Questions for Research Projects

Randall Stephens

As the snow fell outside our classroom window today, the students in my Religion and American Culture class and I talked about research papers. A good paper can always use a good question. But what makes for a good question? Should the question be broad enough to lend itself to a sweeping assessment of a period? Or, should it be more narrow? What are the marks of a good question?

Hear are some of the questions we came up with as we brainstormed. (We're up to the early 19th century, which is reflected here):

What are the connections between religious belief and war in American history?

Why did utopian communities flourish as they did in the first half of the 19th century?

How did abolitionists and proslavery advocates use the Bible in the years leading up to the Civil War?

Was the women's rights movement a religious movement?

What were the political and social ramifications of the Second Great Awakening?

How has millennialism influenced American religious groups?

How have religion and politics been intertwined in American history? And how does the American context differ from the European context?

Are Americans more or less religious in 2011 as they were in 1961?