Civic Events

The following events have been sponsored by the Pluralism Project in order to further the work of our civic initiative. To view all of our events, click here. You can also view events by type: affiliate, case study, civic, documentary films, interfaculty, interfaith, international, student conferences, and women’s networks.

Assistant Director Selected to Participate in Summer Civic Studies Institute at Tufts University

Assistant Director Whittney Barth led a case discussion of “Sign of Division” during the Civic Studies Institute at Tufts University. She also served as a panelist during the workshop “Faith Communities and Democratic Work: Beyond the Culture Wars" during the Frontiers of Democracy conference which took place at the conclusion of the Institute. 

Pluralism Project Case Studies at the Intercultural Connections Project

Senior Research Associate Brendan Randall visited Whistler, British Columbia, where he introduced the case method and facilitated the discussionof several case studies as part of the Intercultural Connections Project (ICP). The ICP is an interfaith project developed by Mafalda Arias of Mafalda Arias and Associates and William Roberts of the Whistler Forum with financial support from Embrace BC, a government agency focused on promoting multiculturalism and eliminating racism. The ICP brought together over 20 emerging leaders from numerous local faith communities for a 24-hour retreat in the beautiful mountains of the Sea to Sky region. During the retreat, the ICP participants shared meals, learned about each other, and discussed five case studies from the Pluralism Project Case Study Initiative. At the end of the retreat,the participants discussed potential case studies from British Columbia, identifying several promising prospects.

Former Assistant Director of the Pluralism Project at Presidential Inauguration Prayer Service

Kathryn Lohre, President of the National Council of Churches, led congregational prayer at the Washington National Cathedral during the Presidential Inauguration Prayer Service. Lohre served as the Assistant Director of the Pluralism Project from 2005 to 2011 before taking on her current role as the Director of Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Click here to watch C-SPAN coverage of Kathryn’s remarks. 

Pluralism Project at District Rotary Conference

The Pluralism Project participated in a panel discussing efforts to promote peace and conflict resolution at the Rotary International District #7950 Conference in Newport, Rhode Island.

Pluralism Project Hosts Table at "Massachusetts Remembers September 11" Event

On September 11, 2011 the Pluralism Project, along with over forty other non-profit organizations, commemorated the tenth anniversary of September 11 by participating in the Massachusetts Remembers September 11 event at the DCR Hatch Shell on the Charles River Esplanade. The Pluralism Project hosted a table at the service learning pavilion where representatives from local interfaith, Muslim, Sikh, Catholic, Protestant, and Jewish service organizations educated event-goers on their core values and efforts. The afternoon culminated in a concert and ceremony featuring religious leaders from the Massachusetts Interfaith Leadership Coalition and performances by the Boston Children’s Chorus, the Boston Pops Brass Ensemble, and Rhythm of the Universe. 

Pluralism Project Hosts "Multi-Faith Spaces as Symptoms and Agents of Change"

On September 6, 2011 the Pluralism Project hosted a panel at Harvard University featuring Dr. Ralf Brand and his research team from the University of Manchester’s Architecture Research Centre’s project entitled, “Multi-Faith Spaces: Symptoms and Agents of Religious and Social Change.” The panel took place as part of a series of events and visits to multi-faith spaces in Greater Boston and New York City. Dr. Brand and his colleagues Dr. Chris Hewson and Dr. Andrew Crompton presented their most up-to-date findings on multi-faith spaces in the US, Europe, and elsewhere internationally. Since 2010, Elinor Pierce has served as the Pluralism Project’s advisor to the Multi-Faith Spaces project, which is funded by the British Arts and Humanities Council’s Religion and Society Programme.  To visit the research team’s website, click here

"Fremont, USA" Screening and Panel Hosted by Tri-City Interfaith Council

On June 16, 2011 the Tri-City Interfaith Council of Fremont, Newark, and Union City California sponsored a screening of our documentary, Fremont, USA. The film explores how the city of Fremont, California – the most religiously diverse city of its size in the US – responded in an extraordinary way to the tragic murder of Alia Ansari, a Muslim woman, in 2006. The screening and interfaith panel discussion was hosted at Centerville Presbyterian Church at 360 Central Avenue in Fremont, California – the same church that hosted a citywide interfaith memorial service after Ansari’s death almost five years ago.

“Multi-Faith Spaces” Research Project at the University of Manchester

In Apri 2011 Research Director Elinor Pierce participated in the advisory council meeting of “Multi-Faith Spaces: Symptoms and Agents of Religious and Social Change” at the University of Manchester. As noted on the project website, “This project investigates Multi-Faith Spaces (MFS) not only as symptoms of socio-religious change, but also in terms of their ‘agentic role’ as spaces with the potential to influence and modify relations between religious and secular worlds/worldviews. …Do MFS encourage pluralism or merely house difference? Are MFS positive social investments? How might MFS be better designed and built? What are the likely societal effect[s] of these spaces?” Dr. Ralf Brand and Members of the Project Team will expand this research to the US in August 2011, and will offer a seminar at Harvard on September 6, 2011.

Mosques in America Event at Fordham Law School

In response to mosque controversies across the US, and in New York City in particular, the Institute on Religion, Law, & Lawyer’s Work at Fordham University School of Law sponsored an event titled, “Mosques in America: an Exercise in Dialogue” in November 2011. Rabbi Justus Baird, director of the Center for Multifaith Education from the Auburn Theological Seminary, a longtime collaborator on our Case Study Initiative, co-led a case discussion of, “A Mosque in Palos Heights.” This case, among our first developed, explores the mosque controversy in Palos Heights, Illinois that unfolded in 2000, before the frame of 9/11 informed public discourse. Event participants were encouraged to apply their legal education to a real-life scenario. This event is an example of how we are exploring more deliberately the interdisciplinary potential of our Case Study Initiative. 

Welcome to Shelbyville Film Screening and Panel Discussion

On Thursday, October 21, 2010, the Pluralism Project screened the documentary film “Welcome to Shelbyville” for a diverse audience of Harvard students, staff, and faculty, local civic and religious leaders, representatives from immigrant advocacy groups, and members of the Greater Boston community. Directed and produced by Kim Snyder and executive produced by BeCause Foundation in association with Active Voice, "Welcome to Shelbyville takes an intimate look at a southern town as its residents – whites and African Americans, Latinos and Somalis – grapple with their beliefs, their histories and their evolving ways of life." The film was followed by a panel discussion moderated by Pluralism Project Director Diana Eck on issues of immigration and religious pluralism, and how the lessons of Shelbyville can be applied to our own context in Greater Boston. Panelists included Cooperative Metropolitan Ministries Executive Director Alexander Levering Kern, Agencia ALPHA Director of Programs Damaris López, and Nancy Khalil, a doctoral student in Social Anthropology at Harvard University, and a member of the Muslim American Society Boston and the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center Board of Directors. Event co-sponsors included the Center for the Study of World Religions, the Outreach Center at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies, the Harvard Organization for Latin America (HOLA), United World College, the Harvard Islamic Society, Cooperative Metropolitan Ministries (CMM), Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition (MIRA), Agencia ALPHA, Active Voice, and the BeCause Foundation.

Pluralism Project Participates In a Teach-In on the Muslim Community Center Controversy in Manhattan

On September 21, 2010, Pluralism Project Director Dr. Diana L. Eck participated in a public teach-in entitled, "Making Sense of the Controversy: Campus Teach-In on the Muslim Community Center Issue in Manhattan." Other panelists included Professor Ali Asani, director of the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Islamic Studies Program; and Professor Mark Tushnet, William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Law at Harvard Law School. Panelists offered their reflections on the current controversy’s ramifications for religious pluralism and Muslim life in the United States before responding to questions from the audience. This event, which drew over 100 people, was sponsored by the Center for Middle Eastern Studies, and co-sponsored by the Pluralism Project; the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Islamic Studies Program; the Harvard Foundation; the Middle East Initiative at Harvard Kennedy School; the Harvard College Education Society; the Islam in the West Program; the Middle Eastern Law Students Association; the Outreach Program Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies; the Alliance for Justice in the Middle East; and the Harvard Islamic Society

Pluralism Project Hosts Iraqi Youth Leadership Exchange Program

On July 26, 2010, the Pluralism Project hosted an Iraqi Youth Leadership Exchange program sponsored by the State Department and the Global Youth Leadership Institute (GYLI) for a case study workshop. Pluralism Project staff, summer fellows, and alumni received the group of Iraqi teenagers, American teens from New England, program facilitators, and host families. The purpose of the exchange program was to introduce youth to civic engagement and interfaith dialogue in Greater Boston. Two Pluralism Project summer fellows, Brendan Randall and Kristin Stoneking, taught brief, interactive case studies, providing the delegates with a foundation from which to share their own experiences about religious and cultural pluralism in Iraq and the United States. 

Pluralism Project Hosts Visitors from the Kosmopolis Institute

On June 9, 2010, the Pluralism Project received a visit from Dr. Caroline Suransky and Prof. Henk Manschot of the Kosmopolis Institute of the University of Humanistic Studies, in Utrecht, the Netherlands. In collaboration with the Humanist Institute for Cooperation with Developing Countries (Hivos), the Kosmopolis Institute offers the "Promoting Pluralism Knowledge Program," an international academic-practitioner collaborative in India, Indonesia, Uganda, and the Netherlands. The Kosmopolis Institute became an affiliate of the Pluralism Project in September 2010.

Advancing Interfaith and Community Service on College and University Campuses

On June 7, 2010, the Pluralism Project participated in a half day meeting convened by the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships on “Advancing Interfaith and Community Service on College and University Campuses.” Participants included campus leaders and chaplains, religious studies faculty and administrators, community and interfaith leaders, and students; the Pluralism Project was represented by Assistant Director Kathryn Lohre. OFBNP Deputy Director Mara Vanderslice stated that the primary goal of the meeting was to find ways to partner together to “scale and strengthen interfaith service on college campuses.” Eboo Patel, the Executive Director of the Interfaith Youth Core framed the opportunity for launching a movement for interfaith cooperation, and defined the critical role of college campuses in social change. A group of panelists then explored successful models, and breakout sessions provided an opportunity for participants to enter the conversation.

Case Study Workshop at the Center for the Study of World Religions

On April 13, 2010, the Pluralism Project convened a follow up case study workshop at the Center for the Study of World Religions to consider the application of the case method to the teaching of religion and theology. Approximately 40 Harvard faculty, staff, and students from across the University, Pluralism Project staff and student researchers, local community leaders, and selected faculty from outside institutions discussed a new case entitled “Adding Eid” that explores the issue of adding the Muslim holiday of Eid to the Cambridge Public School system calendar. Dr. Willis Emmons of the C. Roland Christensen Center for Teaching and Learning at Harvard Business School facilitated this case study discussion. After the case study, Dr. Diana Eck moderated a panel discussion on teaching with case studies in religious studies and theological education. Panelists included Justus Baird from Auburn Theological Seminary, Shana Sippy from Carleton College, and Willis Emmons from Harvard Business School. The day concluded with a reception and further conversation about the case method. 

Pluralism Project Presents World Religions in Greater Boston at Lasell College

On April 8, 2010, Pluralism Project Research Coordinator Erin Loeb and Senior Research Associate Kimberly Richards presented the 5th edition of World Religions in Greater Boston to Dr. Dana Janbek’s “Intercultural Communication” course at Lasell College in Newton, MA for an audience of nearly 50 undergraduate students. Their presentation included an overview and history of the Pluralism Project, a discussion of the Case Study Initiative, a selected tour of World Religions in Greater Boston, and concluded with a clip from the documentary film Fremont U.S.A. to highlight a community’s response to a hate crime. Following the discussion, students were asked to reflect on the work Pluralism Project, the relationship between religion and communication, and to offer their own experiences with pluralism in Greater Boston. 

Pluralism Project Participates in Billerica Memorial High School’s E Pluribus Unum Day

On Friday, March 26, 2010, Pluralism Project Director Dr. Diana L. Eck and a panel of youth representatives from various religious traditions participated in Billerica Memorial High School’s E Pluribus Unum Day. After Dr. Eck’s keynote presentation on pluralism in America and the religious diversity of Greater Boston, panelists reflected on common misconceptions about their faith, the relationship between their faith and interreligious understanding in a pluralist society, and concluded by offering wisdom from each of their traditions for an audience of graduating high school seniors. Panelists included Alexis Gewertz (Jewish), former Pluralism Project research associate and current program associate at Combined Jewish Philanthropies; Harvard College Students Jessamin Birdsall (Christian) and Na’eel Cajee (Muslim); Inderpreet Singh, a member of the local Sikh community; Ajahn Mangkone Sananikone, a Buddhist monk from Wat Buddhabhavana in Westford, MA; Prof. Jason Giannetti from Regis College in Weston, MA representing Hinduism; and PJ Andrews (Baha’i), Pluralism Project research associate. This event was organized by the Billerica Public Schools and Billerica CARES. 

Pluralism Project Participates in World Parliament of Religions at Fenway High School

On Friday, March 26, 2010, fifteen representatives of various religious traditions participated in a panel discussion at the World Parliament of Religions day at Fenway High School in Boston. The panelists included Pluralism Project Research Associate Zachary Ugolnik (Eastern Orthodox); Alex Kern (Quaker), director of Cooperative Metropolitan Ministries; Harpreet Singh (Sikh), Harvard PhD student; and Rev. Hyunoh Kim of the Won-Buddhist Temple in Somerville. For the first part of the day, each of the representatives met with students who had studied their respective traditions in their coursework. In a second eighty-minute session, representatives conversed with small group of students that changed every ten minutes in an exercise called “Speed Faithing.” Each representative provided an insider’s introduction to his or her faith and answered students’ questions on the history, beliefs, and practices of that tradition. The event concluded with an assembly where participants spoke briefly on how their tradition responds to issues of social justice. Susanna Hall, a Fenway High School Humanities Team Teacher and a long-time friend of the Pluralism Project, was instrumental in organizing the event. 

Michigan Community Scholars Program

On Thursday and Friday, November 19 and 20, 2009, Research Director Ellie Pierce was invited to Ann Arbor by the Michigan Community Scholars Program (MCSP) for screenings of Fremont, USA and a series of conversations about interfaith relations at the University and in the community. On November 19, Ellie joined students in Prof. Jim Crowfoot’s class on “Environment, Religions, Spirituality, and Sustainability” for a case discussion; this was followed by a Campus-Wide Discussion of Interfaith Relations, which included clips from Fremont, USA, student presentations, and small group discussions. That evening, the Ann Arbor District Library hosted a screening of Fremont, USA and a panel discussion of members of various local religious and interfaith organizations. Each participant related the film to their own vision for improving interfaith relations in Ann Arbor. On November 20, the Ann Arbor District Library hosted a second screening of Fremont, USA for a group of faith leaders in Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti; this screening was followed by a discussion of the current challenges to interfaith relations, and how to establish better networks of communication and response. Finally, the Michigan Community Scholars Program hosted a small group discussion, facilitated by MCSP student Abby White, about forming a new student committee on interfaith relations.

Cooperative Metropolitan Ministries 43rd Annual Meeting and Awards Dinner

On Tuesday, November 17, 2009, the Pluralism Project participated in the annual meeting and awards dinner for a local interfaith social action organization, Cooperative Metropolitan Ministries. Over 200 people attended the evening event entitled, ‘Social Change and the Spirituality of Hope: Dialogue and Action in Multifaith America.” Pluralism Project Director Dr. Diana Eck offered remarks on the topic as part of a keynote panel that also included Salwa Abdullah of Masjid Al-Qur’an and Margie Klein of Moishe/Kavod House and Hebrew College Rabbinical School. Staff hosted a Pluralism Project table in the exhibit area, and engaged with interested visitors in questions about our work and mission.

“Religion in the New Cosmopolis” at the American Academy of Religion in Montréal, Canada

On Friday, November 6, 2009, the Pluralism Project hosted its annual reception and program at the American Academy of Religion. The program focused on “Religion in the New Cosmopolis,” using Boston, Montréal, and other affiliate research sites as a starting point for conversation. Dr. Diana Eck and Research Director Ellie Pierce presented how case studies, documentary film, and our recently relaunched interactive webguide, World Religions in Greater Boston, can be used by teachers, religious and civic leaders, and community activists to build a culture of pluralism. Project Affiliates Dr. Patrice Brodeur and Dr. R. Scott Hanson offered presentations on pluralism in Montréal and Flushing, Queens, New York respectively. Other affiliates, friends, and guests, engaged in lively discussion and networking.

Michigan Educators Teaching Workshop

On Friday, October 23, 2009, the Pluralism Project offered two sessions at the “Michigan Educators Teaching Workshop: Boston Mid-Year Conference” organized by the Outreach Center at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies. This Workshop brought together educator-leaders from Flint, Michigan and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to consider “approaches to and understandings of communities in Michigan related to the Middle East region and how to integrate teaching about them in curriculum and resources.” Assistant Director Kathryn Lohre taught both sessions, which provided an overview of the Pluralism Project and our resources, and an introduction to our Case Study Initiative. In an interactive session on the case study method, participants engaged in a discussion utilizing our case: “Driven by Faith or Customer Service? Muslim Taxi Drivers at the Minneapolis St. Paul International Airport.”

Pluralism Project Welcomes Iraqi Activist from La’Onf

On Monday, October 19, 2009, the Pluralism Project welcomed Mr. Abdulsattar Younus – a leader with La’Onf, a network of nonviolent activists inside of Iraq. After a brief video presentation about the work of La’Onf, Mr. Younus responded to questions about the nature of nonviolent resistance in Iraq, and the relationship of the Iraqi example to other international and historical contexts. Mr. Younus was in the United States to accept the Pfeffer Peace Prize awarded by the Fellowship of Reconciliation – USA. La’Onf had been nominated by Peaceful Tomorrows, “an organization founded by family members of those killed on September 11th who have united to turn [their] grief into action.” Ms. Terry Rockefeller of Peaceful Tomorrows (Arlington, Mass.) and Mr. Tarek El Heneidy of the Fellowship of Reconciliation – USA (Rockport, Mass.) accompanied Mr. Younus at our meeting.

2009 Summer Launch and Research Symposium

On Friday, July 31, the Pluralism Project hosted a preview launch of World Religions in Greater Boston, fifth edition. The symposium featured the work of our webmaster, Ryan Overbey, who built the new user interface, and our summer interns who provided updates for the new directory and multi-media content. The symposium was held at Harvard’s Barker Center for the Humanities, and guests included religious and lay leaders from a diverse range of communities and centers, as well as Harvard faculty, friends of the Project, and funders from The Rappaport Institute for Greater Boston at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. World Religions in Greater Boston features a new online user interface with updated audio-visual content, interactive maps, a near-comprehensive directory of religious centers and organizations, a searchable news database, links to introductory materials, and resources by tradition.

Pluralism Project Hosts Sustaining Pastoral Excellence Boston Immersion Course Participants

On Saturday, July 11, 1009, the Pluralism Project hosted participants in the “Sustaining Pastoral Excellence Boston Immersion Course” sponsored by the Ecumenical Theological Seminary in Detroit, Michigan in collaboration with Cooperative Metropolitan Ministries (CMM) and Episcopal Divinity School (EDS). The Sustaining Pastoral Excellence (SPE) program is funded by Lilly Endowment Inc., and it “enables a broad spectrum of institutions from a wide variety of denominations in many geographical regions to honor and support pastoral leaders.” The visit to the Pluralism Project, as part of an eight-day itinerary throughout Boston, was an opportunity to discuss “Pastoral Excellence in a Religiously Pluralistic City, Nation, and World,” and to highlight Pluralism Project research both in Detroit, as well as in other multi-religious cities in the US.

Fremont, U.S.A. Film Premiere and Panel, Co-Sponsored by The Pluralism Project and the Islam and the West Program at Harvard University

On March 5, 2009, the Pluralism Project cosponsored the premiere of its new documentary film, Fremont, U.S.A.: A City’s Encounter with Religious Diversity at Harvard University. Produced and directed by Rachel Antell and Elinor Pierce, this film explores the complex and challenging issues of religious diversity in small California city transformed by new immigration. Using the themes explored in Fremont, U.S.A. as a starting point, Dr. Diana L. Eck, Pluralism Project director, moderated a lively panel discussion on civic engagement and interfaith action in Greater Boston. Special guest panelists included Rev. Cheng Imm Tan, director, Mayor's Office of New Bostonians; M. Bilal Kaleem, executive director, Muslim American Society - Boston Chapter; and Alexander Levering Kern, executive director, Cooperative Metropolitan Ministries. The film, discussion, and reception were well attended by University students, faculty, Pluralism Project researchers, local religious and civic leaders, and members of the diverse faith communities of Greater Boston.

Case Studies Workshop

On November 5, 2007, the Pluralism Project convened a case studies workshop at the Center for the Study of World Religions. Twenty Harvard faculty and doctoral candidates from Harvard Graduate School, Harvard Divinity School and the Kennedy School of Government participated in a workshop on the case study method. As an example, Dr. Eck utilized the case developed by our senior researcher, Ellie Pierce, entitled “A Mosque in Palos Heights.” This case explores the problems and promise of pluralism in Palos Heights, Illinois where a mosque foundation was offered $200,000 by the city council to walk away from a real estate deal with a local church. Many thanks to the Center for the Study of World Religions for their sponsorship of this important work and their gracious hospitality in hosting this workshop.

“Palos Hates”: A Mosque Controversy in Palos Heights, Illinois

On the afternoon of November 5, 2007, Mayor Dean Koldenhoven, former mayor of Palos Heights, Illinois spoke with a gathering of about thirty Harvard students at the Center for the Study of World Religions. He is the protagonist in the forthcoming case study, “A Mosque in Palos Heights,” described above. Many of the students who attended this event are part of Dr. Eck’s “Religion in Multicultural America: Case Studies in Religious Pluralism” course this semester, where this case study was examined. Mayor Koldenhoven brought to life his role in the mosque controversy: against popular opinion, he supported the mosque foundation’s plans to purchase a local church. In 2002, he received a John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage award for his actions. We are grateful to Mayor Dean Koldenhoven for traveling from Palos Heights, Illinois to speak with us and to the Center for the Study of World Religions for sponsoring and hosting this event.

NEH Summer Seminar for School Teachers: “World Religions in America”

June 26–August 4, 2000, at Harvard University

Consultation on Religious Discrimination and Accommodation

In February 1999, the Pluralism Project was awarded a grant from the Ford Foundation to enable us to host a consultation on religious discrimination and accommodation. This consultation, held May 17 at Harvard University, brought together representatives from advocacy groups of America’s diverse religious traditions. Dr. Diana L. Eck, Project Director and Professor of Comparative Religions, moderated the lively conversation. Topics included religious needs and issues of discrimination in the “public square,” including the workplace, hospitals, and schools.