Specifications for Written Projects
Your report must be typed (using a computer), double-spaced on 8 1/2 x 11"  white paper and stapled on the left-hand comer. Your report should have standard margins and contain two-three pages of written text.  The use of outside sources is not required, but if you do draw from publications, include a bibliography and footnotes.


For this assignment conduct an interview someone else whose background is different from your own and then reflect on the differences between how spirituality is expressed in their life as compared to your own. Topics to address:

First ideas about god (s) and higher power
Experience with prayer and/or worship
Have you been initiated? (e.g. baptism, communion, bar mitzvah, quinceanera)  Describe…
Do you believe there is a God?
Do you have a personal relationship with your God? (e.g. prayer, voices, conversations)
When did you become aware of religious practices other than your own?  What impact did that have on your own practice?
Have you used drugs/alcohol in your religious practice?  Have they helped you communicate with your God?
Do you believe in salvation?  If so, have you been saved?
How does your spiritual practice affect your personal life?  (e.g. social activities, restrictions regarding sexual expression)
What connections (if any) have you found between sex and religion?  

Reflections:  Step back and reflect on why you practice religion as you do.  If you’ve interviewed someone else, reflect on the differences in their background (age, gender, ethnicity, and class) that may explain the differences between you and them.


For this exercise you will need to attend a religious event you have never been to before. Come with the eyes and ears of an anthropologist and make note of everything the "natives" do. You can go alone, be the guest of a "key informant," or go with a co-researcher from class. In writing your report, try to use terms we’ve discussed in class. Make special note of how this research experience affects you. Be prepared to present a brief oral report as well.

Possible Field Observation Topics

12-Step Meeting Mainstream Worship Service (Catholic, Protestant, Jewish) Rosh Hashanah/Taschlich, Yom Kippur,
Sweat Lodge,  Buddhist Meditation (Chinese/Thai/Japanese),  Islamic Mosque, Dia de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead)
Nation of Islam,  UFO Meeting,  New Age Practices,   Jehovah’s Witness, Thai Chi,  Yoga, Sunday Assembly (aetheist),  Hare Krishna Center,  Palm/Card Reader,  Vedanta Society,  Hindu Temple, Passover Seder, Summer/Winter Solstice, Wicca (Witchcraft),  Pagan Ritual, Native American Ceremony,  Tantric Puja,  Easter Sunday Service, Fall/Spring Equinox

Outline for Field Observation

Title Page: (name of paper [pick something creative!], your name, name of course, instructor’s name, date of completion)

Introduction: (where you went, who went with you (e.g. co-researchers/key informants), what you studied and what you were able to observe)

Field Research Methods: What methods did you use? (participant-observation? interviews? )  Include reflections on how you felt (Did you experience culture shock?)

Description of Cultural Activities:

Physical Environment: (size and design of space, furniture arrangement, visible symbols, colors, smells, and sounds)
Time: (time of day, length of ceremony, awareness of time)
Participants: (age, gender, economic/social class, dress, roles played in gathering)
Ritual Activities: (formal and informal activities, symbolic behaviors)
Cultural Behaviors: (language, dress, initiations, cultural rules/protocols specific to this gathering, sample interactions /behaviors)

Conclusion/Interpretation:  (What religious ideas were expressed?  What is the cultural context of the gathering? (ethnic, historical, political, social)  Was there an individual/personal or collective/community emphasis in the ideas and actions expressed?  What needs does this culture satisfy and how does it satisfy them?  (Why do people attend? What values, assumptions, and beliefs are expressed?) In what ways are the cultural practices effective?)

Areas for Further Research: (If you were return, what would you focus on?)


For this project you are invited to engage in an activity that can produce an altered state.  In our discussion about the origins of religious prophecy, we’ll note that often the visions reported occurred when the prophet or shaman was under the influence of an entheogen (hallucinogen that generates a god-message).    

For this assignment, do not engage in any activity that is illegal, that you are uncomfortable doing or that you fear could be harmful.  Possible activities could include meditation, yoga, fasting, drumming, chanting, sleep deprivation, spinning in circles, intense dancing or intense exercise.   

For your report begin by describing what you did, what you imagined you might feel and what you actually felt.  Did you experience non-duality (at oneness with the universe)?  Did you receive any messages?   Conclude with your assessment of why humans, especially, seek access to altered states.

Things to Keep In Mind For Written Assignments

When using a computer, back-up your work on a thumb drive or on a cloud
Proofread! Read your paper aloud to catch awkward sentences.
Use “spell check,” but remember the three forms: their / they’re / there …and two / to / too
Spell alter and altar correctly!
Leave one space after a comma.
Spell out numbers under 11.
Spell any number that is at the beginning of a sentence.
A sentence needs a subject and a verb—otherwise it’s a fragment.
Write in your own words! If you want to maintain the exact wording of another source, use quotation marks or single space and indent the copied section and then use footnotes.
Don’t use words that you don’t understand.
Avoid “run-on-sentences,” by keeping your ideas focused.
Follow rules for proper hyphenation—divide words between syllables, making sure the second half begins with a consonant.
“Keep punctuation marks inside of quotation marks.”
Get help by turning in an early rough draft and/or at using the LAVC campus writing center in LARC 229.  (818) 947-2810  Email: writingtutor@lavc.edu

Bibliography Format:

*Alphabetize by author's last name, italicize publications, put quotes around articles and designate page numbers.

For a book:
Terray, Carl
Demon Haunted Town; New York:  Monthly Review Press

For an article in a magazine, newspaper, or book:
Dalton, George
2004 "The Burning of Witches,” American Anthropologist No. 76 September 2004, p. 553.

For an oral communication (speech/interview):
Jackson, Miranda
    2017 Personal Communication, Van Nuys, CA,  January 10, 2017

For a television program:
Thomas, Stanley
     2013 "Voodoo in Haiti," Nova Series, PBS Television

For an Internet site:
Chappel, Clinton (Important to FIND the author and the full name of the site)
    2015 “Sorcery in San Francisco,” http://www.geocities.com/prostitution/SF, May 14, 2015   (date retrieved)                                                                                                             


For a direct quote: if it is four lines or more single space and indent, eg.

A man does not have full status in social life until he is married: has no
household of his own, and he is debarred from many privileges; hence
except for the physically and mentally handicapped, all mature Trobriands
        marry (Symons, 1979:113)

Referring to an author’s idea, but not quoting them directly:

Leakey (2015) saw than bipedalism was a natural adaptation to a savanna environment where more could be seen by standing upright.

Referring to ideas of an author without using the author’s name in your text:

The advantages of an omnivorous diet are numerous, especially in that intense foraging becomes possible in a limited area (Franklin, 2016).