The religious institution
This course introduces students to the empathetic approach to the study of world religions, which requires that we strive to “get into the shoes” of members of the world’s religions through dialogue. In order to help students understand and become familiar with the life of some members of world’s religions, students in the course are asked to visit a religious institution or VRI in their local city. You will then write what is called a VRI paper that captures your experience in detail. Think of the paper as a report on the institution combined with your reflections on the experience. In this paper you are asked to describe the institution, and its relation to the various traditions that you study, among other things (for example, identify whether the institution is a church in the Protestant or Catholic tradition; whether the institution is a Jewish synagogue in the Reform tradition; or if it is a Buddhist temple, whether it is Theravada). Be sure to read the Rubric for the VRI paper assignment for further details.
NOTE: The religious institution that I picked was a Chapel Annex to speak with Chaplain Elias J. Paulk of the Roman Catholic religion.
SOLID EVIDENCE PARTIAL EVIDENCE
CRITERIA 1: USE OF SOURCES Does the paper use credible sources? Accurate
information from the institution’s “insiders,”
especially interviews of leaders and/or members; then
group’s website & other publications. Anything they
say about themselves should take priority. Also
important is information from students’ personal
observations during visit (things you would say or
point out). RSL1.1; CC1.2
Information is accurate; resources are
legitimate; resources include interviews of
insiders and are varied.
Information is accurate with only a
few minor errors; resources good
but not varied enough.
Information does not include
interviews is unreliable, based
on second-hand account, or
inaccurate; resources are
generally not valid
CRITERIA 2: BROAD CONTENT (8 dimensions)
Does the paper cover a broad spectrum of content
about the institution?
Information collected on the institution must include
the following eight dimensions: 1) description of
geographical location and history of group in Tampa;
2) the particular religious tradition the group claims
to represent; 3) defining beliefs and practice
(according to them); 4) meeting times, common
forms of worship and prayer; 5) leadership of the
group, and number of members; 6) “outsider” and
“insider” views of the group’s relationship to local
community); 7) and an “insider” answer to this
question: “What are some things you wish others
knew about your tradition?” DO NOT LEAVE
OUT #7; 8) general reflection on your overall
experience and how it illuminates or challenges
readings in class. RSL1.2
Paper includes all eight dimensions. Leaves out one to three dimensions
Includes five or less dimensions.
Is there a substantive and meaningful use of
Information is complete and helpful; notes
any convergence and divergence among
Information is only mostly complete
Incomplete, incorrect, and/or
CRITERIA 3: WRITING EFFECTIVELY
COMMUNICATES BROAD CONTENT CC1.2
Paper tells a story about your experience of this
Experiences of the institution described
vividly, clearly relevant, and help reader
feel as if they had visited the religious
For the most part creative additions
are helpful in telling the story but
distract from the “broad content”
from criteria 2.
Creative narrative has little to do
with the institution and broad
content of the paper.
Does the paper have a logical flow?
Paper is coherent, with clear introduction,
language use, and conclusion; demonstrates
extensive and intimate knowledge of the
subject as well as all criteria of the rubric.
Paper is coherent for the most part
but missing important elements
from the broad content criteria. Few
spelling and grammatical errors
Paper lacks coherence. Spelling
and grammar errors are frequent
and distract from content.
REL 223 World Religions in Dialogue – VRI Paper Rubric. This assignment is worth 30 points. For each item, Solid Evidence = 7-10; Partial Evidence = 3-7; Little to No Evidence = 0-2