All the While Sipping Small Cups of Good Coffee

Picture 1Back in December 2014 I received an unexpected email from Switzerland:

We would like to invite you to a master class with PhD candidates and Post-Docs in 2015. These master classes are a main element of our program: For two or three days, we would like to discuss your work, approaches to the study of religion and give the participants the chance to discuss their projects with you.

I agreed and am just back from three intensive days working with about 10 Swiss doctoral students in Religionswissenschaft — doing their studies at universities in Zurich, Basel, and Bern; I spent a couple nights in Zurich, working with students for two days (during which I also presented a public lecture written for the occasion — that’s it, above, outside my hotel in Zurich), had the good fortune to be interviewed while there for a future issue of Asdiwal (a Swiss annual journal in our field), and then took the train an hour east to Basel, where we all had a full day there as well. While some of the sessions were led by the students themselves, in which they presented a summary of their dissertation topics and after which we all had a chance to comment and ask questions about their work, other sessions were a series of one-on-one appointments some of the students decided to make with me, in which I camped out in a seminar room and, one after another, they’d come by and we would talk about their work for up to an hour each.

All the while sipping small cups of good coffee. Continue reading