Dr. Russell Rhoads

Dr. Russell Rhoads is an associate professor of anthropology at Grand Valley State University. He became a Pluralism Project affiliate in 1998. Together with Mr. Joel Beversluis, Ms. Ghazala Munir, and students from Grand Valley State University, Dr. Rhoads documented the contributions of minority religions to community service in West Michigan. Their research project was entitled “Reaching Out: Minority Religions And Community Service in West Michigan.”  The research team described the project’s objectives in the following way:

(1) to document the prevalence of minority religious communities in the West Michigan Region, using surveys and interviews; (2) to describe the ways that minority religions provide out-reach and community services both to adherents within the religious community and to non-member constituents of the community in general; (3) to analyze the issue of “voice” and “visibility” that confronts minority religions in their quest to reach out and provide assistance to members of the community; and (4) to involve members of local interfaith groups (e.g. IDA), minority religions, and GVSU students in a service learning capacity.

During 1998-2000, Professor Rhoads and 20 students combed southwest Michigan, primarily Grand Rapids, Holland and Kalamazoo collecting information for faith center profiles. Students from both research methods and comparative religions courses participated and several conducted independent research and presented in professional fora. The researchers decided to focus their efforts on one site for an in-depth look (case study) of interfaith in action. They chose the Sri Sri Sarada Mata AshramIn the religious traditions of India, an ashram is a retreat center, where the cultivation of religious life takes place under the guidance of a teacher or guru. (“Woman’s Trust/Woman’s Place”) in Fennville, Michigan.

Selected Links and Publications