Studying about the Great Religions
Believe it or not, the history of the great religions lives outside of your textbook.
Most obviously, it lives in you, your friends and family, and in your neighborhoods, in the institutions you drive by each day — the synagogues, churches, shrines, mosques, and religious centers that fill Los Angeles and its environs. Even if you are an atheist or agnostic, you have been shaped by a culture that has been deeply informed by religion.

The aim of this assignment is to invite you to find and learn about the Great Religions in your own backyard, face-to-face. To do this, this assignments requires that you visit a place of worship of one of the religions we will examine in our class and interview a person there linked to this place of worship and knowledgeable about the religion you’ve chosen.

All of the Great Religions have places of worship in your neighborhood. We live in a great city, Los Angeles, and these places are plentiful. For this Project, please visit a place of worship for a religion that 1.) is not your own religion (if you have one) and 2.) is examined in our course. Consult our modules and our textbook to find the religions we will be examining in our course and choose the one that interests you the most.

The religion you choose must NOT be the religion you practice, if any: that’s essential.
Once you’ve chosen a religion to study, you must visit a place where its worship services occur. You must arrange an interview with a person who is a leader at that place of worship. This might be a rabbi, priest, bonze, imam — whoever is attached to the place and can speak authoritatively on the religion you’ve chosen.

Think big. Go to a house of worship or community center of a religion that you are not familiar with, have never visited, are a complete stranger to. THIS IS AN ESSENTIAL PART OF THE ASSIGNMENT. We learn and grow when we face what is unfamiliar and new. In return, it allows us to see and know ‘the normal’ in a new and deeper way. If you are a Christian, a visit to a Hindu temple will likely only deepen your understanding of Christianity. I would be very surprised if it doesn’t.
Be fearless.
The Field Trip Assignment

There are three parts to this assignment and therefore three submitted pieces of work:

1. An emailed proposal specifying 1. the name of the place of worship you will visit and 2. the name of the person at this place whom you will interview. (20 points) Be specific.
2. A written paper of 1200 words that strictly follows the Paper Template at the end of this document. (40 points)

3. The creation of a presentation documenting 1. the place you visited and 2. the person you interviewed. (40 points)
The Field Assignment Proposal (20 points)
Email me your proposals from within Canvas specifying 1. the place of worship you will visit and 2. the person at this place whom you will interview. (20 points). Only when you receive my OK should you start on the project. If you wait until the last minute to gain such approval or if you are late in requesting it, you will lose points for this assignment.
ALL PLACES OR DESTINATIONS MUST RELATE TO ONE OF THE MAJOR RELIGIONS WE WILL STUDY IN THIS COURSE. The more relevant themes you address in this Assignment, the better.

The Field Assignment Paper (40 points)
The Field Assignment Paper must strictly follow the Paper Template attached to the end of this Assignment. Look for it now. The heart of the Paper is twofold: 1. to showcase the interview you will conduct with a person at your place of worship and 2. to connect what you learn on your trip and interview to the main themes in our class.
I will assume that all papers will be written grammatically, will be punctuated correctly, and will have correct spelling. No exceptions.
In preparation for the interview you will have with this figure, you must research his or her religion, the history of the place of worship, and you must draw up — based on the information gained in this process — a list of questions based on your interest and your research. When you come to the interview, come armed and informed with this information.
The list of questions you draw up before the interview must be attached to the end of the Paper. The interview set is a list of questions that an interviewer — you — take with you to your interview with the leader of the religious community you are studying for this project. At minimum, the question set must list the topics you wish to discuss in the interview. Under each topic, you will list the questions you wish to ask. This question set will be submitted with the written paper component of this assignment.
What questions will be on your list of questions? At the very least, they must include the following core questions:
What does the interviewee think are the most important tenets of the religion they follow?
How did they become involved with this religion? That is, what is their personal story?
How does the historical past of their religion shape worship today?
What are the specific challenges faced by this religion today, locally and nationally and even globally?
This is a start. I will leave it to you and your curiosity to add further topics and questions as needed in the fulfillment of this project. These further topics and questions are required. Go beyond the questions above.

The Field Assignment Presentation (40 points)
The Presentation focuses on the place you visited and the person you interviewed. It documents your visit. It complements your paper and it should in no way duplicate the information in the paper. Do NOT copy and paste your Field Assignment paper into your presentation. The two serve different purposes and stand apart.
What should you provide in your Presentation?
Images of yourself at the place you’ve chosen, background information on that place, and background info on the person you interview for this project. Some part of the presentation must prove that you visited your Field Assignment destination. To show this, I strongly suggest you take a photo of yourself with your interviewee at the place of worship. If you wish to include in the Presentation personal comments about your experience (a sort of self-debriefing), please do.
In the presentation, seek to convey what it was like for you to carry out this project. One student, for instance, taped his interview and made this a part of his presentation. Another gave excerpts of his interview and cut in an analysis of those excerpts in a video. In his video analysis he can be seen seated at his computer speaking into the camera and reflecting on the Project and how it stretched him.
What form might this presentation take?
The presentation can be a powerpoint of your trip providing photos taken during your visit, a brief history of the place, and background info on your interviewee. It could be a video, blog, or website about your project, providing your photos, documents you used in your research, music files, and so on. Be creative. If you wish, the presentation can be a video of your trip from start to finish. You may wish to record and make available the interview you conduct. You might think about designing an online “guide” to the site you visited that gives relevant history, facts, info, images, and so on.

PHYSICAL PROOF THAT YOU VISITED OR ATTENDED YOUR PLACE OF WORSHIP IS REQUIRED. The proof might be at least one photo of yourself at your chosen destination/place of worship/religious community center. It must prove beyond a doubt that you were at the place you say you were. Bring your smartphone and take photos or videos of your adventure.
Your Field Assignment proposal deadline is April 9th, 2023. A late proposal submission means lost points. Send your proposal to me by using the Canvas inbox only. Do not send it to my college email address.
In your Canvas proposal email, state the the place you will visit and whom you will interview. Late proposals will lose points.

The Field Assignment Paper and Presentation are both due May 21st, 2023, before 11 p.m. (PST). Put that date in your calendar now. You’ll be glad you did.

Submitting Your Work

The Field Assignment Proposal
Email me your proposals from within Canvas specifying 1. the place of worship you will visit and 2. the person at this place whom you will interview. (20 points). Only when you receive my OK should you start on the project. If you wait until the last minute to gain such approval or if you are late in requesting it, you will lose points for this assignment. If for some reason I take longer than 24 hours to approve your proposal (highly unlikely if you send it during the week), remind me with a quick follow-up.

The Field Assignment Paper
The Field Assignment Paper must bear your name, it must follow the template (below) and it must include the QUESTION SET for the interview in the paper. (The SET will not count towards the minimum word requirement.)
The Field Assignment paper must be submitted in one of the following filetypes: pdf, doc, docs. No exceptions. If I can’t open your paper file, it will be tantamount to not having submitted it.
Click on the “Submit Assignment” button on the upper right of this page to submit your Field Assignment Paper.
The Presentation
How you submit your presentation depends on the form it takes.

If your presentation is a PowerPoint file, I strongly suggest that you use a file-hosting service (OneDrive and GoogleDrive are free) and provide me access to the file. If the file is small (less than 30 megabytes), you can attempt to upload it using the “Submit Assignment” button on this Assignment page. To be safe, I would do both — attempt to upload by “Submitting” it on the Assignment page AND emailing me the access info by using the Canvas Inbox feature. If you use a file-hosting service, provide me access to your presentation file. That access might mean giving me a website address, a code, or both. Put this code in your Field Assignment paper and alert me to it. Again, if I lack permission to view your work on a webpage or site, it’s the same as not handing it in. The work will receive a zero.
If your presentation is a website, please put the address to it in your Field Assignment paper and email the web address for it using the Canvas Inbox feature. Do both. (To make your own website, see Links to an external site. or Links to an external site. or another free website service.)
If your presentation is a blog, provide me the web address for it in your Field Assignment Paper. Then email it to me using the Canvas Inbox feature — both.
If your presentation is a video (a potentially huge file), upload it on YouTube or some other free file-hosting site and, again, provide me with access to it by putting the access code in your paper AND emailing it to me using the Canvas Inbox feature. (Access might be a web address and any passwords or logins that allow me to view the video.)

Submission Advice:
If I can’t view your video, blog, or PPT presentation for any reason, I cannot grade it. It is the same as if you hadn’t made the video at all. You will receive no credit for this part of the assignment. (Test access to your work by sending the password to it to a friend BEFORE submitting the work.)
You are far too intelligent to wait until the last few hours of the day of the deadline to upload these items: the server will likely be overwhelmed and you may miss the deadline. If you are not planning ahead, you are planning to fail. At the very least, you are tempting fate. No late work will be accepted.

About Plagiarism

Please recall that all of you have signed the anti-plagiarism agreement, have taken the Plagiarism Quiz, and have read the section of the Introductory Module of Essential Things about intellectual thievery. Everything must be your own original work, and all sources–including leaflets, online sources and images, etc–MUST be cited appropriately.

The Field Assignment Paper Template
(please follow this template strictly)

1. The place of worship (shrine, temple, synagogue, center) I attended was….

2. My reason for choosing this particular World Religions was….

3. Briefly describe your visit. Include what you saw, the persons you met, any events, and so on. Keep this brief.
4. Present and summarize your interview and, at minimum, the answers you gained from the interview questions above. Identify the person you interviewed. What were the chief topics of discussion, present brief quotes, and summarize the gist or main parts of the interview.

5. Next, and most importantly, describe how your visit and interview relate to the key themes and content of our World Religion History Course. Provide at least three points of relevance or connection to our course’s themes and discuss them at length. Be sure you identify and discuss the theme or themes when you come to discuss your connections.

For instance, take a key theme and begin so: “The first theme is related to the Course as follows….The second theme related to the Course…. The third, fourth, etc. themes are related to the Course….

[Please note: Part 4 and 5 are the most important parts of this Paper: here is where the ”A” papers will rise above the “B” and “C” papers. If you wish to do well on this Field Assignment Paper, work especially hard on this part.]

6. This event, activity, or place went beyond the course textbook in several ways, such as….. (List several ways and discuss each way.)

7. My visit and interview raised several questions about the religion I chose that interested me or left me troubled or confused. These were…. (List at least two)

8. In conclusion, this experience showed me that…. (what was the most important thing that you learned from the experience — it’s “cash value”? Put it here.)
9. Attach your list of question topics and questions to the end of your paper. Remember, I will not count this list of questions topics and questions as part of the minimum word total.