Next up in course planning; when and what (also known as the framework of the syllabus). Below is a really rough draft of how I envision the course proceeding in the first two weeks, but by the end of the syllabus drafting, I may resort to Andrea Livi Smith’s most excellent way of planning. I’ve arranged topics tentatively by week; assignments will come later. For the time being, I’m planning on having the class do small group projects in which they build a domain that explores a digital community, digital version of a religious text, or some other digital interpretation of religion.

Week 1

What is religion?

I envision this week as an introduction to the various notions of religion and religious studies, including a very brief look at some theories of religion.

Week 2

What is the digital age? How did religious groups ever manage before the internet?

Since I’m a historian by training, I find it helpful to ground my explorations in what the past was like and how the present differs. *Spoiler alert: I fully expect that by the end of the semester, we’ll decide that the only thing that may have changed is the medium and not the message.* Nevertheless, we can start with ideas of community, message, doctrine, adherence, apostasy in “analog” times.

Then comes the hard part: how to tackle the next few weeks. Possible ideas include 1) taking the ideas above (community, message, doctrine, adherence, apostasy, etc) and turning them into one-week explorations; or 2)  looking at various social media platforms (Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc.) and how religious groups use them. These two ideas don’t need to be mutually exclusive: one could study message and outreach through Facebook, for example.

More to come…