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"Faith, Culture and Identity: Teaching About Religion Today"

2000 Summer Teachers' Institute
June 5–9, 2000

The 2000 Summer Institute, entitled "Faith, Culture and Identity: Teaching About Religion Today," attracted 30 teachers from all over Texas. The five-day workshop covered issues dealing with the interplay between religion, culture, politics and national identity. Faculty members from UT and other institutions gave short lectures in order to provide new and broader information on these sometimes difficult and sensitive topics, and responded to questions from the participants.

Each day, a teaching strategies session, led by Nancy Lehmann-Carssow of Austin's Lanier High School, presented methods and new innovations in teaching world cultures and social studies in the classroom. There were also several technology sessions throughout the week led by Dr. Ray Sanders of UT's Geography Department that presented online resources, as well as software packages and skills for presenting concepts of world culture and geography that can easily be implemented in the schools.

One of the high points of the workshop was a field trip to three sites of worship in the Austin area: Barsana Dham, a Hindu temple; the Islamic Center of Greater Austin; and the International Buddhist Progress Society's new facility. At each facility, participants got the chance to hear presentations by guest speakers, ask questions, and see first hand the places and practices of worship.

The week culminated in a best practices session on Friday, in which each participant had the chance to share a lesson plan or teaching strategy. This idea exchange enabled each of the teachers to share handouts, methods, and discuss their perceptions of the best ways to implement the lessons learned during the workshop in their school. Some of these lesson plans are outlined in the Fall 2000 issue of Hemispheres, our biannual newsletter.


Conference Program:
All events will be held in the Texas Union, Governor's Room, unless otherwise noted.

Monday, June 5

8:30 - 9:00 Coffee and Registration

9:00 - 11:45 Introductory Session

  • Howard Miller, History

  • Nancy Lehmann-Carssow, Lanier High School

11:45 - 12:45 Lunch (on own)

1:00 - 2:45 Classroom Strategies/Breakout

  • Nancy Lehmann-Carssow

3:00 - 4:00 Technology Session

  • Ray Sanders, Geography
    (Session will be held in GRG 102)

Tuesday, June 6

8:30 - 9:00 Coffee

9:00 - 11:45 Panel: Religion and National Diversity

  • Religion and Identity in Israel
    Avraham Zilkha, Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures

  • Hinduism: Teaching Religion or Culture?
    Peter Gottschalk, Southwestern University

  • Religious Identity in Literature
    Margaret Dunaway

11:45 - 12:45 Lunch (on own)

1:00 - 2:45 Classroom Strategies/Breakout

  • Nancy Lehmann-Carssow

3:00 - 4:00 Technology Session

  • Ray Sanders, Geography
    (Session will be held in GRG 102)

Wednesday, June 7

8:30 - 9:00 Coffee

9:00 - 11:00 Panel: Comparative Views

  • Shamanism, Past and Present
    Pauline Strong, Anthropology

  • Viewing the Taj Mahal as an Image of India
    Janice Leoshko, Art History

  • Protestantism in Guatemala
    Virginia Garrard-Burnett, Latin American Studies

11:00 - 12:00 Working Lunch / Project Planning Session

  • Participants will meet with their partners to work on their project to be presented on Friday.
    Indian lunch will be provided from Taj Palace.
    (Flawn Academic Center, 4th Floor, Dobie Room)

12:00 - 5:00 Field Trip

  • Meet in front of the Union at 12:00 sharp.

  • 12:45 - 1:30 Barsana Dham Hindu Temple

  • 2:00 - 2:45 Islamic Center of Greater Austin

  • 3:30 - 4:15 International Buddhist Progress Society at Austin

7:00 - 10:00 Movie (optional)

  • "The Commissar"
  • Jester 203

Thursday, June 8

8:30 - 9:00 Coffee

9:00 - 11:00 Video Presentation

  • "Minds in Black"
  • Discussion led by Avi Santo, Middle Eastern Studies and Radio-Television-Film

11:15 - 12:30 Lunch (on own)

12:45 - 2:15 Classroom Strategies/Breakout

  • Nancy Lehmann-Carssow

2:30 - 4:00 Technology Session

  • Ray Sanders, Geography
    (Session will be held in GRG 102)

Friday, June 9

8:30 - 9:00 Coffee

9:00 - 11:00 Panel: Popular Religions/Popular Practice

  • Popular Islamic Practices in the Middle East and the United States
    Kamran Aghaie, Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures

  • Religion Against National Values? Aum Shinrikyô and Sôka gakkai
    Peter Sigenthaler, Asian Studies

  • Religions in Russia's Middle Volga Region
    Olessia Vovina, Seton Hall University

11:15 - 12:15 Participant Presentations

12:15 - 1:15 Lunch (on own)

1:15 - 3:30 Participant Presentations

3:30 - 4:00 Wrap-up and Evaluations

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