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Religious Worlds of New York

Religious Worlds of New York Partner(s): Henry Goldschmidt
Interfaith Center of New York

Access: Open to all
Released: May 2012


Religious Worlds of New York is a collaboration between CCNMTL, the Interfaith Center of New York, and Union Theological Seminary. The project is centered on a three-week summer institute for K-12 instructors exploring new ways to teach students about religious institutions that are part of the fabric of American life. A series of field explorations will immerse institute participants in studying "lived religion" -- social realities as well as doctrinal values that shape religious lives within a diverse urban landscape. CCNMTL participation includes research support and technical instruction for institute participants.

Partnering with Dr. Henry Goldschmidt, the summer institute director, CCNMTL has designed a collaborative online workspace for the institute's capstone documentation activity. The workspace is patterned on Sacred Gotham, a location-based exploration of religious activity that CCNMTL has run since 2006 with Columbia University Department of Religion professor Courtney Bender. Religious Worlds of New York institute participants will have access to resources and templates after the institute to support their ability to set up "lived religion" workspaces and activities in their own K-12 classes.

The Religious Worlds of New York project is supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Project Details

The NEH-funded Religious Worlds of New York summer institute is an opportunity to extend a powerful model of field analysis developed over many years by Sacred Gotham, one of CCNMTL's earliest Digital Bridges projects. K-12 teachers attending the institute will engage with a wealth of resources that will help them, in turn, teach their own students about religious diversity in contemporary culture.

To extend the tools, data, and methodologies supporting "lived religion" pedagogy, CCNMTL is partnering with the Interfaith Center, faculty from Columbia University's Religion Department, and the Union Theological Center. Assignments, location-based data, and map integration developed by Professor Courtney Bender and CCNMTL for Sacred Gotham are being customized for the institute; CCNMTL staff will run instructional sessions and give hands-on support for the collection, management, and presentation of data collected by institute participants in New York.

After the institute, participants will be ready to set up their own versions of Sacred Gotham, and set up activities for their K-12 students based on field investigation of religious activity in their own communities. Templates and guidance for running replicas of the project on free sites will support the spread of this model. In addition, institute members will be able to connect to each other on the institute wiki to discuss their implementations and share lesson plans.

A public site, also designed by CCNMTL and authored by Religious Worlds of New York institute leader Dr. Henry Goldschmidt, contains a large of amount of information about the institute's approach to religious studies, curriculum and activities, and associated faculty. Extensive resources for K-12 teachers are assembled there. Description and illustration of the institute's culminating activity, the collection and assemblage of Sacred Gotham-like reports of religious life in specific regions of New York City, will also be posted to the public site.