Metropolitan State University

RELS 390 : Zen Buddhism in American Culture

A. Course Description
Credits: 4
Lab Hours/ Weeks: Corequisites: None
Lecture Hours/ Week :  
MnTC Goals: Goal LS - Upper Division Liberal Studies , Goal 06 - Humanities/Fine Arts , Goal 07 - Human Diversity
This course explores the historical background and cultural impact of Zen Buddhism as it has been inherited and assimilated into American life. It includes a survey of historical Buddhism and its transmission lines from China, Japan and Vietnam, and an overview of Zen philosophy and psychology; approaches to diet and health; Zen arts and social ethics; and Zen impact on American religious seekers. The class also considers political activism among the students of Zen and American women's role in transforming traditional patriarchal Zen. Field trips to a Zen temple and a Zen center are required.
B. Course Effective Dates: 08/01/1998 - 09/05/1999 09/06/1999 - Present
C. Outline of Major Content Areas:
See Course Description for major content areas.
D. Learning Outcomes (General)
  1. Assess and appreciate Buddhist influences in American arts and letters and religious philosophy.
  2. Gain a deeper understanding of historical Buddhism and its place in today's world.
  3. Know Buddhist ideas, beliefs, behaviors, and cultures in the American context.
  4. Recognize and analyze the cultural and philosophical diversity of American and recent Asian immigrant Buddhists, and the individual and institutional dynamics of relations between the two groups.
  5. Understand the process of cultural transmission and cross-cultural assimilation and group differences, as well as the changing meaning group identities.
E. Learning Outcomes (MN Transfer Curriculum)
Goal LS - Upper Division Liberal Studies
Goal 06 - Humanities/Fine Arts
  1. Articulate an informed personal reaction to works in the arts and humanities.
  2. Understand those works as expressions of individual and human values within an historical and social context.
  3. Engage in the creative process or interpretive performance.
  4. Demonstrate awareness of the scope and variety of works in the arts and humanities.
  5. Respond critically to works in the arts and humanities.
Goal 07 - Human Diversity
  1. Demonstrate an awareness of the individual and institutional dynamics of unequal power relations between groups in contemporary society.
  2. Analyze their own attitudes, behaviors, concepts and beliefs regarding diversity, racism, and bigotry.
  3. Understand the development of and the changing meanings of group identities in the United States' history and culture.
  4. Describe and discuss the experience and contributions (political, social, economic, etc.) of the many groups that shape American society and culture, in particular those groups that have suffered discrimination and exclusion.
  5. Demonstrate communication skills necessary for living and working effectively in a society with great population diversity.
G. Special Information