The Classroom

Specialized Reporting 585: Caste and Religion in India
Thursday April 19th, 2012

The objective of this course is to ensure that the next generation of reporters are comfortable covering religious beliefs and behaviors, faith-based institutions and the legal and political debates surrounding them, as well as current events at the intersection of ethics, religion or spirituality with politics and international relations. Specifically, the course’s focus is on caste in India and among Indians in the United States. Caste is a much-misunderstood social system that has arranged Indian society for centuries. Caste has its foundations in Hinduism, but it also delineates social, economic and political spheres for Sikhs, Muslims and Christians in India. At the very moment when India is posed to be a world power, how, where and why does caste impact its citizens? Moreover, how might caste affect Indians in Southern California? The class will look at the confluence of religion, race, and gender in the caste system and manifest in politics, economics and the family.

Arranged Marriage For Hindus In 21st Century America,” by Megan Sweas
Growing Beef Trade Hits India’s Sacred Cow,” by Arezou Rezvani, Benjamin Gottlieb and Elise Hennigan
A Tight Focus on the Spiritual Side of Transitioning,” by Emily Frost
Tibetan Refugees Fear India’s Crackdown on Activism,” by Megan Sweas
Indian NGO Attempts to Curb Spousal Abuse,” by Emily Frost
The Fire Next Time: Tibetan Protests Spread,” by Megan Sweas
Vermont Gurdwara: A Nexus for Immigrant Sikhs in Los Angeles,” by Benjamin Gottlieb
‘I Heart Turbans’: Sikh Student’s Apparel Designs Spark Inter-faith Dialogue,” by Arezou Rezvani

Specialized Reporting 585: Religion, Ethnicity and Coexistence (Case-study Israel Palestine)
Tuesday February 2nd, 2010

Whether it’s the rise of religiously inspired terrorism, the importance of faith-based NGOs in global relief efforts or the campaign to woo evangelical voters in the U.S., developments worldwide underscore religion’s role in public life. Americans who assumed society was becoming more and more secular have been surprised by religions’ rising visibility. Our mainstream media, unprepared for this resurgence, tends to ignore, underplay or trivialize religion’s importance in social, cultural and political news. This course is a corrective to that trend. Its objective is to ensure that reporters specializing in politics or any other beat are intellectually grounded in religious beliefs and behaviors, faith-based institutions and the legal and political debates surrounding them, as well as current discussions on the intersection of values and ethics in science, medicine, gender and sexuality. Equally important, it seeks to prepare reporters who will not be specialists to feel comfortable covering religion when it intersects with politics, science, welfare and housing, education and entertainment.

The course’s focus in 2011 is on the confluence of religion, ethnicity and coexistence among Jews, Muslims and Christians in Los Angeles and Israel. We will probe these fault-lines through class readings, lectures, screenings and discussions as well as outside reporting and writing. The syllabus is availablehere. Check out class blogs on Tumblr and at Krista Tippett’s “On Being.”

Articles published over the course of the semester:

Coexistence in Israel: A Tale of Two Communities” by Robyn Carolyn Price
Debate Over Religious Freedom in Syria Causes Anger in L.A. Diaspora” by Mary Slosson
Hebrew Lit Club Agrees to Disagree” by Christin Davis
Arab-Israeli Professor in Galilee Partners with Jewish University in Jerusalem” by Christin Davis
Reporting from the Perspective of 1948: A Profile of Jonathan Cook” by Jon Dillingham
Bereaved Families Create Social Media Space Aiming at Reconciliation, Not Protest” by Christin Davis
Haifa Cultural Center Builds Community Among Arabs and Jews” by Christin Davis
Israel: The Oil of Zion” by Andrew Khouri
Feminist Pioneer Challenges Orthodox Patriarchy” by Kevin Douglas Grant
A Home for Middle Eastern Gay Men to Celebrate Both Identities” by Andrew Khouri
A New Battle Over Resources in Israel” by Jon Dillingham
Repairing the World One Garden at a Time” by Robyn Carolyn Price
Tattoos and Torah: One Woman’s Journey to the Rabbinate” by Robyn Carolyn Price
Arab in Israel: Two Stories from Lod” by Mary Slosson
Love Lost and Found on Opposite Sides of Border” by Bethany Firnhaber
Banning the Burqa: Behind the Veil of France’s New Law” by Robyn Carolyn Price
Coexistence is in the Eye of the Beholder” by Jessica Donath
Jerusalem Time-lapse of Iconic Landmarks” by Albert Sabate
Palestinians in Israel Rally for Hamas-Fatah Cooperation” by Mary Slosson
March 15 in Nazareth” by Jon Dillingham
Israeli Ambassador Prompts Debate Over Campus Free Speech” by Jon Dillingham
Palestinian-American Supports His Hometown and More Through Religion” by Andrew Khouri
Some Afraid to Speak Up at UC Irvine” by Jon Dillingham
Law Enforcement and Muslim Communities in LA: A Lesson for Rep. King?” by Mary Slosson
Demonstrators Urge Boycott of Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra” by Albert Sabate
Palestinian-Lebanese Daughter Sings Despite Father’s Wishes” by Jon Dillingham
JDub Records Artist Clare Burson Takes Inspiration From a Relic” by Christin Davis
Freedom Within Bounds: Inside L.A.’s Eruv Communities” by Janine Rayford
Valentine’s Day: A Day for Marriage Equality?” by Jessica Donath
Mosque Approval in Southern California: Bellwether for the Rest of the Country?” by Mary Slosson

The course’s focus during the spring semester of 2010 was on the confluence of religion, politics and gender. Our exploration interwove the three through readings and lectures, reporting and writing both in Los Angeles and in Israel.

Blogs from J585 students posting from Israel in March, 2010 can be found in the “Higher Ground” forum at Neon Tommy, an online publication of the School of Journalism at USC Annenberg:

Additional articles published over the course of the Spring 2010 semester:

Paging Noah: Zookeepers Try to Repopulate Israel with Biblical Animals” by Sarah Grooters
A War Over Water Dries Up Good Will Between Jews, Arabs” by Sarah Grooters
Wildlife Preservationists Fight Expansion, Seek to Bring Back Animals of the Bible” by Kevin Patra
A Tenuous Coexistence in Jaffa” by Meghan McCarty
Israel’s First Woman Rabbi Reflects on Progress” by Len Ly
Entitlement Runs Deep in East Jerusalem” by Evan Pondel
Why Israeli Gays Opt for U.S. Surrogate Births” by Evan Pondel
Women of the Wall Challenge Israeli Laws” by Meghan McCarty
Biden Was Here. Now What?” by Tom Pfingsten
Religious Leaders Seek Interfaith Dialogue On Gay Rights,” by Jason Ma
Christian Right Concedes Homosexuals Will ‘End Up Getting What They Want’,” by Kevin Patra
Prop 8 Trial Finds Its Way to YouTube,” by John Adams
Anti-Gay Marriage Legal ‘Ministry’ Wants to Represent CA County in Prop 8 Trial,” Tom Pfingsten
Oscar-Nominated Ajami Depicts Reality of Second-Class Citizenship for Arab Israelis,” Meghan McCarty
Chef’s Fusion Cuisine Stirs Confusion among Jews,” Evan Pondel
Self-Defense or Just Another Exercise Fad?” by Evan Pondel

 

Specialized Reporting: Religion, Race and Culture
Wednesday October 1st, 2008

Whether the rise of religiously inspired terrorism, the importance of faith based NGOs in global relief and development, or campaigning for evangelical voters in the U.S., developments worldwide underscore religion’s role in public life. Americans who assumed society was becoming more and more secular have been surprised by religions’ rising visibility. Our mainstream media, unprepared for this resurgence, tends to ignore, underplay or trivialize religion’s importance in social, cultural and political news. This course is a corrective. Its objective is to ensure that reporters specializing in religion are intellectually grounded in religious beliefs and behaviors, faith-based institutions and the legal and political debates surrounding them, as well as current discussions on the intersection of values and ethics in science, medicine, gender and sexuality. Equally important, it seeks to prepare reporters who will not be specialists to feel comfortable covering religion when it intersects with politics, science, welfare and housing, education and entertainment.

Watch this space for student reporting from New Orleans, LA!

Student Work:

“God Loves Beauty” by B. Adriana Venegas-Chavez
“Art Therapy Post Katrina” by B. Adriana Venegas-Chavez
“Southern California Muslims Battle Islamophobia in a Post 9/11 World” by Brooke-Sidney Gavins
Film Chronicles Liberian Women’s Faith-Based Peace Movement” by Jennifer Hahn
Film Chronicles Liberian Women’s Faith-Based Peace Movement” by Jennifer Hahn
Election 08: How Race Sways the Vote in New Orleans” by Brooke-Sidney Gavins
Arab American Community Shifting to Democrats, Not Targeted by Either Campaign” by Jonathan Partridge
Slurs Against Muslims a Cover for Racism Against Blacks” by Brooke-Sidney Gavins
“Secular Voters Feel Abandoned, Ignored by Candidates” by Jennifer Hahn
“Young US Muslims Shift to Democrats This Election” by Kyla Cullinane
“McCain’s African-American Vote: L.A. Conservative Joe Hicks Is a Race-Weary Republican” by Tara Graham
“Spiritual, But Not Religulous” by Jennifer Hahn
“How Can Obama Win Over Evangelicals?” by Brooke-Sidney Gavins

Syllabus available here.

 

American Religion and Foreign Policy

Wednesday November 28th, 2007

This course looks at the intersection of American religion and foreign policy, exploring how missionaries and other people of faith have served as agents of “soft power.” It also examines how these agents of “soft power” have sometimes worked at cross purposes with elected officials attempting to shape foreign relations through the use of military and/or economic “hard power.”

Attachment: http://uscmediareligion.org/images/upload/REL499Flyer.pdf
 

News21 Initiative

Source: Initiative on the Future of Journalism Education

Monday July 30th, 2007

Student work:
Full Metal Lotus” in LA Weekly by Nick Street
Take a Breath”  in LA Times by Nick Street

Attachment:http://72.32.219.172/images/upload/News 21 syllabus.pdf

Sex, Hollywood, Politics and Science: An Introduction to Covering Religion
Friday July 20th, 2007

Student work:
Episcopalians Finding Role in Monastic Life” in The Washington Post by Lilly Fowler
Access Holywood” in The Revealer by Lilly Fowler
Unasked Questions for a Not-Quite Apology” in The Revealer by Lilly Fowler
Jesus Withdrawal” in The Revealer by Lilly Fowler
Faithful Politics” in The Revealer by Lilly Fowler
USC Trojans march for restored Torah; Backyard tashlich in Fairfax” in The Jewish Journal by Nick Street
Christian Scientists prepare to battle bird flu with prayer” for Religion News Service by Sarah Price Brown
Emergent Jews” in the Jewish Journal by Sarah Price Brown
Hindus turn to the internet for shopping, temple prayers” for Arkansas Democrat Gazette by Paritosh Bansal
‘Immigrant Hinduism’ takes distinctly American shape” for Religion News Service by Paritosh Bansal
Attachment:Flyer JOUR 444.pdf
JOUR 444 Syllabus.pdf

Religion, Media & Hollywood
Friday July 20th, 2007

Video of guest speakers available:
Marti Noxon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)
Marcia Dawkins (speaking on Prison Break)
Barbara Hall (Joan of Arcadia)
David Milch (Deadwood, NYPD Blue)
Nancy Miller (Saving Grace)
Ron Moore (Battlestar Galactica)
Kamran Pasha (Sleeper Cell)
David Shore (House, MD)
John Tinker (Judging Amy, The Practice)Star Trek Voyager and Religion (Alethea Ebb, Comm ’08)
Attachment:
COMM 499 Flyer.pdf
COMM 499 syllabus.pdf

Hollywood Jesus: From Mel Gibson to The Matrix
Friday July 20th, 2007

Attachment:
COMM 425 syllabus.pdf

History of Religion in America
Friday July 20th, 2007

Attachment:
REL481 Spring 2006 Flyer.pdf
REL 481 syllabus.pdf