Embedding Interfaith Learning into Curricular and Co-curricular Spaces


naspa diamond

Author
Janett I. Cordovés, Co-Curricular Partnerships Manager, Interfaith Youth Core

Published
October 2, 2018


For many of us, myself included, I approached diversity work with a lens of power and privilege, yes or no, right or wrong, majority and minority, which was extremely effective in my work for many years. Yet, when I began studying ethics, and spirituality, and engulfed myself in religion I began to explore another paradigm-  religious pluralism. I began to wonder, as someone who prides herself on being open, and inclusive, when did I become so binary in my thinking? When did I forget both/ and? And when did seeking to understand become about finding absolutes?

As a higher ed. professional who highlighted the religious landscapes of the institutions I worked in, incorporated worldview into the identity development trainings I led, and spent most of my time reading about values and character it came as no surprise when I asked my colleagues and friends, who also worked in higher education “how do you think about or incorporate worldview into your work?” What was unexpected, were the responses. Responses ranged from "I didn't study religion" to "I don't have a worldview" to "I don't know."  The pre-conference Embedding Interfaith Learning into Curricular and Co-curricular Spaces is focused on research, pedagogy, and application so that the responses above aren’t your responses and we can work through the uncertainty together.

This preconference will create a space where we will consider values and worldviews, analyze the importance of interfaith cooperation, deepen our understanding of the United States religious landscape, and hear from those in the field pioneering interfaith work at their institutions. As educators, we cannot wait for the next protest, incident, program, crime, class discussion to prepare ourselves to support our staff and students’ worldviews. We need to be proactive and incorporate these efforts into our strategic plans, initiatives, and values from the start. Like any area of competency, if we do not begin with ourselves we cannot expect our students to do the work. During the 3.5 hours we will spend together we will discuss our worldviews, its influence on the work and lives we lead, and gain appreciation for others worldviews-this is the foundational work to creating mutually inspiring relationships that can lead us to interfaith cooperation. From there we will transition to Interfaith Diversity Experiences & Attitudes Longitudinal Survey (IDEALS) highlighting US college students’ worldviews, appreciative attitudes and pluralistic orientation. The IDEALS research will help frame our conversation as we dive into application with a panel of interfaith leaders.  Lastly, we will consider how to embed these priorities and promising practices into existing or new campus initiatives.

As you know, worldview diversity has been knocking on your college campuses door for some time. Let's spend a few hours together the morning of December 9th developing our interfaith leadership skills together. This way when we answer the door (literally and figuratively), we can welcome religious diversity onto our campuses and be prepared to effectively and knowledgeably respond, regardless of the space and role we inhabit.  Will you join me in the movement, “to see the other side, to defend another people, not despite your tradition but because of it...” (Patel, p. 179, 2007)? I hope you will!


References

  • Berger, P. The Many Altars of Modernity: Toward a Paradigm for Religion in a Pluralist Age. Boston: De Gruyter Mounton, 2014.
  • Eck, D. A New Religious America: How a “Christian Country” Has Become the World’s Most Religiously Diverse Nation. New York: Harper Collins, 2002.
  • Patel, E. (2007). Acts of faith: The story of an American Muslim, the struggle for the soul of a generation. Beacon Press.
  • Patel, E. (2016). Interfaith leadership: A primer. Beacon Press.

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