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Resources for Teachers

Sacred Gotham Field Research

In the last week of the 2012 and 2014 Religious Worlds institutes, our summer scholars used ethnographic research methods and a multimedia wiki platform to document the religious life of the Upper West Side.  We hope their work will inspire teachers throughout the country to develop their own student-driven fieldwork projects.  In the coming years, we'd love to see teams of students -- armed with notepads, cameras, and sheer curiosity -- fanning out across the United States to document and interpret the religious diversity of their own communities.

Our summer scholars explored Sacred Gotham from the bottom up, looking for “religion” wherever it might be found and however one might define it -- in houses of worship and religious institutions, but also in murals and graffiti, statues and shrines, bookstores and busin­esses, yoga studios and rest­aurants, and countless other research sites.  With help from the Columbia Center for New Media Teaching and Learning, they pinned accounts of these sites to a shared Google Map and created multimedia reports on their fieldwork.  Excerpts from their research findings are available here.  After you take a look, you may want to download the daily schedule and step-by-step guidelines for the Sacred Gotham fieldwork project.  These guidelines are specific to our summer scholars' research, but they will help you design similar projects for your students.

If you have no previous experience with ethnographic fieldwork, you may also want to take a look at a field methods textbook like FieldWorking: Reading and Writing Research, by Bonnie Stone Sunstein and Elizabeth Chiseri-Strater (Bedford-St. Martin's, 2011), or Field Projects in Anthropology, by Julia Crane and Michael Angrosino (Waveland Press, 1992).  And for an inspiring discussion of the pedagogic and civic significance of community-based research projects by K-12 students, by all means check out The Power of Community-Centered Education: Teaching as a Craft of Place, by Michael Umphrey (Rowman & Littlefield, 2007).

Finally, if you have questions about the Sacred Gotham fieldwork project, please don't hesitate to contact institute director Henry Goldschmidt at or 212-870-3514.

Now, with no further ado . . .


Sacred Gotham Sites on Google Maps







Sacred Gotham Reports in Wiki Spaces







Thanks to our summer scholars, and to the religious communities of the Upper West Side!