Selected Case Studies

The Pluralism Project’s collection of case studies continues to grow. Here are brief synopsis and links to a select number of case studies that are a part of our collection. If you would like to discuss these cases, or see others in our collection, please contact us.


A Sign of Division

A four-page A case and two-page B case, detailing the dilemma before a rabbiRabbi means “my master,” an authorized teacher or master of the Torah and the classical Jewish tradition. After the fall of the second Temple in 70 CE and the scattering of the Jewish people in exile, the role of the rabbi became very important in gat... who is asked to remove a sign supporting IsraelLiterally “Wrestler with God”, Israel is the name given to the Jewish patriarch Jacob and came to refer to the entire nation, bound in an eternal covenant to God. Historically, Jews have continued to regard themselves as the continuation of the ancien... from the synagogueSynagogue, shul in Yiddish, is the most widely used term for a Jewish house of worship. Meaning a “place of gathering,” it is the central institution of Jewish communal life. The structure and role of synagogues has changed through the centuries, but ... when hosting an interfaith worship service.


Invitation to a Tri-Faith Neighborhood

A four-page A case and a three-page B case recounting an invitation to join the Tri-Faith Initiative’s groundbreaking interfaith neighborhood in Omaha, Nebraska. (This case was developed as part of the Pluralism Project’s 2012 pilot study of interfaith initiatives.)


Cultivating Change

A four-page A case and three-page B case chronicling how a newly-hired CEO takes on the challenges of a struggling interfaith organization that is “bleeding money,” needs to rebrand, and seeks to understand its purpose. (This case was developed as part of the Pluralism Project’s 2012 pilot study of interfaith initiatives.)


A Question of Membership

This case looks at how multiple religious belonging poses a challenge for religious organizations in America.


Rumors in Damascus

A five-page A case and a one-page B case that tells the story of Emir Abd el-Kader, a 19th century Algerian statesman, scholar, and warrior, who is faced with a decision of whether or not to protect Christians under attack in Damascus. His actions continue to inspire many around the globe. (This case study and study guide was developed in partnership with Pluralism Project Affiliate John Kiser, author of Commander of the Faithful: The Life and Times of Emir Abd el-Kader, Tamar Miller, and the Abd el-Kader Education Project, Inc.)


A Call to PrayerPrayer is the vocal or silent address to the Divine. It may consist of fixed words, spontaneous words, or rest in silence with no words at all. Some forms of prayer are accompanied with specific postures or gestures, while others are not.

A six page A case and four page B case about a request to broadcast the call to prayer in the tiny city of Hamtramck, Michigan. When the request becomes a matter of public debate, how will city council president Karen Majewski—and the diverse citizens of Hamtramck—respond?


Sister MaryMary was the mother of Jesus and, as such, has a special place in the affection and devotion of Christians. The Gospels of Luke and Matthew speak of her as a Virgin who conceived Jesus by the grace of the Holy Spirit. Devotion to the Virgin Mary, also cal... and the Muslim Doctors

An eight page A case and eight page B case about a Catholic nunA nun is a woman who renounces worldly life and is ordinarily a member of a monastic order or community, thereby undertaking a special commitment to study, service, asceticism, prayer, or disciplined spiritual practice. In the Buddhist tradition, fully or... who, in her role as a senior administrator at a hospital in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, is confronted with how to respond, personally and institutionally, when Muslim doctors ask the hospital to help them procure space in which to develop a Muslim community center. (This case study was developed by the Rev. Dr. Marcia Moret Sietstra, an affiliate of the Pluralism Project based in Sioux Falls.)


Contact Us for More Information

We invite you to consider using cases in your own educational context. We invite your feedback and are happy to discuss these and other case study resources available from the Pluralism Project. For more information about the Case Study Initiative, please contact Ellie Pierce, Pluralism Project Research Director, at: epierce@fas.harvard.edu.


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