An Inside Look at a UW Associate of Arts and Sciences Course: Introduction to Religion

Brandon Arbuckle October 27, 2021
Introduction to Religion

A University of Wisconsin Associate of Arts and Sciences (UW AAS) degree builds the foundation in the liberal arts, and graduates gain a deeper understanding of the world around us. The 100 percent online program also provides the flexibility to begin on a path that fits your schedule.

UWX RE101: Introduction to Religion offers several ways of studying the world’s major religious traditions and how they have influenced aspects of society. The course is also a great option for fulfilling part of the Knowledge of Human Cultures credit requirement within the UW AAS program.

Whether you’d like to know more about the types of assignments to expect in the course or the overall lesson structure, this inside look will cover everything you need to know about UWX RE101: Introduction to Religion.  

What will I learn in the course?

As an introduction to the academic field of religious studies, UWX RE101: Introduction to Religion examines how religion has been practiced throughout history and in the modern world. The course takes an interdisciplinary approach to religion—rather than highlighting a specific religion each week, lessons are dedicated to how themes and topics fit within different methodologies.

Topics covered range from the birth stories of the Hindu god Krishna, the Buddha, and Jesus to the ways religious people use social media to share their values and connect to one another. Instead of assigning a value judgement or critically evaluating religions to determine whether something is correct or incorrect, the three-credit General Education course is designed to view religion and its practices for what they are from an objective perspective.


You will be able to do the following by the end of the course:

  • Recognize various scholarly approaches to religions
  • Identify the differences between scholarly, devotional, and other lay understandings of religions
  • Employ different methods to compare religious traditions
  • Explore relationships between religion, secularity, and modern cultural contexts
  • Examine the forces of oppression and alienation within and between religious groups and the cultures and societies in which they exist

What will the lectures be like?

UWX RE101: Introduction to Religion consists of 15 lessons across 15 weeks, or at an accelerated pace of eight weeks in the summer. The course features a mix of written commentary and narrated presentations. There are no required textbooks, but you will read the works of theorists and watch short films to further develop your understanding on topics such as the study of religious rituals and how modern religious groups account for environmental sustainability. Since the course does not have lectures at specific times, you will be able to decide where and when to complete the coursework.

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What types of assignments will I complete?

There will be three unit essays throughout the semester, with each essay covering topics for that respective unit. The course approaches religion from the standpoint of relationships as a way to understand religions more broadly. Students will explore relationships within religion by researching “home traditions,” which are smaller-population religious traditions. Students will be randomly assigned to one of four home tradition groups:

  • Anishinaabe
  • Ifa-Yoruba
  • Jain
  • Wicca

There are also lessons centered around weekly discussions with others in the class where you will share your thoughts on the readings from the perspective of your home tradition. The final assignments for the course include two dialogue papers, which serve as the capstone for the home traditions project and a reflection on the course as a whole.

Do students in the course interact?

Yes. While there are no group projects, you will interact in discussion sections in Canvas, the online learning management system for the UW AAS program. After submitting a discussion post on that week’s material, you will be tasked with responding to another student’s post.

How much coursework will I do in one week?

When there isn’t a unit essay or dialogue paper, most weeks are structured around an initial discussion post and reply post. Assignments, assignment prompts, and their due dates are all listed in Canvas, which makes it easy for you to plan ahead and keep track of your progress.

Will I receive support in the course?

Students who have any questions on course material or the assignments can contact the instructor directly during their office hours. The UW Extended Campus Student Services team also has Success Coaches who are able to help guide you through the UW AAS program.

Interested in learning more about UWX RE101: Introduction to Religion or the 100 percent online UW Associate of Arts and Sciences program? Take a look at the program curriculum page or reach out to an enrollment adviser with any questions about the program. For more information, call 608-800-6762 or email

Programs: Associate of Arts