STUDY ABROAD (SPRING SEMESTER)
Study Abroad program serves the main mission of FEBA by bringing Balkan American youth of different cultural and religious backgrounds together to understand one another, introducing their own cultural and religious resources that make their centuries long moderate and reasonable culture of coexistence, assist to build a character of peace, filling the potential gaps of knowledge that can be abused to lead into extreme ideologies and radical reactions, enriching their transcript with college credits and networking.
The common ground of being descendent of the same mother and father make us a global family. Throughout history, some differences were established in religion, culture, and belief systems. In periods where these differences are considered with mutual respect and honor, societies have free and peaceful life while in other cases there were always enmity, hatred, envy, and chaos.
In cultures and societies where religion is not learnt but “inherited” or “heard” from parents, faith is accepted without internalizing. In time, religion becomes a collection of rituals and obligations that are isolated from values and morals in the rush of bargaining with God for a reward in hereafter. In the business of exchanging worship for paradise, the relation between practice and values, the wisdom and meaning behind forms of worship in relation to morals and values diminish in time.
As the common grounds of the Abrahamic traditions are mostly on the issues of faith, values, and morals and meaning; reduction of religion into rituals also drifts the believers away from the common grounds of the Abrahamic religions. The ignorance on the common grounds of faith, morals and values leaves room for people to be polarized and alienation of others. The migration of people of different faiths and backgrounds to the West made this fact more sensitive and imperative. In last decade some of the topics of conflict in western society are more public and a rich literature is circulating.
In this program, we will engage in philosophical discussions on common fundamental topics of Abrahamic traditions, such as the purpose of creation, belief in God, worship and supplication. The overall approach will be concentrating on the meaning, arguments of these common concepts (as answer to “why” questions) rather than the forms and answers to “how” questions on the topics. We will also get a chance to examine the most debated contemporary issues such as interfaith dialogue and the misunderstanding of “Jihad” in both Western and Muslim worlds. This program attempts to dispel these misconceptions, allowing students to examine the religion on its roots and foundations of meaning.
FEBA STUDY ABROAD PROGRAM COURSE DELIVERY METHODS
Weekly Course Schedule:
- 3 class hours for each topic lecture as well as Questions & Answers
- 1 class hour will consist of group study and presentation preparation.
- 1 class hour will consist of group presentations.
One of the objectives of this course is to help students learn to think critically and have an articulate expression of their own thoughts and ideas in written form. As a requirement of this course, students are asked to write a total of 2 essays. Students will write an essay on the topic according to the instructor’s planning.
Writing assignments are neither the report of assigned readings nor a summary of general conclusions. Students are expected to elaborate on the topic with an emphasis on the reading assignments and class notes but not limited to them.
Writing assignments must contain the following components:
- A compelling title
- Main point and supporting arguments
- Reference to the specifics of the reading assignments.
Students are required to do their analysis and may consult with the professor if assistance is needed. The essays must be at least 2 pages long, include references, double-spaced, and typed in Times New Roman with 12-font size. Essays are due at the planned time of the instructor.
One of the objectives of this course is to help students present what they know in the most effective form according to their audience. As a requirement of this course, students are asked to prepare presentations in group settings on weekly topics. Presentations are prepared in the 4th period of the course aiming to cultivate communication skills on the subjects learnt with the insight of the professor and peer discussions.
Groups should consists of 4-5 students from the class. All students must contribute the discussion. Group discussion will be recorded by the one of the group members. Only this member will use electronic device in discussion time. After discussion completed another group member will make the presentation to whole class in the 5th period of the course. One of the most important point in this presentation is reflecting the ideas of all group members. Both duties will be performed in rotation by all group members in different periods of the time.
Students are encouraged to ask questions to the presenter. Presentations are not intended to be the summary of the lectures. Students should think of an audience, define the scope of the presentation topic in accordance to the time limit and design the delivery of the topic accordingly in a convincing method. The presentations can be in PowerPoint format while students are free to use any other method to support their communication such as videos and online tools.
The final project is open ended in format and intended to unleash the creativity of the students in intellectual leadership. Students are asked to design a project to share what they learned with audiences they are familiar with in western societies. Different from the class presentations in which students are primarily evaluated with the content of the message, the final project is structured to be a communication project design. Project content is the only part students are limited as being required to pick one of the 8 main topics in the syllabus, however the rest of the project is open ended and students are encouraged to be creative. Students are also required to submit the details of the project in written format along with a class presentation. Project papers needs to be at least 8 pages in length including references, double-spaced, Times New Roman in 12 font size.
Final project assignments must contain the following components:
- A compelling project title or campaign name
- Definition of the targeted audience and its characteristics.
- Method of reaching out to the audience
- The content of the message including references to the class material and reading assignments
- Method of delivery of the message
Students can pick a small audience like Bosnian American high school students in Brooklyn, NY, or a larger audience such as the first generation immigrant community in the US. The content of the message in the project can be broader than the weekly topics for example “common grounds of essentials of faith in Abrahamic religions”. However, one of the sample subtopic of the main message should be related to course topics and student should give the details of that selected message content. Method of delivery can be as open ended as including audio, video, drama or a web site formats. Method of reaching out is open ended as well ranging from viral social media campaigns to classical methods.