The 2003 Covering Religion Class

Professor Ari Goldman, former religion reporter for The New York Times, has taught the "Covering Religion" course at Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism every spring for the past 10 years, preparing his students to write about religion for a diverse readership. The course looks at different religions today through a case study of how religion is evolving in the former Soviet Union, with each student researching a specific faith or denomination and reporting to the class on what he or she has learned.

For the past four years, the Scripps Howard Foundation has subsidized a 10-day class trip during spring break, in which students put their expertise to work by studying the workings of faith in a region where it is a developing story. Previous classes have visited Israel, the Ukraine and Russia; this class will travel to Moscow and Kazan, the capital of the autonomous Republic of Tatarstan, a member state of the Russian Federation.

Alexandra Alter
was born in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia and grew up in Dhahran. In 2001, she
recieved a Bachelors of Arts in Religion from Columbia University, where she
studied Asian religions and Sanskrit. She is currently in Columbia University's
dual Masters program in Journalism and Religion. She has worked as a fiction reader and editorial assistant at Esquire and as a freelance journalist for
a weekly English-language paper in Nepal.

Muhammad Athar Lila
, Webmaster
fWebmaster, Jedi Master, and servant of Allah, Muhammad has spent the last year trying to avoid being photographed. Prior to that, he served on the Community Editorial Board of the Toronto Star before being named Host and Associate Producer of Living Islam, a weekly, syndicated current/religious affairs television series aired in Toronto, his off-season home and also Canada's largest media market. In his spare time, he enjoys training in the martial arts, reading, and the occasional game of road hockey. He is also pursuing a dual Religion-Journalism degree at Columbia University, an institution that he hopes to one day own.

Lila III Arzua
has covered religion for both The Miami
Herald and The Virginia Episcopalian. Sadly, she
missed the days when the latter publication was known by its traditional
name, The Virginia Churchman. She is now a student at the Columbia School of Journalism and in May will graduate to The Washington Post
editorial page. While they might seem mutually
exclusive, she is both a Christian and a native South Floridian.

Kodi Barth
Before coming to Columbia in the summer of 2002, Kodi edited a religious
magazine and taught computer software for three years in Nairobi. He holds
undergraduate degrees in Philosophy, Sacred Theology and Religious Studies from the Pontifical Urbanian University, Rome, and the Catholic University
of Eastern Africa. He has a birth certificate from a hospital on the shores
of Lake Victoria, the source of the Nile, in south-western Kenya


Celestine Bohlen, Adjunct Professor
has been a cultural reporter for The New York Times since September 2000, after spending 12 years abroad as a foreign correspondent for the Times. Previously, she was a Moscow correspondent and a Rome and Budapest bureau chief. She joined The Times as a reporter on the metropolitan desk in August 1988. For the past year, Ms. Bohlen has hosted a bimonthly cultural affairs program from New York, called ''A Stroll Down Broadway," which has been broadcast on the Russian television station, Kultura, in Russia. Born in Paris to a foreign service officer, Ms. Bohlen was raised in Moscow, Manila, Washington and Paris. She graduated magna cum laude from Harvard College in 1973.


Manya Brachear, Teaching Assistant
is a freelance religion reporter based
in New York and the first candidate for dual masters'
degrees in religion and journalism at Columbia University.
She has worked for The News & Observer in

Raleigh, N.C. and interned this past summer on the
state desk at The Dallas Morning News. This is her
second foray to cover faith in the former Soviet Union.

Dan Burke
is in the first year of Columbia University’s two-year,
journalism and religion dual-degree program. He graduated from
Georgetown University in 1998, receiving a BA in Literature and
Psychology. The Jesuits there made him take many courses in
theology and ethics, which explains a lot about why he is studying
religion, and also why he is an atheist. He recently spent several
months attending Charismatic Catholic prayer meetings in New York
City for his master’s project. He did not learn to speak in tongues.


Dan Evans, Photographer,
is one of seven Dans in the Columbia Journalism School's class of 2003,
but the only one from San Diego, Calif. Before coming to New York, he
worked at the San Francisco Examiner, covering legal issues and writing a thrice-weekly Q&A column. He is one of five former employees of the
newspaper who is not planning on writing a book about the experience.
Before the Examiner, Dan worked for the Los Angeles Daily Journal, a legal-trade publication, and rather liked LA, thank you. He graduated from UC Berkeley in 1998 with majors in English and Philosophy.


Mariam Fam
was born and raised in Cairo, Egypt. In 2000, she received a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the American University in Cairo, where she worked as a reporter, managing editor, and editor in chief for the campus newspaper. For two years, Mariam has worked as a journalist for the Associated Press in Cairo and reported from Egypt and Iraq. After getting her master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University next May, Mariam will do a summer internship at The New York Times. She then hopes to report from the Middle East, where religion is a part of the region’s politics, cultures, and lifestyles.


Ari Goldman, Acting Associate Dean
This is Professor Ari Goldman's tenth year as a journalism
professor and fourth year as a leader of the Scripps Howard study tour.
In 2000 and 2001 he took the religion class to Israel and Jordan.
This is the second year he is leading the Russia expedition.
Professor Goldman was educated at Yeshiva University,
Columbia and Harvard. He the author of three books on religion,
the newest of which will be published in the fall of 2003.
Before becoming a professor, he was a reporter at The New York Times.

Meital Hershkovitz, Photographer
is a documentary and art photographer. Earning dual
Masters Degrees from Columbia University's School of
International and Public Affairs and the Graduate School
of Journalism, her work considers issues of human rights,
spirituality and cultural expression. Her recent
collection FAITH includes images of the entire world.


Tim Lavin
Tim Lavin grew up in Massapequa Park, New York. He
graduated from Boston College in 2002 with an English
degree and has worked for several magazines, including
Fortnight, in Belfast, and the Atlantic Monthly, in
Boston. Neither paid living wages, a recurring problem
in Tim's journalism career. Upon graduating from
Columbia Journalism School in May, Tim hopes to be
employed by anyone. Anyone.

Sara Leitch, Managing Editor
graduated from Yale in 2000 with a degree in biology. She was a reporter and editor at the Yale Daily News, but wasn't sure that she wanted to make
journalism her career, so she went to work in the financial services industry after graduation. It took just over a year on a bond trading desk for her to
realize that reporting was what she really wanted to do, and now she is a student at Columbia Journalism School. She has interened at a wire service and a magazine, and this summer she'll be reporting for the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Sara's first visit to Russia was in 1989, with her mother, Cathey.

Stephanie Levitz
grew up in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. She graduated from McGill University, in Montreal, Quebec, in 2001 with a degree in history, economics,
English and political science. An avid traveler - she only needs to cross Africa and Australia off her list of continents visited - Stephanie celebrated
graduation with a summer long jaunt through Europe before moving to Washington, D.C. In D.C., she interned with The Washington Center for Politics and Journalism where she worked in the D.C. bureau of The
and Mail, one of Canada's national newspapers. Going from one world capital to the next, Stephanie then spent six months working for a member of the Canadian Parliament in her hometown of Ottawa. She is currently pursuing a master of science degree at Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism and also freelances for The Canadian Press and The
Ottawa Citizen.

Alyssa Litoff
worked as an assistant producer and researcher for ABC Sports and ISB TV before entering Columbia’s Graduate School of Journalism. She
graduated from Brown University in Providence, R.I. in 1998, where she majored in Classics and Comparative Literature. She was also the Executive Editor of the Brown Daily Herald. Alyssa’s mother was born a
Methodist and later became a Quaker. Her father was
born Jewish and later became a Shaman.

                                                                                   Mariana Patino
Mariana Lemann holds an undergraduate degree in Journalism and Marketing in Brazil. Currently, she is pursuing her Master in Journalism at Columbia University. She has worked for business and career magazines in Brazil. Moved to New York in 1999, where she has freelanced for Brazilian magazines and newspapers. She interned for Globo
(the largest brazilian TV Network) in New York and London.
While in London, she also freelanced stories for Brazilian publications
in England and Italy.

Gabriel Rodríguez-Nava, Site designer and Webmaster
was born in Amexica, or the US-Mexico border. He graduated with honors from Tecnológico de Monterrey in Mexico and European University in Belgium. After obtaining his bachelor's degree in International Relations, he worked as a Mexico City correspondant for El Diario de Monterrey and in that same city, he became the managing editor for Eres magazine at Editorial Televisa.He was also a contributing writer for Milenio Semanal, a culture and politcs magazine. Before coming to Columbia to concentrate in new media journalism, Gabriel co-founded and directed In&Out magazine in laid-back, super sunny Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.

Michael Serazio,
a California native, will graduate in
May 2003 with a master's degree from Columbia
University's Graduate School of Journalism. He hopes
to pursue creative reporting and rich writing for a
newspaper or magazine - chasing after reality and
ning it for poetry. Anything. Anywhere.

Angela Uherbelau
grew up in Ashland, Oregon. She graduated from Smith College with a bachelor’s degree in Government. She worked as a researcher for
Clinton-Gore ’92, managed her mother’s successful campaign for the Oregon Legislature and served as Rhode Island State Director for Gore-Lieberman 2000. As a public affairs consultant in New York City, she advised groups like National Audubon Society and Coalition for a Smoke Free City. A professional stage and television actress, she is also a freelance writer whose work has appeared in Newsweek and Marie Claire.

Jamal Watson
previously served as the urban affairs and race relations reporter at
The Boston Globe. Before joining The Globe, he worked as a reporter
at The Baltimore Sun. His writings have also appeared in USA Today,
The Washingtonton City Paper, The Washington Post and The Philadelphia Daily News. He has also freelanced for more than a dozen ethnic
newspapers and magazines. He has also taught journalism and writing at Emerson College and Queens College and in 2001,
he won a media fellowship to study at Vanderbilt University.








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