ASIA 131 Introduction to Asian Religions
You will conduct a short interview with a person of your choice on the
topic of religion. You will design seven (7) questions yourself and before the
interview write a paragraph or two about your process and thoughts for
designing your seven questions and your expectations about the interview. Then
you will conduct the interview, type it, and write a paragraph or two
reflecting on the project.
Purpose of this Assignment
The first purpose of this assignment is to have students reflect on the
kinds of questions scholars of religion ask of themselves and others when they
study religion. The second purpose of this assignment is to have students hear
and convey the point of view of another individual, considering their
experiences of and thoughts about religion.
assignment will be three parts submitted in one document.
Part One will be one or two
paragraphs explaining how you designed your questions and why you are asking
them, and a reflection on what you expect the answers to your questions might
be. In other words: what do you hope to learn from doing your interview?
All of your questions should in some way relate to the themes and ideas
in our course. The best way to do this is to use our course materials,
especially Ninian Smart’s “Seven Dimensions of Religion”. You may also want to
use the first chapter of the textbook. Explain in this part how your questions
relate to our course.
Part Two will be the actual interview, which you will transcribe
(type) and put in your assignment. Before you conduct your interview make sure
the person you are interviewing understands you will use their answers and
submit them as part of an assignment. Ask them not to reveal anything personal.
Here are the answers to a few
questions that might arise when designing and doing your interview:
Q. Who can I interview?
A. You can interview almost any person you choose (friend, relative,
classmate – any one except yourself). If you cannot find anyone to do the
interview contact your instructor at least one week before the due date of the
assignment and you can be paired with another student randomly.
Q. Should I explain whom I interviewed?
reveal personal information about the person you interview (name,
phone number, address, etc.). All you need to provide is how you know the
person (family, friend, work, etc.).
Briefly describe your relationship to them. Other details about the person that
come out during the interview are acceptable (their religion, their place of
birth, etc.) as long as they are comfortable sharing these details and the
details do not reveal personal information. This should be done in Part Three (below).
How do I do the interview?
A. You can do the interview in person (face to face) or using
technology. You may do the interview
by telephone, Skype, Zoom, or any meeting application you like. It is preferred
that interviews are not done by email or text message, if possible.
Q. Should I record the interview?
A. If both you
and the person you are interviewing are comfortable you can record the
interview, but do not submit the recording with the assignment. You may use the recording to help you
record the answers to your questions. If
you choose to record the interview you should let the person you are
Which language should the interview be
The assignment must be submitted in English, but you
may do the interview in any language
you like. If you do the interview in a language other than English, you must
(a) translate both the questions and answers to English in Part Two and (b) include the original interview
(questions and answers) in the original language at the end of the same
document (this will not count towards the word count). Mistakes in
capitalization, punctuation, and spelling in the answers will be penalized.
Does it matter which religion the person follows?
It does not matter which religion the person follows,
or if they do not follow any religion. Design your questions so that they will
bring up answers regardless of who is being asked the questions.
Q. How many questions do I ask?
Can they be related to each other?
A. You will ask exactly seven questions, please number them “1” to
“7”, with their answers. Your interview
should explore more than one topic or theme, but some questions can be related
to others. Avoid being too repetitive.
Q. Should the interview discuss
one religion in particular or religion general?
A. Your questions should be mostly about religion in general, but it
is acceptable if the person you interview speaks about only one or a few
particular religions. Let them speak freely.
Part Three will be your
reflection after your interview has been completed. Briefly explain who your
interview subject was (without revealing personal information or their name)
and how the interview was conducted (over the phone, which language, etc.).
Explain what you learned by conducting the interview and how you might change
your questions if you did it again.
Below are three sample questions. You may not use them for your
interview, but they should give you a sense of what interesting interview
questions related to our course might look like.
1. What do the words “religious
experience” mean to you?
2. Can you describe a time
religious art has emotionally moved you?
3. What role do you think religion
has in the 21st century?
You are strongly recommended to use our reading by Ninian Smart, “The
Seven Dimensions of Religion” in designing your questions. You can also use our
textbook if you find it useful.
Part One and Part Three combined should be 300 words (plus or minus 50
words). Part Two (the interview) should have seven questions and seven answers,
there is no required minimum word count for this part. This word count does not
include the works cited section (if you include one).
Your project will be graded on the quality, creativity, and depth of your
writing, your clarity and precision in writing, your use of formal academic
English, and your adherence to the assignment guidelines. See “Basic
Expectations” below and the document “Essentials for Formal Academic Writing”
on Moodle (under “Documents”).
You do not need to do extra
research for this assignment aside from the assigned material. You may also use the previously assigned
homework (see Course Outline or Moodle) and recommended resources (see above).
Late assignments will be penalized 10% per day late. The first “day late”
begins one minute after the paper deadline, and will be assessed from the time
of the assignment upload rather than any email communications.
There are some basic expectations a student should consider in preparing
their paper. “Good” papers will meet all these expectations. “Excellent” papers
will go beyond these basic expectations.
Evidence – are you providing relevant evidence (from
the assigned materials) to support your ideas? (Applies to Parts One and Three.)
Analysis – are you thinking critically about the
evidence provided? Are you reflecting on comparisons not directly given in the assigned
materials? (Applies to Parts One and Three.)
Relevance – are the pieces of information and ideas
you are presenting and discussing relevant to the assignment? (Applies to Parts
One and Three.)
Originality – are you bringing something new to the
discussion rather than listing facts or the ideas of others?
Clarity – are you writing in a way that clearly
demonstrates your comprehension of the material? Are you writing in a way that
presents your ideas to you reader logically and with purpose?
You are required to provide citations of your assigned reading or
homework in your paper. You are also only permitted to cite the texts assigned
to you or your assigned homework – extra or additional research in this
assignment will be ignored (or penalized if it is inappropriate). This is done
to ensure students are engaging with the assigned materials that were carefully
selected by the instructor. Moreover this ensures that every student has
exactly the same access to the same resources.
Examples of forbidden sources include (but are not limited to) Wikipedia,
Coursehero, and Prezi. Other sources not on the course outline will not be
permitted. Grade penalties will be given for use of these sources, even if
You are not permitted to cite “class notes” given by the instructor.
Instead, find the evidence in the assigned homework. Citing “class notes” or
“class lecture” will result in a grade penalty – use the homework as
There is no minimum or maximum number of citations required, however a
good paper includes at least one citation from the homework or class resources.
For this assignment you are asked to use MLA style formatting. You should have
a works cited list, but you do not need an annotated bibliography. In- text
citations should be done as parenthetical notes. If your paper consists
primarily of quotations (cited or not) it does not fulfil the requirements of
the assignment will be assessed as such.
Below are links to Columbia College’s MLA Citation Guide (8th
Edition). You should review it before you start writing. These are the most
important links, and this guide will answer almost any question you might have
about MLA citations.
How Do I Cite Books and
eBooks? Videos & DVDs
Works Cited List
and Sample Paper
If you are using a source from our course and the citation information
(such as publisher, etc.) is not available in the document or on the relevant
Moodle page please contact the instructor and the Moodle page will be updated.
Your paper should include a word count and a works cited section. There
is no required number of paragraphs for your paper, but good academic writing
does require papers to be divided into logical paragraphs. Please only submit
one document (your paper and works cited will be in one document/file). This is
a short writing assignment, but it should include a brief and appropriate
introduction and conclusion. Please number your seven questions and answers.
Submitting your paper
paper will be submitted online through Moodle. You will save your paper as a Microsoft Word document (.doc or .docx only). Handwritten or printed
assignments will not be accepted. Do not submit your assignment by email. See this video prepared
by the Columbia College Learning Centre about how to submit assignments on
Moodle. You will find the space to
submit your paper on Moodle.
Note on “pre-reading” of assignments
Please note that your instructor will not read all or part of your
assignment in advance. However, if you have any questions about the assignment
you are encouraged to bring such questions to office hours or send them by
Because of the nature of the assignment I will not be approving questions
before the assignment is due, however I will clarify any aspect of the
requirements if they are unclear. A significant aspect of this assignment is
evaluating the kinds of questions students develop on their own.
Cheating and Plagiarism Policy
For a detailed tutorial about avoiding plagiarism see the Columbia College Library Plagiarism Tutorial and the Course Outline for this course. You must be informed about what plagiarism
is and how to avoid it. There will not be exceptions made for not understanding
what constitutes plagiarism. Your questions for this assignment should
all be original.
Plagiarism for this assignment includes not only published and online
sources but also the work of other students. You are not permitted to work in
groups or help one another for this assignment. Any evidence of cheating or
plagiarism will result in a penalty, which can include a failing grade for the
assignment. If it is apparent two or more students have collaborated on their
papers all students involved will receive a penalty, regardless of which
student(s) produced the original work. Do not plagiarize from others and do not
allow others to plagiarize from you.
Turnitin Similarity will be used to assess the academic integrity of this
assignment. For more information see the Course Outline.
Please do not post your
questions on the discussion forum.