The Council of Independent Colleges (CIC) and Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC) are pleased to announce a multidisciplinary seminar on Teaching Interfaith Understanding for full-time faculty members at CIC member colleges and universities. The seminar will broaden faculty members’ knowledge and perspective to help them strengthen the teaching of interfaith understanding, develop new courses and other resources, and encourage the development of an expanding network of faculty members who are committed to teaching this subject. The seminar, offered by CIC and IFYC and generously supported by a grant from the Henry Luce Foundation, will cover most costs of participation for those faculty members who are selected.
Religious diversity, along with contestations of religious belonging, pluralism, and inclusion, has become an increasingly fraught topic in American public discourse and public life, even as American campuses have become more religiously diverse. On many campuses, interfaith activities are expanding, drawing increased attention from students, campus staff and administrators, and faculty members. The 2017 seminar will examine how interfaith understanding can be taught effectively in the college classroom so that students are equipped for interfaith engagement and leadership both in the classroom and beyond.
Although some scholars—primarily those within the fields of comparative religion or comparative theology—have addressed such topics for years, many faculty members in the humanities are seeking new ways to connect their expertise with efforts to foster religious pluralism. There also is increasing interest in these topics from faculty members in fields such as education, health care, and business in which the challenges of religious diversity will have an impact on students’ postgraduate professions. Arguably, education on such topics is critical not only to counter religious illiteracy and insensitivity, but also to prepare students for civic responsibility in a religiously diverse world. These objectives raise significant pedagogical and methodological questions for faculty members. How might faculty members within religious studies, as well as those in other fields with practical or theoretical connections to questions of interfaith cooperation, apply these ideas to their own courses? What pitfalls may arise for faculty members who breach the sensitive topics of religious identity and diversity within an academic classroom? How can faculty members effectively connect curricular and cocurricular interfaith work? What should a student know after taking a course about interfaith understanding, and how might that learning be assessed?
Online Resource Library
CIC and IFYC recently completed a new, curated library of interfaith-focused syllabi, course activities, teaching tactics, and other resources created by participants of previous Teaching Interfaith Understanding seminars. Many of these resources were created by faculty members as direct results of their participation in the seminars; others are resources these scholars have used for years in their teaching. All resources are shared with permission from the authors.View the resource library.
This seminar, led by Laurie Patton, president of Middlebury, and Eboo Patel, founder and president of Interfaith Youth Core, will examine the substantial theoretical questions inherent in teaching interfaith understanding and explore the practical work of translating these ideas into courses. Participating faculty members will have opportunities to develop teaching resources such as syllabi and course modules that may be shared online with colleagues at many other institutions. Each day of the seminar will focus on a particular dimension of interfaith understanding—such as models of interfaith collaboration and pedagogies for teaching interfaith cooperation—and will include both theoretical and applied work. The seminar will blend interfaith-based case study discussions, syllabi workshops, and experiential activities such as site visits.
is a leading voice in the movement for interfaith cooperation and the founder and president of Interfaith Youth Core, a national nonprofit working to make interfaith cooperation a social norm. He is the author Acts of Faith
, Sacred Ground
, and the newly released Interfaith Leadership
. Named by U.S. News & World Report
as one of America's Best Leaders of 2009, Patel served on served on President Obama’s Inaugural Faith Council. Patel recently delivered the Greeley Lecture at Harvard University Divinity School, the Coca-Cola World Lecture at Yale University, the inaugural commencement address at Claremont Lincoln University, and a series of lectures at Union Theological Seminary, where he served as a visiting distinguished guest lecturer during the 2012–2013 academic year. He is a regular contributor to the public conversation around religion in America and a frequent speaker on the topic of religious pluralism. Patel holds a doctorate in the sociology of religion from Oxford University, where he studied on a Rhodes Scholarship. For over 15 years, he has worked with governments, social sector organizations, and college and university campuses to help realize a future where religion is bridge of cooperation rather than a barrier of division.
became the 17th president of Middlebury on July 1, 2015, after serving for four years at Duke University as dean of Trinity College of Arts and Sciences and as the Robert F. Durden Professor of Religion. From 1996 to 2011, Patton served on the faculty and administration at Emory University, where she was the Charles Howard Candler Professor of Religions and the inaugural director of Emory’s Center for Faculty Development and Excellence in the Office of the Provost. Patton began her career at Bard College, where she was assistant professor of Asian religions from 1991 to 1996. She is the author or editor of eight books on South Asian history, culture, and religion. In addition, she has translated the classical Sanskrit text, The Bhagavad Gita
, and has published two books of poetry. Patton has lectured widely on interfaith issues and religion and public life, and she has consulted with White House offices on faith-based initiatives and civic engagement. In May 2014, she was named the Alumna of the Year at the University of Chicago Divinity School. She is a graduate of Harvard University and the University of Chicago.