Tuesday, January 12, 2016

The Student Assignment

Imagine you’re a student in a world religions course or an intro to religious studies course. You’re getting close to the end of the semester and by now you’ve assessed several definitions of religion, you learned about diverse religions and the diversity that exists within each, you explored various aspects or dimensions of religions, and you’ve been introduced to the project of pluralism, that is, not just a recognition of diversity, but an engagement with diversity as a democratic strength.
And it’s at this point, near the end of the semester, that I assign a Mural Project, where students find and photograph a mural that has religious or spiritual significance. Students choose or design their own definition or description of religion – and so have a variety of mural subjects. Students then engage in various assignments to document and analyze existing murals, and also propose new projects.
Project Goals:
First: to have students engage the religiously diverse geography they inhabit and to promote the project of pluralism;
Second: to learn more about the complex ways that people do and represent religion;
Third: to help students problematize binaries between high/low art, or art/vandalism,
between public/private; and between religion/secular or religion/spiritual.
Fourth: to broaden the ways in which students think about and present research findings.
Fifth: to connect Liberal Arts education to industry skills, including: photography, digital geo mapping, craft writing, survey design, fielding & analysis, and qualitative data recording & archiving.

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