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Religious Worlds of New York: Teaching the Everyday Life of American Religious Diversity

Summer Seminars and Institutes for School Teachers

Postmark Deadline: March 1, 2012

“Religious Worlds of New York City: Teaching the Everyday Life of American Religious Diversity” is a three-week school teacher institute for thirty participants on American religious diversity as manifested in community life in New York City. The institute is a collaboration between the Interfaith Center of New York and Union Theological Seminary. It focuses on American religious diversity through the lens of “lived religion”—religion as it evolves in everyday community life—instead of the traditional “world religions” model—which treats religions as historical faiths, defined by fixed texts, doctrines, and practices. Following an introduction to religious liberty in the United States and attendant constitutional issues, scholars introduce six major religious traditions: Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Afro-Caribbean religions. The participants then meet with local religious leaders chosen to illustrate diversity within traditions, followed by site visits to houses of worship. The second segment addresses the concept of lived religion through scholarly writings, literary works, and film; the teachers work on curriculum projects. In the third segment, the participants undertake group mapping projects on religious diversity in a New York City neighborhood. Participants learn to distinguish between academic and devotional approaches to the study of religion. The large cast of visiting scholars includes Randall Balmer (religion, Columbia University), John Stratton Hawley (religion, Barnard College), Robert Orsi (religious studies, Northwestern University), Charles Haynes (Freedom Forum First Amendment Center), Rabbi Michael Paley, Ali Asani (Indo-Muslim cultures, Harvard University), and Annabella Pitkin (Asian and Middle Eastern cultures, Columbia University).

Dates: July 16--August 3 (3 weeks)
Grantee Institutions: The Interfaith Center of New York, Union Theological Seminary
Location: New York City, NY

About NEH Summer Seminars and Institutes for School Teachers

Each year the NEH’s Division of Education Programs offers teachers opportunities to study a variety of humanities topics in NEH Summer Seminars and Institutes. An NEH Summer Seminar for school teachers enables sixteen participants to explore a topic or set of readings with an expert scholar. The core material of the seminar need not relate directly to the school curriculum; the principal goal of the seminar is to engage teachers in the scholarly enterprise and to expand and deepen their understanding of the humanities through reading, discussion, writing, and reflection.

Amount of Award

NEH Summer Scholars are awarded fixed stipends to help cover travel costs, books and other research expenses, and living expenses. Stipend amounts are based on the length of the NEH Summer Seminar or Institute: $2,100 (2 weeks), $2,700 (3 weeks), $3,300 (4 weeks), $3,900 (5 weeks), or $4,500 (6 weeks).


Full-time teachers in American K-12 schools, whether public, charter, independent, or religiously affiliated, as well as home-schooling parents, are eligible to apply to NEH Summer Seminars and Institutes. Americans teaching abroad are also eligible if a majority of the students they teach are American citizens. Librarians and school administrators may also be eligible.

You may request information about as many projects as you like, but you may apply to no more than two NEH Summer Programs (seminars, institutes, or Landmarks workshops) and you may attend only one. Eligibility criteria differ significantly between NEH Summer Seminars and Institutes and NEH Landmarks Workshops.

Please note: Up to two seminar spaces and three institute spaces are available for current graduate students, who intend to pursue careers in K-12 teaching.

How to Apply

For more information and application instructions, please visit the program website listed above.