The resources collected on this page will help you teach creatively and effectively about religious diversity — far beyond the “dates and doctrines” pedagogy of the typical world religions course. Click the boxes below for downloadable lesson plans, introductions to diverse faith traditions, teachers’ guides to religion in schools, cutting-edge academic research, novels and films set in diverse faith communities, and much more.
Teachers Guides to the Study of Religion in K-12 SchoolsEssential starting points from the First Amendment Center, American Academy of Religion, Society of Biblical Literature, and National Council for the Social Studies.
These guides are intended, above all, to help teachers in U.S. public schools teach about religion in constitutionally sound, pedagogically appropriate ways, but they offer invaluable support for all K-12 teachers — at public, private, or faith-based schools. Click below to learn more and download the guides.
Brief Introductions to Religious Traditions from the Pluralism ProjectAccessible and reliable essays exploring the beliefs and practices of diverse faith communities, as well as their place in contemporary American life.
From Harvard University’s Pluralism Project, click here for an introduction to global religious diversity through the lens of American life. You’ll find scores of brief, accessible essays, with photos and multimedia resources, exploring 17 different religious traditions, from Afro-Caribbean to Zoroastrian. More engaging than Wikipedia, and more reliable than “Professor Google.” While you’re on the Pluralism Project site, also check out their case study teaching initiative, and many other resources.
Lesson Plans and Community-Based ProgramsOver 100 downloadable curriculum projects created by our summer scholars, adaptable for teaching in a wide range of courses and classrooms.
During each Religious Worlds institute, our summer scholars create curriculum projects to integrate the study of lived religion into their teaching on religious diversity. The products of their hard work and creativity are available here, as downloadable resources. Feel free to use these curriculum projects as you find them, adapt them to the needs of your students, or just take a look and let them inspire your thinking. Click below to learn more and download the projects.
Sacred Gotham Field ResearchSelections from our summer scholars' original field research, along with practical resources for developing inquiry-based student fieldwork projects.
During each Religious Worlds institute, our summer scholars conduct field research on the religious life of Manhattan’s Upper West Side. We hope their work will inspire you to develop your own inquiry-based fieldwork projects. We would love to see teams of students — armed with notepads, smartphones, and sheer curiosity — fanning out across the country to explore the religious diversity of their own communities. Click below to learn about the Sacred Gotham fieldwork project, and find guidelines for student field research.
Essays by Institute Director Dr. Henry GoldschmidtExploring the conceptual foundations of lived religion pedagogy, student site visits to houses of worship, teaching lived religion through literature, and the challenges of teaching in the public sphere.
We hope you enjoy Dr. Goldschmidt’s work on the study of religion in K-12 schools — reflecting on theoretical, ethical, and pedagogic issues at the heart of the Religious Worlds institute. Click the titles to download:
“From World Religions to Lived Religion: Towards a Pedagogy of Civic Engagement in Secondary School Religious Studies Curricula.” In Civility, Religious Pluralism, and Education (eds. Vince Biondo and Andrew Fiala), pp. 177-192. Routledge, 2014.
“Being There: What Do Students Learn by Visiting Houses of Worship?” In CrossCurrents, Vol. 68, No. 3, Pp. 394-411. September 2018.
“Teaching Lived Religion through Literature: Classroom Strategies for Community-Based Learning.” In Teaching about Religion in the Social Studies Classroom, NCSS Bulletin #117 (ed. Charles Haynes), pp 53-60. National Council for the Social Studies, 2019.
“Teaching Critical Religious Studies in the World Religions Public Sphere.” In Teaching Critical Religious Studies: Pedagogy and Critique in the Classroom (eds. Jenna Gray-Hildenbrand, Beverley McGuire, and Hussein Rashid), pp 113-127. Bloomsbury Academic, 2023.
Organizations Supporting the K-12 Study of ReligionYou'll be pleased to learn there's a vibrant network of educators, policy makers, and community organizations working to support your teaching on religious diversity.
These are just a few of the academic and community-based organizations working to support the study of religious diversity in American K-12 schools. They know it’s essential to the health of our multicultural democracy! Click below to learn more, find resources, and connect with colleagues.
Teachers' Guides to the Study of Major Religious HolidaysDownloadable guides to Eid al-Fitr, Eid al-Adha, the Asian Lunar New Year, and Diwali, prepared by the New York City Department of Education.
Click on the cover images above to download these in-depth guides, created in 2015 by the NYC Department of Education’s Office of Curriculum, Instruction, and Professional Learning. The guides go far beyond the typical “foods, festivals, and funky clothes” approach to teaching about religious holidays.
Online Learning from the Religious Freedom CenterIncluding introductions to diverse faith traditions, pedagogic approaches to the study of religion, and First Amendment principles for engaging with religious pluralism.
Click here for a course catalog of on-demand, online learning modules from the “Constitution 2 Classroom” professional development program, developed by the Religious Freedom Center, in partnership with the Newseum and the Freedom Forum Institute.
Podcasts on Religious Diversity and the Study of ReligionEngaging audio journalism and public education from the Interfaith Center of New York, the Interfaith Youth Corps, and the fabulous religion nerds at Keeping it 101.
Podcasting brings the voices of religious diversity alive for you and your students, through intimate conversation and narrative journalism. Click on the images above or the links below for:
The Interfaith Center of New York’s “Interfaith Matters” podcast series, featuring conversations on social justice issues with New York religious and civic leaders.
The Interfaith Youth Corps’ “Common Knowledge” podcast series, focusing on interfaith literacy — the knowledge and skills required to be a leader in a religiously diverse world.
A lively introduction to the academic study of religion in the “Keeping it 101” podcast series, from scholars of religion Megan Goodwin and Ilyse Morgenstein Fuerst.
And click here to watch a special video episode of ICNY’s “Interfaith Matters” podcast, exploring religious literacy in New York public schools, through a conversation with New York City Council Member Daniel Dromm and a panel of leading religious diversity educators.
Resources to Combat Islamophobia and Other Forms of BigotryEssential tools for creating an inclusive classroom, from Teaching Tolerance, the US Department of Education, ING, and the Islamophobia Research & Documentation Project.
Muslims have been part of the fabric of American life since the 17th century, but the 21st century has unfortunately witnessed an alarming rise in Islamophobic hate speech, bullying, and bias attacks. Click below for resources that can help you create an inclusive classroom in today’s climate of religious bigotry and extremism, including:
2015 letter from then US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, with links to key resources
2015 blog post on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Teaching Tolerance website, with links to key resources
2020 report from the Islamophobia Research & Documentation Project, with extensive resources and references
lesson plans, fact sheets, and other resources from ING, the Islamic Networks Group
Academic Work on the Role of Religion in K-12 SchoolsBibliography including discussions of K-12 religion pedagogy, as well as debates about school prayer, holiday observance, and other important First Amendment issues.
These are just a few of the important books exploring the role of religion in American K-12 schools. Written by scholars, educators, policy makers, faith leaders, and others, these works explore a range of pedagogic, constitutional, civic, and political issues. Click below to join the conversation.
Academic Work on Lived Religion and American Religious DiversityBibliography including original research, theoretical arguments, and primary source collections, to help you teach about the everyday lives of diverse faith communities.
These are just a few of books that can introduce you to current scholarship on lived religion and American religious diversity. The academic study of religion has changed dramatically since influential but problematic texts like Huston Smith’s The World’s Religions. Click below to catch up on recent developments in the field.
Academic Work on the Religious Diversity of New York CityBibliography that allows you to explore the religious worlds of New York from the comfort of your own home – though we do hope you'll join us to explore them in person!
Scholars of religion love New York too! Historians, anthropologists, and others — they’ve all been drawn to the vibrant diversity of “the promised city” (in Moses Rischin’s classic phrase). There’s no substitute for experiencing the religious life of the city in person, but click below for your NYC religion reading list.
Novels and Films Set in Diverse American Religious CommunitiesFrom "The Chosen" to "Little Buddha" and far beyond – the study of literature and film can bring the texture of religious life into your classroom.
Texts and films like these can offer your students engaging portraits of individual spirituality and religious community life. They must be taught as creative works — not transparent representations of reality — but students can nevertheless learn a great deal through novels and films set in diverse faith communities. Click the following links to learn more about:
Novels Set in American Religious Communities
Feature Films Set in American Religious Communities