Philosophy Fellowship

Boston University 2019 Karbank Philosophy Fellowship

Exploring Religions Project

In summer 2019, I attended the services of ten different religious communities and interviewed ten members from the respective religion. I approached the project with a goal of gaining a better understanding of each religious tradition and its connection to happiness. This project took place in the San Francisco Bay Area.

The ten religious communities were:

  1. Church of Scientology

  2. St. Francis Catholic Church

  3. Evergreen Islamic Mosque

  4. Buddhist Church Betsuin

  5. Congregation Sinai Synagogue

  6. Sikh Gurdwara

  7. Sri Lakshmi Ganapathi Temple

  8. Center for Spiritual Enlightenment

  9. Baha'i Center

  10. Jain Center of Northern California

The goal of conducting this project was to gain a greater personal understanding of different religions, what makes each religion special, and why each individual pursued this specific religion. As a student interested in the communications field, I wanted to practice my interview skills by crafting questions and reflecting on the topic of religion and happiness with each person I spoke with.

About the Karbank Fellowship

"Karbank Philosophy Summer Fellowships Allow Students to Explore Philosophy’s Connection to the World"

Submitted Project Proposal

Anna Pham_Karbank Proposal.pdf

Project Reflections & Challenges

Language Barriers

    • There were many religious leaders who did not speak English. As a result, I had to specify I wanted to speak with someone who knew English well.

Communication via Technology (phone, email)

    • Some religious communities did not have a voicemail feature setup nor did they have an email to contact. Because of this, I visited the religious site in person.

Appropriate attire

    • It was important to do research ahead of time, not just about the religious community, but also about what is considered appropriate to wear.

Overall Timeline

The overall process of every interview throughout this project:

1. Research the religious community

2. Set up an appointment with a religious member of that community

    • Via phone and then if there was no pickup, via email

3. Come up with questions about this specific religious community

4. Research appropriate attire

5. Conduct interview

    • Take notes, ask interviewee to be recorded; take pictures as appropriate

6. Shortly after the interview, write a summary on the interview as well as a reflection

7. Edit notes, reflections, and videos as necessary

8. Update website and revise