To Our Readers October 2021

The Covering Religion seminar at Columbia University has been traveling abroad on study-tours almost every spring since 2000. That year the class traveled to Israel and Jordan to follow the pilgrimage of Pope John Paul II to the Holy Land. Since that first trip, the class has traveled to Israel and the Palestinian Territories as well as to Russia and Ukraine, Ireland and Northern Ireland, Italy and India.

On each trip, students wrote articles about the study-tour and about region we visited. Some of these articles were done on the road and others were added when we returned to New York from our travels. These included print stories as well as photo essays and audio and video features.

In 2020, the class planned a domestic trip. We prepared to travel to Louisiana and Mississippi and planned to focus on religion in the American South. We were making our plans even as the coronavirus was spreading across the United States. Days before our departure in mid-March, we had to cancel the trip because of the health situation. Soon afterward, the University closed its doors and we switched to virtual learning on Zoom for the rest of the semester.

In addition to our regular assignments of the Ritual Moment and the Teaching Moment, we added a third assignment, the Coping Moment. Students refocused their reporting on religion in the New York area and wrote largely about how houses of worship reorganized their worship and their mission to cope with the pandemic.

The following spring, 2021, began hopefully with the development of vaccines to fight COVID but the class was unable to travel. We focused again on religion in New York.

In these webpages, articles from 2020 and 2021 – let’s dub them the Corona classes – are combined under Features. We also put the bios of students from those years together on our Who We Are page.

As we approach 2022, we are hopeful that the Covering Religion class will be able to travel abroad once again. Our hope is that the class will return to Israel/Palestine, the region we last visited in 2019. We will soon add a new landing page for 2022.