverse forms of Buddhism in local, regional, national and international contexts. 

This is a Global Learning Discipline-Specific course that counts towards your Global Learning graduation requirement.

Course Awards

Quality Matters
This certification mark recognizes that this course met Quality Matters review standards.
Quality Matters
Affordability Counts
This course has been awarded the Affordability Counts Medallion. The Affordability Counts initiative at FIU seeks to make learning more affordable by reducing the cost of course materials to $60 or less. Find out more by visiting the Affordability Counts website at
Affordability Counts

Important Information


Please review the FIU's Policies and Netiquette 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.

 As a member of the FIU community you are expected to be knowledgeable about the behavioral expectations set forth in the FIU Student Code of Conduct.

Covid-19 Policies

Since this is an online course, some of FIU's policies will not impact us directly. The most important thing to note for our class is that if you are diagnosed with Covid-19, please let me know as soon as you can. If you are asymptomatic, you should be able to continue to complete your work as scheduled. If you are symptomatic, then please make sure to let me know as soon as possible. You will be able to make up your work with a positive Covid-19 test, but please note that some graded assignments may be given in an alternate format to maintain the integrity of the class content. We can work out the details on a case-by-case basis. Please stay safe. You can review more on the Covid-19 policies page.

You can contact me directly in the Canvas messages or at  Wishing you a good semester. Please stay healthy!

Technical Requirements and 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.

Privacy Policy Statements for partners and Vendors

Please visit our Technical Requirements webpage for additional information.

This course utilizes the following tools:

  1. YouTubeSelect this link in order to discover more information on how to navigate this tool

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.

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

Web Accessibility Statements for Partners and Vendors

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

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.

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.

Course Prerequisites

There are no prerequisites for this course.

Proctored Exam Policy

Please note that the information contained in this section applies only if your course requires a proctored exam.

Through a careful examination of this syllabus, it is the student’s responsibility to determine whether this online course requires proctored exams. Please visit our Student Proctored Exam Instructions. webpage for important information concerning proctored exams, proctoring centers, and important forms.

Textbook and Course Materials

title : 
authors : 
Kevin Trainor
publisher : 
Oxford University Press, USA, Dec-2003
publish date : 
isbn 10 : 
isbn 13 : 
notes : 
additional notes : 
Additional Notes
In this strikingly illustrated and authoritative volume, readers have an introduction to one of the world's greatest living faiths. 200 color photos, maps & drawings.
What the Buddha Taught
title : 
What the Buddha Taught
authors : 
Walpola Rāhula
publisher : 
Grove Press, Dec-1973
publish date : 
isbn 10 : 
isbn 13 : 
notes : 
additional notes : 
Additional Notes
Overview of Buddha's teachings.

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 video in the appropriate blog
  • 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

The instructor will:

  • Log in to the course at least 5 times per week
  • Respond to discussion boards, blogs and journal postings within 3 days or sooner
  • Respond to [emails/messages] within 3 days or sooner
  • Grade assignments within 2 weeks or sooner of the assignment deadline

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.

Discussion Forums

There will be five discussion topics. The topics will be posted on "Discussion Topics" folder in the Course Content. Students must post well thought-out comments based on the required work throughout the semester. Participation is required and represents 20% of your final grade. Both the quantity and the quality of your posts will contribute to your grade. All students are required to participate in all the five topics (at least 200 words). Discussions 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.


There will be one essay assigned throughout the semester, which is aimed at assisting in comprehension and retention of the ideas. This essay will be at least 1500 words long (6 pages double-spaced) and will be worth 20% of your grade. This is a formal academic essay and students must cite their sources. MLA is the preferred citation style in Religious Studies. There will three possible types of papers: historical analysis, contemporary applied analysis, or cultural anthropology/participant observation.

After completion of the paper, students will do a virtual presentation for the class. Class presentations may take a variety of forms, including: videos posted on to YouTube, or a PowerPoint, or a live Adobe Skype session. I am open to other possibilities, but you must obtain permission from me before proceeding. Students are expected to review their classmates' presentations.

Submission: Students must submit their essays to

Detailed information and grading rubric may be found within the Term Paper Guidelines folder. 

Late Papers: Late papers will only be accepted for the first 3 days after the due date and will be dropped one letter grade per day. Students are responsible for reading their messages and all announcements posted by the instructor. The instructor also reserves the right to make changes to the syllabus by means of announcements or messages with ample time allowed for students to respond and adjust appropriately.

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

A written work that is entirely stolen from another source;

  • Using quotations from another source without properly citing them; and
  • 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.

**Students may not submit work from a previous semester or from another class for this assignment or any other assignment in this course. It will be flagged for plagiarism by Turnitin.


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.


There will be ten online quizzes covering each section. Your quiz scores will be averaged together for a final quiz score worth 20% of your final grade. All quizzes consist of 10 questions (multiple choice, true/false and fill in the blank questions), and each question will be worth 10 points. A quiz will be available from Monday 12:00am till Monday 11:59pm of the given week. Once you open a quiz, you will have 20 minutes to complete and submit it. You will have two attempts to take a quiz. The highest score will be counted.

Note: Quiz resets will not be granted for technical issues. You will receive two attempts to complete each quiz, if you are logged offline or you have a 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.)

The correct answers for quizzes will not be released to students. Students will be able to see their submitted answers only. Students should refer to their course materials for the correct answers, in order to study for the midterm and final exams.

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.


There will be two exams based on the readings and materials covered throughout the course. Each exam will be worth 20% of your final grade. All exams consist of multiple choice, T/F, fill-in-the-blank, and short essay questions and each question will be worth 2 points. Exams must be taken during the availability period, unless you have made arrangements with the professor before the availability period ends. Once you open an exam, you will have 60 minutes to complete and submit it. You will have one attempt on exams. 

Note: Resetting exams after they have passed will require a serious and verifiable reason (death in the family, hospitalization, serious accident, etc.)

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.

Survey of Buddhism Library Guide 

This Survey of Buddhism Library Guide is especially tailored with resources meant to benefit this course. There are links to important Buddhist journals, websites, and videos. There are pages designed for each of the main content sections covered throughout the semester. There are also important library resources that will help you to do research for your assignments and make sure that you are properly citing your sources.  Please refer to this page often.

Course Requirements 

In addition to the completion of writing assignments, discussions, quizzes, and exams, a key requirement for successful completion of this course will be an open mind. Students are expected to exhibit respect to all religious traditions and peoples at all times. Thus, disrespectful or derisive commentary will not be tolerated in this course. Religion is, after all, a very personal and sensitive subject for many.

On the other hand, class participants can expect academic freedom to express their views. Although religion can be personal, this is an academic course taken for college credit and thus students are expected to examine the topics rigorously. Religion shall not be exempt from the scrutiny placed on any and all academic subjects.


Course Requirements
Number of Items
Points for Each
Total Points Available
Research Paper110010020%

Grading Schema

LetterRange (%)LetterRange (%)
LetterRange (%)
A95 or aboveB83 - 86C70 - 76
A-90 - 94B-80 - 82D60- 69
B+87-89C+77 - 79F59 or less

Course Calendar

Weekly Schedule

***The professor retains the right to make changes to the schedule and assignments until the beginning of the class. Please make sure to print an updated version at the beginning of the semester.


August 23 - August 30 

Course Introduction

  • Review and fully familiarize yourself with the course and site. Print and read the course syllabus and course calendar.
  • Obtain texts and read ahead for Part 1


  • 10 Misconceptions About Buddhism


  1. Student Introduction

Part 1 - Origins

August 30 - Sept. 7


  • PowerPoint: Origins of Buddhism


  • Chapter 1 – Ancient India
  • Chapter 2 – The Career of Siddhartha
  • Chapter 3 – A New Community
  • New Clues May Change Buddha’s Birth Date


  • Life of the Buddha (15 mins)
  • Crash Course: Indus Valley Civilization (12 mins) *Optional
  • Crash Course: Buddha & Ashoka  (12mins) * Optional
  • Timeline of India


  1. Quiz 1 – Origins of Buddhism -

Part 2 - Principles & Practice

September 6 - 20


  • PowerPoint: The Four Noble Truths


  • Chapter 1 – The Human Condition              
  • Chapter 2 – The “Four Noble Truths”
  • Rahula - Chapter 1 – The Buddhist Attitude of Mind
  • Rahula - Chapter 2 – The First Noble Truth
  • Rahula - Chapter 3 – The Second Noble Truth
  • Rahula - Chapter 4 – The Third Noble Truth
  • Rahula - Chapter 6 – The Doctrine of No Soul
  • Enlightenment Stories
    • Eckhart Tolle
    • Gangaji
    • Suzanne Segal


  • Buddhism Principles (15 mins)
  • Existential Bummer (3 mins)
  • The Life of the Buddha (50 mins)


  1. Discussion 1 
  2. Quiz 2 - Beliefs 

The Eightfold Path

September 20 - 27


  • PowerPoint: The Eightfold Path


  • Chapter 3 – The Path of the Buddha
  • Chapter 4 – Mental Cultivation
  • Rahula - Chapter 5 – The Fourth Noble Truth
  • Rahula - Chapter 7 – Meditation or Mental Culture
  • 9 Mindfulness Rituals to Make Your Day Better


  • Virtual Tour of Borobudur Temple in Java, Indonesia


  1.  Quiz 3 – The Eightfold Path 

The Buddhist Community

September 27 - October 4


  • PowerPoint: The Buddhist Community


  • Chapter 5 – The Buddhist Community
  • Chapter 6 – Buddhism in Practice
  • Rahula - Chapter 8 – What the Buddha Taught and the World Today


  • Virtual Tour of Kanheri Caves in Mumbai, India
  • Pilgrims at BoudhanathBoudhanath


  1. Quiz 4 – Community 

Introduction to Theravada Buddhism

October 4 - October 12
Extra day for Indigenous People's Day


  • PowerPoint: Introduction to Theravada Buddhism


  • Chapter 7 – Theravada Buddhism
  • How to Meditate 


  • Temple of the Tigers (50 mins)


  1. Quiz 5 - Theravada 

Introduction to Mahayana Buddhism

October 11 - 18


  • PowerPoint: Introduction to Mahayana Buddhism


  • Chapter 8 – Mahayana Buddhism
  • What is Compassion


  • Crash Course: Silk Road  (12 mins)


  1. Discussion 2 (Venn Diagram or Infographic) – Compare and Contrast Theravada and Mahayana Buddhism 
  2. Quiz 6 – Mahayana 


October 18 - 25


  1. Midterm Exam - Available Monday

Introduction to Zen Buddhism

October 25 - November 1


  • PowerPoint: Introduction to Zen Buddhism
  • Chapter 9 – Chan and Zen – The Way of Meditation
  • Legends in Ch’an: The Northern/Southern Schools Split, Hui- neng and the Platform Sutra
  • A Day in the Life of a Zen Monk (5 mins)
  • Zazen Meditation (3 mins)
  • Kyudo (3:30 mins)


  1. Discussion 3 (Zen Exercise) 
  2. Quiz 7 – Chan and Zen

Introduction to Tantric Buddhism

November 1 - 8


  • PowerPoint: Introduction to Tantric Buddhism


  • Chapter 10 – Tantra
  • Yidams
  • The Lightning Path of Buddhism: The Power of Yidams
  • The Medicine Buddha: The Meaning and Symbolism of the Healing Buddha


  • Decoding the Past: Tibetan Book of the Dead (44 mins)


  1. Paper Due
  2. Quiz 8 – Tantra

Part 3 - Holy Writings

November 8 - 15


  • PowerPoint: The Buddhist Scriptures


  • Chapter 1 – Assembling the Dharma
  • Chapter 2 – The Three Baskets
  • Chapter 3 – Mahayana Scriptures


  • Tripitaka and the First Buddhist Council (6 mins)


  1. Discussion 4 (Scriptural Analysis Exercise) 
  2. Quiz 9 – Buddhist Scriptures 

Part 4 - Buddhism Today 

November 15- 22


  • PowerPoint: Buddhism Today  


  • Chapter 1 – The Expanding Community
  • Chapter 2 – Society and the Sangha
  • In Japan, A Ritual of Mourning for Abortions
  • Liberate the Mahabodhi Temple
  • Fascists in Saffron Robes? The Rise of Sri Lanka’s Buddhist Ultra-nationalists


  • Russian Tibet Amazing Journey: Only Buddhist state in Europe. (26 mins)
  • Burma Mantra of Rage Religious Tension Between Muslims and Buddhists (15 mins)


  1. Quiz 10 – Buddhism Today 
  2. Discussion 5 (Case Study)


November 22 - December 6


  1. Discussion 6 - Assignment (2 Parts) Presentations 
  2. Comments Due

Final Exam
December 6 - 11


  1. Final Exam