Category Archives: Session: Teach

Creating Multi-Platform Digital Publications in Religion and Theology

I am interested in how others are using and designing vertically integrated content publication of religion and theology studies, and would like to share how I have been using multi-platform digital technology.

I propose to give a short presentation on my work on the Jesus Prayer (and hesychia: prayer and contemplation in silence) that was originally a doctoral thesis and ethnographic field study, that I’ve “outputted” into ten different platforms: dissertation, ethnographic film, trade book (HarperOne), mass-market feature film (theaters, digital downloads on iTunes, Amazon, and DVD), two websites (, music/meditation/prayer CD, PBS network special, Digital Study Guide, national public radio special (Columbia University Institute for Religion, Culture and Public Life), and an academic book (Fortress Press, Feb. 1, 2014).  All the same content; designed and adapted to be widely shared across every platform.

Then, the session can become a conversation about how others have implemented and are designing multi-platform (transmedia) dissemination.

Finally, if there’s time and interest, let’s do a think tank and brainstorming session on how to translate research and discoveries into multiple outputs, inside and outside academia. Take away a sketch of how your work can be digitally shared.

I am currently Adjunct Instructor at New York University’s Kanbar Institute of Film and Television (teaching history to media students), and Executive Producer/Host of a national public radio/podcast series titled “Rethinking Religion” from Columbia University’s Institute for Religion, Culture and Public Life. I completed my doctorate at Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York in 2008, interdisciplinary: Theology and the Arts.

Norris J. Chumley, Ph.D.

YouTubes on the World Religions: A Session for Blue Birds

I am withdrawing this session proposal.   Chris Cantwell has just informed me that handouts are not permitted in THATcamp sessions because they are incompatible with the collaborative nature of the camp.    Because we are precluded from sharing examples of course work associated with the use of YouTubes, or other materials we might share via handouts to contextualize the learning goals with which YouTubes are associated, I have determined that the proposed session is simply out of place for THATcamp.     Merely watching YouTubes without being able to share pedagogical resources with each other that we link with them seems to be an unproductive use of THATcamp time.

Student Ethnography on the Internet

UPDATE: A handout for this session can be found here:

Kyle Schiefelbein (Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary) and Martha Reineke (University of Northern Iowa) are proposing a session on courses or projects within courses that use the internet as a site for students’  ethnographic research.   We will be happy to have others join us in making presentations during this session.

Martha Reineke’s presentation:   Martha will report on how she used Writing Ethnographic Fieldnotes by Robert Emerson, Rachel Fretz, and Linda Shaw in a course on contemporary Judaism.  Writing Ethnographic Fieldnotes is aimed at beginning ethnographers; indeed, the authors propose a kind of “ethnography across the curriculum” use for their book.  Electronic ethnography is ideal for the rural location of Martha’s university, which poses a challenge for ethnographic research projects..  She will report on how she created assignments drawn from Writing Ethnographic Fieldnotes that enable students to conduct research in an electronic rather than actual field and complete ethnographic projects/reports. Key themes include acquainting students with insider/outsider categories, members’ meanings, etc. 

Kyle Schiefelbein’s presentation:  Another component of ethnography is examining the quantitative data available, especially when crafting a study on a particular geographic area.  Kyle will report on how his students engage in online demographic study to supplement their congregational ethnographies for a first-year seminary course.  Such study includes census data, relationships to civil society partners, crime statistics, and data provided by the congregation, the judicatory and other denominational studies.  We will also investigate what to actually do with this data and how to present in a full ethnographic study.

Martha and Kyle are not experts in ethnography but have found it to be a useful resource for working with students.  For Martha, when students learn ethnographic research methods, they are more able to approach religious websites with an eye for insider/outsider meanings and to use their critical thinking skills within a next context.   Kyle has engaged in the practice while doing his own studies of congregations and teaching students how to “read’ their congregations.  These observational skills, including field notes, interviews and quantitative data analysis, can transcend disciplines in the humanities.