Dr. Jonathan Y. Tan
( 陳運佳教授 )
(513) 745-3794
121 Hinkle Hall

Office hours by appointment

Course Requirements
Living Personalities Project
Library Research Resources
Religion: Web Resources
Religion: News Resources
Grade Computation
Grading Guidelines
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Tue & Thu 10:00-11:15 a.m. (Alter 323)

This upper-division religion course fulfills the following requirements:
  1. an Ethics/Religion & Society Focus Elective,

  2. an elective in the Gender & Diversity Studies Minor, and

  3. a 300-level elective within the Undergraduate Core Curriculum for Theology.
This course introduces students to the three principal religious traditions of China: Confucianism, Daoism, and Chinese Buddhism. Through a combination of assigned print and online readings, podcasts and vodcasts, video documentaries, class discussions, and student research assignments, students explore the origins and historical developments, principal thinkers, central religious and doctrinal themes, ethics, spirituality, popular devotions, social movements, and contemporary developments of these three religions. Students will consider the wider social, cultural, ethical, economic and political dimensions of the Chinese religions in general, and themes of community, identity constructions, personal experiences, movements, as well as their socio-cultural reproductions in contemporary China, and where appropriate, the Chinese Diaspora in North America.

Emerging during the Warring States period in China's history (403-221 B.C.E.), Confucianism and Daoism provide many of the foundational assumptions about humanity and the world within Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Vietnamese cultures. Buddhism travelled from India to China along the Silk Route, developing in new directions when it arrived on Chinese soil. We will explore the acculturation of Buddhism in the Chinese milieu as it crossed geographical boundaries, paying attention to the birth of Pure Land Buddhism and Chan (Zen) Buddhism as the fruits of Indian Buddhism's interreligious encounters with Confucianism and Daoism.

Attention will be given to the challenges and rewards of understanding and engaging with the symbolic universe, as well as the socio-cultural and religious worldviews of religious traditions other than the students' own in an age of religious pluralism. Students are encourage to explore the differences between the "Western" (specifically "Christian") worldview(s) with those of the Chinese religious traditions. By the end of this course, students would have developed the ability to read critically, think analytically, as well as formulate basic explications, careful comparisons, reasoned critiques, constructive analysis and evaluation of the contemporary significance and long term global and transnational implications of Chinese religious traditions in China and the worldwide Chinese diaspora, as well as the future of Chinese religions' encounter with other world religions.

As an Ethics/Religion & Society Focus Elective, this course is structured to further the E/RS objectives of:
  1. heightening awareness about the ethical and religious dimensions of socially significant issues;
  2. enabling students to use philosophical and theological methods and principles effectively in the analysis of socially significant issues;
  3. enabling students to understand and to evaluate the ethical and/or religious content of social significance in literary texts;
  4. helping students integrate moral reflection and religious analysis into their study of a chosen major or minor; and
  5. encouraging the development of a worldview that is oriented to responsible action.


The Master [Confucius] says:
"Learning without thinking is a waste of time,
Thinking without learning is dangerous" (Analects 2:15).


A good faith effort has been made to comply with US copyright law. This does not mean that none of the materials used in this course website is copyright protected, but that the "fair use" clause of US Copyright Law has been adhered to. In particular, any copyright material used here is (a) not used for commercial gain and used exclusively for educational purposes; and (b) used in limited amounts in comparison to the published source. The relevant provision (section 107) of the U.S. Copyright Act is reproduced below:

Section 107: Limitations on exclusive rights: Fair Use
Notwithstanding the provisions of section 106, the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phone records or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright. In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use, the factors to be considered shall include:
(1) The purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
(2) the nature of the copyrighted work;
(3) the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
(4) the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work. (added pub. l 94-553, Title I, 101, Oct 19, 1976, 90 Stat 2546).


Joseph A. Adler
Religious Traditions

(Prentice Hall, 2002)

de Bary & Bloom, eds.
Sources of
Chinese Tradition
(2nd Ed), Vol. 1

(Columbia, 1999)

Eva Wong
Shambhala Guide
to Taoism

(Shambhala, 1997)

Kenneth Chen
Buddhism in
China: A
Historical Survey

(Princeton, 1964)

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Revision 1.0.0003. Originally created: 10 February 2008. Last updated: 24 July 2008.
Designed, created and maintained by: Jonathan Y. Tan. © Copyright Jonathan Y. Tan, 2008. All rights reserved.