TERM PAPER SAMPLE TOPICS

Sample Topics (Note-These are ideas designed to help you begin thinking about your topic. Most of them would need to be narrowed down so that they become much more specific):

Interview:
(Interview two or three people from different religious traditions about some aspect of her or his viewpoint, ideas and experience, then analyze and discuss the response to your questions. This requires good preparation of questions before the interview and consideration of how one approaches a religion as an "outsider" attempting to understand the point of view of someone who is part of a religion). Note: You can count these interviews as equivalent to two of your five minimum required resources. However you will still need to use a minimum of three more resources (books, journals, articles, etc. in your paper.)

Focus on a particular ritual in two or three religions

Examples: Compare Bar/Bat Mitzvah in Judaism with Confirmation in Christianity or compare funeral rituals, purification rituals, or sacrifice, etc. in two or three religions)
Initiation Rituals -(The means by which one becomes a member)
Rites of Passage-Rituals for moving from one stage of life into another
New Religious Movements and their Acceptance/Rejection in Society (The "Cult" Controversy)
Focus on two new religious movements, compare them, analyze how they have been ‘received by their dominant cultures.

Ethical/Social Issues-(Choose one) and compare the approach in two or three religions

Focus on the religious issues ONLY. For example: If you choose “Abortion” you should deal only with the religious issues-from the point of view of two or three religions. You would not just turn in a paper on abortion.

The Status of Women (How the religion portrays women, religious roles, social roles, beliefs, etc.)

Example: The Question of the Ordination of Women in Judaism and Christianity

Myths/Sacred Stories-Compare and analyze similar myths in two or three religions.

Example: Shinto and Hindu myths of Creation

Compare Beliefs of Two or Three Religions concerning a Specific Issue:

The View of Life After Death
Reincarnation in Hinduism and African Religion
Concepts of God, Goddesses, Gods or the Ultimate Reality
Example: Concept of the Earth as Mother Goddess in Wicca and the Lakota Sioux
Dualism:
Example: Compare Zoroastrian concepts of Good and Evil with the concept of the balance of Yin and Yang in Taoism (Note: Yin and Yang are not simply “good” and “evil”)

The Idea of Sacred Space in two or three religions, i.e. temples, kraal, sacred hoop, etc.

Shamanism among the Yoruba and the Lakota Sioux

Comparison of Founding or Influential Figures (Examples: Jesus and Muhammad, Lao Tzu and Confucius, Moses and Buddha, etc.)

Figures Common to More than One Religion

Example: Abraham: As he is Understood in Judaism, Christianity and Islam

Syncretism (The combination of beliefs and practices from two or more religions--Example: The Syncretism of Mayan Religion and Christianity, Zulu and Christianity, Islam and Hinduism)

Apocalyptic Movements (groups which look forward to the “end of the world”)

Sacred Texts and How they Function in two or three religions.

Historical Relationships

Examples: Buddhism and Hinduism
Jewish/Muslim relationships in Islamic Spain
Hinduism and Islam in India
Religious Aspects of the Israeli/Palestinian/Arab Debate

“Reform Movements”-Such as Caitanya in Hinduism, Pure Land Buddhism, Protestant Reformation

Last Modified:
Kenneth J. Banner
kbanner@sas.upenn.edu