Careful Conversation Fieldwork Assignment
A tool for productive discussions with religiously diverse peers.
In 2014, Dr. Sid Brown participated in a Teaching Interfaith Understanding faculty development seminar, run in partnership between the Council of Independent Colleges and Interfaith Interfaith America, and generously funded by the Henry Luce Foundation. For information on future seminars, and to access more resources created by seminar alumni, visit The Council of Independent Colleges.
About This Assignment
The following assignment was developed by Dr. Sid Brown as a part of her Asian Religions course at
Sewanee: The University of the South. The assignment works to push students’ boundaries to have a careful discussion with someone whose religious understandings and practices are different from their own. In class, Dr. Brown takes a full 50 minutes to help students learn how to do deep listening and to understand the kind of conversation she is inviting before giving them the activity guidelines. The students then go out on their own to have a careful conversation with a person they think has different “religious inclinations” than they do, and write a short paper on that experience. The text below is an annotated version of the handout that Dr. Brown uses in her course, including some of the in-class exercises she uses; the annotations help describe how the students are prepared for the work.