Dr. Patrice Brodeur has been involved with the Pluralism Project since the early 1990s and an affiliate since 1999. From 1999-2004, he directed the Pluralism Project at Connecticut College that mapped the religious diversity of New London, Connecticut. Since 2005 he has held the Canada Research Chair on Islam, Pluralism, and Globalization at the University of Montréal. From 2013-2015, he was also the Director of Research at the KAICIID Dialogue Centre in Vienna, Austria, as well as its Interim Director of Programmes (May-Dec. 2015). As of January 1, 2016, he was appointed one of KAICIID’s two Senior Advisors. While based in Vienna, Dr. Brodeur facilitated trainings on interreligious dialogue for peacebuilding worldwide and directed the creation of the KAICIID Peace Map, an online resource featuring an in-depth directory of over 450 organizations promoting interreligious dialogue.
Dr. Brodeur’s international research on Islam and pluralism included collaboration with scholars trained in a range of academic disciplines, including in particular Islamic and religious studies, peace studies, anthropology, sociology, political science, and history, to look historically and contemporarily at the challenges, successes, and pitfalls related to the management of a diversity of identities.
In 2005, Dr. Brodeur received a USIP grant with Dr. Merdjanova to research, analyze, and evaluate interreligious dialogue activities in the Balkans from 1990 to the present. Precisely because there was little interreligious activity during the communist/socialist period and subsequently there was a rapid infusion of foreign funds in response to wars in the early 1990s, the Balkans was seen as a laboratory for exploring the impact of interreligious dialogue for peacebuilding. The research results were published as a book in 2009 under the title: Religion as a Conversation Starter: Interreligious Dialogue for Peacebuilding in the Balkans, 1990-2008. In addition, Dr. Brodeur’s work has also included conducting workshops on multiple identities and power dynamics from an inter-worldview perspective in over fifty countries on all continents. In 2010, he received the “Interfaith Visionary” Award from the Temple of Understanding.
About the Pluralism Project at Connecticut College
Dr. Brodeur’s first affiliate research project was to found a research effort called the Pluralism Project at Connecticut College (PPCC). The nature of the PPCC was twofold: to implement the Pluralism Project goals of mapping the religious landscape of the New London area and to enhance collaboration between the greater New London inhabitants and the Connecticut College community, in particular through the Center for Community Challenges (CCC).
The first goal of mapping the religious landscape of the New London area was concomitant with The Harvard University Pluralism Project’s goal to “develop and enhance our understanding of contemporary American religious communities, especially those of post-1965 immigrants.” This goal was achieved through studying the background demographic, economic, and political changes that have affected the nature and composition of religious communities in the New London area over the last fifty years. Histories of respective communities and institutions such as the Interfaith Council of New London were recorded with the help of their members. Scientific methods of ethnographic survey were used in which the researchers (Connecticut College students) locate community members (informants) who become partners in writing their own histories.
The second goal was to enhance collaboration between religious inhabitants of the New London area and those of Connecticut College, especially through the Center for Community Challenges (CCC), which focuses on local community issues and offers a certificate in the Program in Community Action (PICA). The CCC is a multi-disciplinary academic center which supports innovative curriculum development, pedagogy and research in the areas of service learning and community building/conflict management. The PICA Program engages students in exploring the meaning of a “good society,” distinguishing the qualities of exemplary leaders, defining the roles and responsibilities of citizens in a democratic society, and determining what promotes and what inhibits effective communication and collaboration in communities. Building on a large and successful student volunteer program that was recognized by the White House as a Point of Light, the Center is the nexus of community and college interaction that seeks to prepare students for community leadership around the world.
The PPCC was an unique project that required a close relationship between the College and New London communities. By getting students to discover the links between the local histories and contemporary descriptions of constantly changing religious communities, especially those of recent immigrants, the student researchers discovered the interrelationship between local and global issues. Such research helped students root their service-learning experiences into the local fabric of New London society with a historical depth that broadened their understanding of how to sustain human communities and personal commitments of service.
The PPCC affected students in four ways. First, students engaged diverse religious communities on a human level through their ethnographies. Second, they explored the intellectual challenges of writing histories and mapping out fluid contemporary realities. Third, they discovered the intellectual, emotional and spiritual factors that motivate and sustain religious individuals and communities in their quest to achieve their respective ideals and visions. Finally, students also gained understanding of their own roles at the various interstices of local and global issues that influence the various religious communities in the New London area. The PPCC sought to be a transformative agent for students as well as an integrational force among local New London community members as well as both the members of the department of religious studies as well as the Connecticut College faculty involved in CCC.
The geographical scope of PPCC covered the city of New London and the surrounding towns of Waterford and Groton, as well as the two Native American reservations of Mashantucket-Pequot and Mohegan. The chronological scope of PPCC covered two and a half years, beginning in January 1999 and ending in September 2001. This period was divided into six phases:
- Jan-May 1999: Case study of the history of the New London mosque and reorganization of the Religion 101 course
- June-Aug 1999: Set up data-base of Rel 101 results with help of student interns
- Sept 1999-May 2000: Implementation of Rel 101 and various 400 level case-studies
- June-Aug 2000: Revision of Rel 101 and early draft of New London multi-media religious map
- Sept 2000-May 2001: Implementation of Rel 101 and various 400 level case-studies
- June-Aug 2001: Production of final version of New London multi-media religious map
- Sept. 2001: Public presentation of map and final evaluation of PPCC
The members of the PPCC affiliate team included:
- Prof. Garrett Green, Chair of the Department: Christian communities
- Prof. Eugene Gallagher: Christian communities, Afro-Caribbean and new religious movements
- Prof. Roger Brooks: Jewish communities
- Associate-Prof. Lindsey Harlan: Mashantucket-Pequot and Mohegan Native American as well as Hindu, Buddhist, and Jain communities
- Assistant Professor Patrice Brodeur: Muslim communities and interreligious/interfaith organizations, as well as coordinator of PPCC.
Selected Links and Publications
- KAICIID Bio: Dr. Patrice Brodeur
- Resource: The Peace Map (KAICIID)
- Article: “Shared Sacred Space” – Dr. Partrice Brodeur and Susan Morrison, (Connecticut College)
- Book: Religion as a Conversation Starter: Interreligious Dialogue for Peacebuilding in the Balkans, 1990-2008 (Continuum Press, 2009)