Final Case Study Presentation – REV

There  are innumerable contexts in which religion and politics come into  contact and conflict. From the violence wielded against Uighur Muslims  by the Chinese State to the issues around gender and religion in India’s  temples, any state must come to terms with the religious composition of  its population and the challenges it can pose secular society. Rather  than a final exam, this class will conclude with the creation and  display of a research poster or video presentation; you can either  create a poster that concisely summarizes information gleaned from  research in a way that is understandable and attractive to a wider  audience, or you can create a short (~5 minute) documentary-esque style  of video that looks into your chosen issue.

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    Either way, you will present information on the relationship  between religion and politics in a time and place which you will select  midway through the semester. I will provide a list of topics for you to  choose from, but you are invited to investigate a topic of your own  choosing (in consultation with me). As mentioned, if you find yourself  drawn to a topic early on I encourage you to use the News Report  assignments as a means to build your research over the entire semester.  The class following Spring Break will be the time for you to commit to a  topic.

    At the least, projects must a) briefly consider the historical  moments that led to the state of affairs, b) identify the main players  in the issue, c) analyze what was at stake in the issue (the “so what”  question), and d) give your own assessment of the scenario, including  possible solutions or outcomes. For those examining a situation from the  past, you should consider what happened and why.

    You are expected to use at least 3 scholarly sources and whatever  number of news sources you feel appropriate. All cases I will provide  have been thoroughly analyzed by scholars, so there should be no  shortage of material to use. You are expected to use academic databases  (available through Montclair State’s library website: (Links to an external site.))  to identify scholarly articles to use in research. Reference librarians  are available online to assist you, and I’m happy to help however I can  if you’re unsure on how to go about researching.

    The design, layout, information contained and overall aesthetic  will be up to you, but I will also show you a model poster to give you  some ideas on how to proceed, and we will spend time discussing what  makes a good poster and what elements might be useful to include in  either format (images, charts, timelines, etc.). On our last meeting  day, you will display your project and engage with others in a  discussion of your findings. Your peers will be completing their own  grading sheer evaluating your poster itself and your ability to  elaborate on the display and respond to their questions. Peer grading  will account for 10% of the presentation grade. More details will be  available as the semester progresses.

REV: While the project will still be the  capstone of the course, the suggestion for a digital form has now become  a necessity. Everything here written is still active, the only big  shift will be the medium for the project itself. What was intended to be  a physical poster will now be a digital format, and there are a few  ways you can do that. The first is the mini-documentary that I suggested  above. For that you should channel your inner Warner Hertzog, Michael  Moore, or Jehane Noujaim and create a 5-10 minute documentary on the  topic you’re assigned. 

Another option would be to channel your inner professor and  approach the project as though teaching a mini-class. If you go this  route, you could create a narrated PowerPoint lecture regarding your  topic. PowerPoint makes it very easy to record audio and video as part  of a slideshow. After creating a number of slides you feel appropriate,  you would then go through and record a PowerPoint show to elaborate on  the points visible on your slides. You’ve seen me and other (undoubtedly  less skilled) professors do this by this point, and now is your chance!  Keep any such shows to under 10 minutes.

A final option would be for you to mimic your first (and too  often only) stop for research: you could create a Wiki page for your  topic. Canvas offers the opportunity to create Wiki pages right on our  site, so if you choose to go this direction you would write up a page  that would be at home on Wikipedia. You will NOT copy any such pages;  you would be creating your own based on your own research, analysis and  insight. Let me know if you choose to go this path, as I may need to  initially create the page for you. 

Whichever format you choose, you should attend to the a)-d)  aspects outlined above, and provide a bibliography recounting the  material you used in research. These are to show your ability to parse  the complex relationship between religion and politics in the realm of  your topic. I expect these to be thoughtful, detailed, and succinct, and  be sure to think about your presentation. 

All projects must be posted on Canvas by our last class period on  May 5. Peer grading will still be part of the grading for this  assignment; since we can walk around conversing with each other, from  5:30-8p on May 5th we will hold a virtual session where  you’ll watch/read/listen to the projects of your classmates and give  them a grade using a sheet I will give you. This not only gives you a  chance to comment and view the work of your colleagues, but also  experience the process of academic evaluation. It’s fun. 

I strongly encourage you to begin working on the project as soon  as possible. Using the News Reports will allow you to make incremental  progress as we proceed through the remainder of the semester, and taking  small steps will make a huge difference as the semester comes to a  close. I am here to answer any questions you have or that come up; don’t  hesitate to email or set up a video conference so we can talk it over.


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