Dr. David W. Odell-Scott and Dr. Surinder M. Bhardwaj

Dr. David Odell-Scott and Dr. Surinder Bhardwaj became Pluralism Project affiliates in 1999. Together, Drs. Odell-Scott and Bhardwaj engaged their students in a study of immigrant religious communities in northern Ohio. Currently, Dr. David Odell-Scott is an associate dean at Kent State University and directs the College of Arts and Science’s Center for Comparative and Integrated Programs. Dr. Surinder Bhardwaj is professor emeritus in the geography department at Kent State University. Upon Dr. Bhardwaj’s retirement, Dr. Odell-Scott was joined in 2013 by Rev. Lauren M. Odell-Scott in the continuation of this project.

Mapping Post-1965 Immigrant Religious Communities in Northern Ohio

This project aimed to “map” religious communities of post-1965 immigrants in Northern Ohio. In this region, the highest concentration of religious centers pertinent to this study were in the urban areas of Greater Cleveland, Akron, Youngstown and Toledo. In the past 30 years, Northern Ohio has experienced a remarkable change in composition of its already diverse ethnic landscape due to immigration, especially from Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and Latin America. The research team identified and mapped at least one if not many centers associated with the following religious traditions in Northern Ohio: Buddhist (with representative groups of Mahayana, including Soka Gakkai International, and Theravada traditions, drawn from diverse national and ethnic populations), Hindu (both North and South Indian, Radhaswami, Sant Nirankari Mission, Swaminarayan, and Hare Krishna), Jain, Sikh, and Muslim (Sunni, Shia, and the Ahmadiyya). The team also identified and mapped post-1965 ethnic immigrant Christian communities including Korean and Hispanic (Roman Catholic and Protestant). A number of unity movements in the region, including Bahá’í and the Unification Church, were also been identified by the study.

Research assistants for this project included Brian Vollner (2003-2004), Joseph Wilson (2001), and Dennis Tobin (1998). Research teams were comprised of Kent State University Honors College students enrolled in “Comparative Religious Thought I/ Philosophy 2102” (Spring 1999): Timothy Anderson, Kristen Biller, Kathryn Common, Emily Cooper, Michael Derienzo, Jason Dunick, Melinda Mohler, John Morrison, Melissa Pahls, Michelle Rush, Anne Sampsel, Nathan Stine, Justine Stratton, Michael Taylor, Lisa Viertel, Derek Wilkinson, Joe Wilson); and students in the Sophomore Honors Colloquium/Honors 20197 (Spring 2001): Hardesty, Jacobs, Kepple, Mittleman, Ross, Sharma, Willis, and Wilson.

Funding for the Ohio Pluralism Project and the Gulf Coast Project was provided, in part, by the University Research Council of Kent State University and the Pluralism Project at Harvard University. Photographic digital assistance provided by David Maxwell Photography, Kent, Ohio.

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