REL 502 Public Humanities & Religious Studies: Foundations

Class sessions: M 1:30-3:20 pm

Instructor: Nathan Loewen
Email: We will mostly communicate through the REL 502 channel of the Religion in Culture Slack.

Phone: 205-348-3467
Office: Manly 301; Student consultation hours will be available by appointment. Please email me!

Course Description

This graduate seminar introduces students to public humanities and digital humanities approaches to the study of religion. Students learn methods and tools for conducting digital research and explore ways to communicate theoretical and religious studies research to public audiences through digital media. Students are introduced to a number of digital tools for research, scholarly communication, and public engagement and will work to apply those tools to their individual research interests and goals.

Course Objectives

  • The course will provide an introduction to the public humanities in religious studies.
  • The course will introduce digital tools and platforms for scholarly communication and public engagement.
  • The course will discuss the current state of public humanities in the field of religious studies.

Student Learning Outcomes

In this course, we will:

  • Develop IT-oriented competencies for effective data management.
  • Learn the basics of internet privacy and security.
  • Review the current state of public humanities among religious studies scholars, research groups and institutions.
  • Apply the principles of design to build effective websites for public outreach.
  • Learn the elements of digital project management for websites, audio and video.
  • Create digital projects related to our research interests using Adobe Creative Cloud applications.

Course Materials

Required technology

A computer capable of installing and running Adobe Creative Cloud.

A high-speed internet connection.

A headphone with an integrated microphone.

Installation of free software available to UA students through the Office of Information Technology.

Required Texts

There are no required texts for this course. All materials will be posted on the course schedule.

Class Requirements

See the course page for our schedule, our assignments and the class sessions in which they are due.

Participation (20%)

You are required to attend all our class sessions. You are also required to complete all “prep” listed in the course schedule prior to the day of that session.

Please note: participation includes the use of Hypothesis, which will be our social reading platform. Use it to enhance our discussions of the readings with questions, comments, links, images and other content you find relevant.

Slack posts (20%)

Throughout the course, you will be asked to compose reflections on our course. Please post these to our Slack the day prior to our class session. On-time, thoughtful posts merit full grades. Late posts, regardless of their content, will merit half grades.

Experiments (40%)

Throughout the course, you will be asked to experiment with a variety of media production platforms.These are early ideas, incomplete, alpha, .0 versions but they are meant to introduce you to a few basic tools for presenting scholarship to public audiences. Please post your experiments to our Slack the day prior to our class session. On-time posting of the experiments merit full grades. Late posting will severely hamper our ability to discuss your experiments.

Adobe spark page – 10%

Explainer using Adobe spark video – 10%

Podcast experiment – 20%

Video experiment – 20%

Course Policies

As this is a graduate seminar, you are expected to attend the class, be prepared for the class, and participate in the class. Assignments and projects are expected to be completed on time. If you miss class for any reason please let me know promptly so we can ensure you don’t fall behind. Unexcused absences, frequent tardiness, or a lack of participation will lower your grade for the course. If you have any questions or concerns about the course I am happy to talk to you.

The grade scale for the course is based on satisfactory completing the above requirements. Students will be consulted individually by the instructor if their work is unsatisfactory.:

  • A         Satisfactory completion of all requirements
  • B         Satisfactory completion of at least 90% of the requirements
  • C         Satisfactory completion of at least 80% of the requirements
  • D         Satisfactory completion of at least 70% of the requirements
  • F          Satisfactory completion of less than 70% of the requirements

University of Alabama Policies

COVID Statement for Fall 2020

All University faculty, staff, and students are expected to maintain a commitment to the health and safety of our campus community.  Due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, specific health and safety standards are in place to minimize exposure and community spread on campus.  All students must be familiar with and abide by the requirements outlined in the UA Return Plan | UA System Comprehensive Health and Safety Plan.   Students must (1) wear a mask or face covering at all times while participating in face-to-face class sessions; and (2) adhere to social distancing standards.  More information on these requirements and UA Healthcheck system and screening can be found at  You are expected to visit the site and comply with all noted requirements related to in-person class attendance.

Academic Honor Code:

All students in attendance at The University of Alabama are expected to be honorable and observe standards of conduct appropriate to a community of scholars. The University of Alabama expects from its students a higher standard of conduct than the minimum required to avoid discipline. At the beginning of each semester and on tests and projects, at the discretion of the instructor, each student will be expected to sign an Honor Pledge. The Academic Honor Pledge reads as follows:

I promise or affirm that I will not at any time be involved with cheating, plagiarism, fabrication, or misrepresentation while enrolled as a student at The University of Alabama. I have read the Academic Honor Code, which explains disciplinary procedures that will result from the aforementioned. I understand that violation of this code will result in penalties as severe as indefinite suspension from the University.

Code of Academic Conduct:

Academic misconduct includes all acts of dishonesty in any academic or related matter and any knowing or intentional help, attempt to help, or conspiracy to help, another student commit an act of academic dishonesty. Academic dishonesty includes, but is not limited to, the following acts, when performed in any type of academic or academically related matter, exercise, or activity: cheating, plagiarism, fabrication, and misrepresentation.

Compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act:

In keeping with its mission and in accordance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, The University of Alabama is committed to providing persons with disabilities an equal opportunity to participate in and benefit from all programs and services conducted or sponsored by the University. See the Office of Disability Services website for more information. ODS is the central contact point for students with disabilities at UA. Services for students focus upon providing accommodations and services to help meet University demands, while promoting student responsibility and self-advocacy. Students who choose not to self-identify when they enter UA do not forfeit their right to identify themselves and to receive accommodations at a later date. However, UA is not obligated to provide accommodations or services for students with disabilities until students are registered with ODS. Students must also make known their need for accommodations each semester. For more information on The University of Alabama student policies, see the Student Handbook.

UAct Statement

The University of Alabama is committed to an ethical, inclusive community defined by respect and civility. The UAct website ( provides extensive information on how to report or obtain assistance with a variety of issues, including issues related to dating violence, domestic violence, stalking, sexual assault, sexual violence or other Title IX violations, illegal discrimination, harassment, child abuse or neglect, hazing, threat assessment, retaliation, and ethical violations or fraud.

History of the Capstone Creed

The Capstone Creed was created by the Student Leaders Council. In the spring of 2000, a discussion of campus culture among student leaders led to an effort to identify the core values that sustain us as members of the University community. The Student Leaders Council recognized that the Capstone experience is not limited to our formal affiliation with the University during enrollment and that the University community does not end at the geographic boundaries of campus. As members of the Capstone community, there is a common thread that unites us all, and the Student Leaders Council has endeavored to make those core values manifest
through the implementation of a campus-wide creed with which all Capstone stakeholders can identify.