Third English Writing Workshop for the Social Scientific Study of Religion in China

Singapore Management University, Singapore
June 22-July 5, 2018

Hao Xiong

From June 22 to 2 July of 2018, the Center on Religion and Chinese Society (CRCS) of Purdue University held the third English writing workshop for the Social Scientific Study of Religion in China at Singapore Management University (SMU). This workshop is hosted by Singapore Management University and sponsored by the John Templeton Foundation. It is also the first time the English writing workshop is held in Asia. Eleven scholars from mainland China, Hong Kong, USA, and Europe were selected to participate in the workshop. Focusing on the scientific study of religion in China, these scholars were of various disciplinary background including sociology, anthropology, law, and history. The CRCS writing workshop provided a great opportunity for Chinese scholars to communicate with Western scholars directly. The issues regarding academic writing, format, publication strategies, and research methodologies were covered by different lectures. To promote the English writing and presenting skills of the Chinse scholars, the participants of the writing workshop were required to communicate and present their research in English.

Professor Fenggang Yang, the Director of CRCS held a warm welcome ceremony on 22 June. In his welcoming speech, Dr. Yang briefly introduced the CRCS and the English writing workshop. He further explained the goals of the workshop, which was to improve the English ability of Chinese scholars and train them to write and publish in international journals in English.

On June 22-23, Professor Carsten Vala from Loyola University, Maryland, delivered the first two lectures of the workshop. Using published articles as examples, Professor Vala talked about how to write about abstract ideas in a clear way and how to contest concepts. Attention is also paid to polishing the title and thesis of articles.

Dr. Fenggang Yang gave three lectures on how to challenge the established theoretical framework in the sociology of religion and develop new theories on July 25-27. In his lectures, Dr. Yang used his research and publication experiences to illustrate how to carry out theoretical research and overcome various obstacles in the process of journal submission. Many other survival skills in the English academic circle were also introduced.

On July 28-29, Professor Yousef Yang from the Murray State University gave lectures on how to combine statistics in academic writing and how to frame the research with statistics. Dr. Yang provided another angle, the quantitative approach, to understand social-and-religious issues. Dr. Yang also shared his own publication experiences and recent research questions with the Chinese scholars.

On June 30 and July 2, two professors gave their talks about social scientific study of religion respectively. Professor Susan MaCarthy from Providence Collage shared her thoughts on making your scholarship appealing to others. Different meanings of theories, and implementation of theoretical analysis when writing an English paper were well explained. In addition, Dr. MaCarthy also talked about “Revise-Engineering the Article”. She used different published paper to let the Chinese scholars to exercise how the theory and ideas could be well organized in an article. Professor LI Xiangping from East China Normal University talked about the development of Sociology of Religion in China, and explained the meaning of “the sacred” from both the Chinese and Western perspectives.

As planned, the workshop concluded with the presentations of the participants at the annual meeting of the Conference on Religiosity, Secularity and Pluralism in the Global East, The Inaugural Conference of the East Asian Society for the Scientific Study of Religion (EASSSR) held in from July 3-5. As a result of the 11 days of intensive training in English, the participants presented their papers in English confidently and professionally, and were able to smoothly communicate with the audience.