Teaching Interfaith Understanding

June 21–25, 2015 · Boston College · Chestnut Hill, MA
August 2–6, 2015 · DePaul University · Chicago, IL
 
The Council of Independent Colleges (CIC) and Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC) are pleased to announce two multidisciplinary seminars on Teaching Interfaith Understanding for full-time faculty members. The seminars 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 a growing network of faculty members who are committed to teaching this subject. The seminars, 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, is 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 seminars are concerned with 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.
 
While some scholars—primarily those within the fields of comparative religion or comparative theology—have engaged 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 is also growing interest in these topics among faculty members in fields such as education, health care, and business in which the challenges of religious diversity will have an impact in students’ postgraduate professions. Arguably, education on such topics is critical not only to counter religious illiteracy and insensitivity, but also to prepare students for leadership and 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?

Read an article on the seminars in the Independent.
 

About the Seminars

These seminars, led by leading scholars and IFYC staff, 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. The seminars will be especially helpful both to faculty members who are interested in teaching an entire course on interfaith understanding, as well as those interested in strengthening interfaith themes in existing courses. While the seminars in Cambridge and Chicago share common goals, each will be shaped by the expertise and research interests of the seminar leaders.
 
Each day of the seminars 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 seminars will blend textbased discussions of key concepts, experiential activities such as site visits, practicing models of interfaith dialogue, and tools to teach interfaith cooperation.
 

CHESTNUT HILL Seminar
 
June 21–25, 2015 · Boston College · Chestnut Hill, MA
 
Catherine Cornille is the Newton College Alumnae Chair of Western Culture at Boston College, where she is also Chair of the Department of Theology and Professor of Comparative Theology. Her teaching and research focus on comparative theology and interreligious dialogue. She has authored or edited 14 books on interreligious dialogue, most recently The Im-Possibility of Interreligious Dialogue (2008), Interreligious Hermeneutics (2010), Interreligious Dialogue and Cultural Change (2012), The Wiley-Blackwell Companion to Inter-Religious Dialogue (2013), and Women and Interreligious Dialogue (2013). She is founding editor-in-chief of the book series “Christian Commentaries on non-Christian Sacred Texts.”

Noah Silverman is the director of faculty partnerships at Interfaith Youth Core. He has been involved in interfaith work for 15 years on three continents. Prior to joining IFYC in 2013, Silverman served as the associate director of the Center for Multifaith Education at Auburn Theological Seminary in New York City, where he directed the international, interfaith teen-leadership program, Face to Face / Faith to Faith. He has worked for Religions for Peace at the United Nations, the Parliament of the World's Religions in Barcelona, the Interfaith Encounter Association and the Seeds of Peace Center in Jerusalem, and the Tony Blair Faith Foundation in London. Silverman has written numerous articles on the methodology of interfaith cooperation and leadership. He holds an MA in religious studies from New York University.  

Stephen Prothero is a professor in the Department of Religion at Boston University and the author of numerous books, most recently The American Bible: How Our Words Unite, Divide, and Define a Nation (2012), God is Not One: The Eight Rival Religions That Run the World--and Why Their Differences Matter (2010), and the New York Times bestseller Religious Literacy: What Americans Need to Know (2007). He has commented on religion on dozens of National Public Radio programs and on television on CNN, NBC, MSNBC, FOX, and PBS. Prothero received his BA in American Studies from Yale University and his PhD in the study of religion from Harvard University.
 

Chicago Seminar
 
August 2–6, 2015 · DePaul University · Chicago, IL
 
Eboo Patel is the Founder and President of Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC), a Chicago-based organization building the interfaith movement on college campuses. Author of the books Acts of Faith (2007), which won the Louisville Grawemeyer Award in Religion, and Sacred Ground (2012), Patel is a regular contributor to the Washington Post, USA Today, Huffington Post, NPR, and CNN. He served on President Obama’s inaugural Advisory Council of the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships and holds a doctorate in the sociology of religion from Oxford University, where he studied on a Rhodes scholarship. He has taught courses on interfaith cooperation at many institutions including the University of Chicago, Princeton Theological Seminary, Northwestern University, and Dominican University (IL) where he was the Lund-Gill Chair. Patel recently delivered the Greeley Lecture at Harvard University Divinity School and a series of lectures at Union Theological Seminary, where he served as a visiting distinguished guest lecturer during the 2012–2013 academic year.
 
Laurie Patton is the Dean of Trinity College of Arts & Sciences and the Robert F. Durden Professor of Religion at Duke University. She came to Duke in 2011 from Emory University, where she was the Charles Howard Candler Professor of Religions and inaugural director of Emory’s Center for Faculty Development and Excellence in the office of the provost. While at Emory, Patton served as chair of the religion department from 2000–2007, founded and co-convened the Religions and the Human Spirit Strategic Plan, and received the Emory Williams Award in 2005. At Duke she developed Duke’s first university-wide course, sponsored the creation of the first global advising program in the country, and launched an initiative in public scholarship. She is a graduate of Harvard University and the University of Chicago and the author or editor of eight books on South Asian history, culture, and religion. She has lectured widely on interfaith issues and religion and public life and consulted with White House offices on faith-based initiatives as well as on civic engagement.
 

 Participants, Locations, and Expenses

 
Twenty-five participants will be selected for each seminar by competitive nomination. Full-time faculty members at U.S. colleges and universities are eligible to be considered with preference given to those at CIC member institutions. The Chestnut Hill (MA) seminar will take place at Boston College, June 21–25, 2015 and the Chicago (IL) seminar will take place at DePaul University, August 2–6, 2015. Lodging, most meals, and reading materials will be provided, thanks to generous support from the Henry Luce Foundation. Participants or their institutions are expected to cover transportation to and from the seminar locations.
 

 Nomination Process

 
Faculty members who wish to participate should ask the chief academic officer of their institution to send a letter of nomination that emphasizes the nominee’s qualifications and the opportunities that the nominee will have upon returning to campus to incorporate what has been learned into his or her teaching. Preference will be given to nominees whose plans to develop and offer new courses are definite and have institutional approval and support. Each institution may nominate more than one individual, and full-time faculty members in all academic ranks are eligible to participate. The nomination form is available online. Each nomination should consist of the following:
  1. Nomination letter from the chief academic officer endorsing the nominee and explaining the current status of interfaith initiatives on campus, what the institution intends to do in this area in the near future, and how the nominee will be utilized following participation in the seminar;
  2. Completed nomination form;
  3. Nominee’s curriculum vitae; and
  4. Nominee’s statement of reasons for wishing to participate in the seminar and explanation of involvement in current interfaith activities, the kinds of courses and activities that are likely to be developed following participation in the seminar, and the formal status of these plans.
 

 Nomination Deadline

 
Please submit the completed nomination online by Friday, February 6, 2015.

Selection of participants will be announced by: Monday, March 9, 2015.

If you have any questions or comments please contact Stephen Gibson, CIC’s director of programs, at sgibson@cic.nche.edu or (202) 466-7230.
CIC is grateful to the Henry Luce Foundation for support of the Teaching Interfaith Understanding Seminars.