The following events have been sponsored by the Pluralism Project in order to engage scholars in the Harvard community. 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.
Pluralism Project and Center for the Study of World Religions Co-Host "My Neighbor's Faith: A Critical Conversation"
On Tuesday, February 5th the Pluralism Project and the Center for the Study of World Religions at Harvard Divinity School co-hosted a panel discussion of the book My Neighbor’s Faith: Stories of Interreligious Encounter, Growth, and Transformation (Orbis 2012). Panelists included two of the book’s editors and co-directors of the Center for Inter-Religious and Communal Leadership Education, Dr. Jennifer Peace and Rabbi Or Rose. Dr. Ali Asani, Professor of Indo-Muslim and Islamic Religion and Cultures at Harvard University, and the Rev. Janet Cooper Nelson, Chaplain of the University at Brown, were also panelists and spoke about the personal stories they contributed to the collection. Dr. Francis X. Clooney, Director of the Center for the Study of World Religions, served as a respondent and Dr. Diana Eck, Director of the Pluralism Project, gave introductory remarks.
Over seventy-five people attended the panel and rich discussion continued into the reception that followed. We would like to extend a special thanks to the Center for the Study of World Religions Field Education Intern Morgan Howard and Pluralism Project Research Associate April Winebrenner-Palo who organized the event.
Diana Eck Panelist for "The Dignity of Difference: Developing Theologies of Religious Pluralism and the Challenges of Leadership"
A panel discussion on Tuesday, December 4th at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government featured discussion on "The Dignity of Difference: Developing Theologies of Religious Pluralism and the Challenges of Leadership. Panelists included Ali Asani, professor of Indo-Muslim and Islamic Religion and Culture at Harvard University; Diana Eck, professor of Comparative Religion and Indian Studies and Director of the Pluralism Project at Harvard University; and Lord Jonathan Sacks, Chief Rabbi of the United Kingdom for conversation with Ronald Heifetz, Co-Founder of the Center for Public Leadership at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.
On October 2, 2011 the Pluralism Project co-sponsored “Muslim Women’s Religious Literacy: The Legacy of Nana Asma’u in the Twenty-First Century and Beyond," a panel discussion at Harvard Divinity School in honor of his Eminence the Sultan of Sokoto’s visit to campus. The Sultan is the religious leader of one of the largest Muslim communities in Africa. Nana Asma’u, a great aunt of the Sultan, was one of the most important Muslim women scholars and educators in nineteenth-century Africa, as well as a poet. Panelists included: Beverly Mack, Director of the University of Kansas African Studies Center; Ousseina Alidou, Director of the African Studies Center, Rutgers University; Zainab Alwani, Howard University and Fiqh Council of North America; Mohamed Elsanousi, Director of Outreach, Islamic Society of North America; and His Eminence Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar III, the Sultan of Sokoto. The event was hosted by Harvard Divinity School’s Women’s Studies in Religion Program.
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.
“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.
"In Pursuit of Justice" Discussed by AJWS Alumni
Over the past several months, we have worked with American Jewish World Service (AJWS) to collaboratively develop a case study for rabbinical students and rabbis. This case, “In Pursuit of Justice,” explores the resistance faced by a young rabbi who wants to refine her synagogue’s mitzvah program to be more in line with the social justice ethos of the congregation. This case was used in a session at the recent AJWS Rabbinical Students’ Delegation (RSD) Alumni Institute, held in Baltimore, Maryland, February 20-23, on the theme, Leveraging Our Power. RSD alumni have previously traveled with AJWS in delegations to the developing world, where they live and work with grassroots partners for a period of two weeks, grappling with “Jewish texts and theology in order to make sense of the struggles for social justice and human rights. Upon return, they work together, as part of the [RSD Alumni Network], to bring a sophisticated understanding of global citizenship to their communities.” If you’d like to use this case in your own teaching, please contact email@example.com.
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.
On Friday, October 29, 2010, the Pluralism Project hosted its annual reception at the American Academy of Religion. Facilitated by Dr. Diana Eck and Research Director Ellie Pierce, the evening’s program explored new developments in the Case Study Initiative, which seeks to apply the case method to the disputes and dilemmas of multi-religious America. Highlights from our recent case study workshops, courses, and updates from our 2010 Case Study Summer Fellowship program served as a starting point for discussion. 130 Pluralism Project affiliates, friends, and guests, engaged in lively conversation and networking.
30 Mosques, 30 States, 30 Days: Ramadan Road Trip Adventure
On October 19, we cosponsored an event featuring Aman Ali and Bassam Tariq, following their “Ramadan Road Trip Adventure” through 30 states in 30 days. Their itinerary included visits to Muslim communities in places as diverse Augusta, Maine and Phoenix, Arizona, ending on Eid al-Fitr in Detroit, Michigan. A detailed blog of their adventures can be found at http://30mosques.com/ Ali and Tariq became known for their initial experiment of visiting 30 mosques in 30 days in New York City in 2009. The event was cosponsored by the Pluralism Project; the Islam in the West Program; the Harvard Islamic Society; and the Islamic Forum at the Harvard Divinity School.
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.
On September 17, 2010, the Pluralism Project co-sponsored a panel discussion on “Faith-Based Family Dispute Mediation and Arbitration: North American Muslim Contributions & Priorities” along with the Center for Middle Eastern Studies and the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Islamic Studies Program. The event, organized by HDS students Celene Ayat Lizzio and Aliya Vajid, sought “to connect scholars, students, and practitioners who have an interest in how communities of Muslims perceive of and adhere to select aspects of family law in the North American context.” Panelists included Dr. Zainab Alwani, the first female jurist to serve on the Fiqh Council of North America; Amin Kassam, member of His Highness Prince Aga Khan Shia Imami Ismaili National Conciliation and Arbitration Board for the United States; and Intisar Rabb, a faculty member at the Boston College Law School, where she teaches in comparative and Islamic Law. The panel was moderated by Sarah Eltantawi, PhD Candidate in the Study of Islam at Harvard’s Committee on the Study of Religion. Following the presentations, audience members were invited to participate in a robust discussion on “how religious values and principles are brought to bear on cases of mediation and arbitration, both within formal legal systems and on alternative forums of dispute resolution.”
From April 14-16, 2010, the Pluralism Project participated in a conference organized by the Center for Interreligious and Communal Leadership (CIRCLE) at Andover Newton Theological School and Hebrew College entitled “Educating Jewish, Christian, and Muslim Leaders for Service in a Multi-Religious World: The American Seminary Conference.” Organized by Andover Newton Theological School, Hebrew College, and the Boston Theological Institute, this national conference brought together veteran academics, new scholars, students, activists, entrepreneurs, and community members for conversations about the importance of interfaith understanding in the education of visionary religious leaders. Assistant Director Kathryn Lohre and Research Coordinator Erin Loeb participated in a breakfast roundtable discussion on Greater Boston Interfaith Initiatives where they presented several Pluralism Project resources, including World Religions in Greater Boston, the Case Study Initiative, and the Boston Workshop. Pluralism Project Director Dr. Diana Eck was also honored with a Boston Theological Institute award for her scholarship, leadership, and continued dedication to interfaith understanding and religious pluralism. The full conference schedule is available at http://www.hebrewcollege.edu/interfaith.
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 Participates in Human Rights Education Conference
On Saturday, November 21, 2009, the Pluralism Project offered a workshop at the “Global Education, Human Rights and the Middle East Region Conference” organized by the Outreach Center at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies. This Workshop brought together educator-leaders from around the world in order to explore the “diversity of approaches taken to discussing human rights in the classroom.” It coincided with the annual meeting of the Middle East Studies Association in Boston. Assistant Director Kathryn Lohre taught the session entitled, “Pluralism and Humanizing: From Headlines to Chalkboards,” which provided an overview of the Pluralism Project and our resources, and an introduction to our Case Study Initiative. The session engaged participants in a lively discussion about how to effectively apply the case study method to human rights education.
Pluralism Project Co-Sponsors Muslim Women’s Leadership Conference
On Friday, October 30, 2009, the Pluralism Project co-sponsored “Muslim Community Leadership in America: Women’s Challenges in Horizons” at Harvard Divinity School. Other sponsors included the HDS Diversity Fund, the Women’s Studies in Religion Program, the Center for the Study of World Religions, and certain member of the HDS faculty. This student-initiated conference was the brainchild of Celene Ayat Lizzio, an MDiv student who organized this conference as a field education project with the help of her peers. Its purpose was to provide “an opportunity for Harvard affiliates and guests to converse about the contributions of women in the American context to the vitality and diversity of lived Islam…We aim to consider how customs, communal expectations, legal frameworks, and religious pedagogies influence women’s communal empowerment.” Guest speakers included Muslim American women who are or were chaplains, scholars, architects, and Islamic legalists.
Case Study Session with Christian Scholars Group on Christian-Jewish Relations at Boston College
On October 23, 2009, Rabbi Justus Baird, the Director of the Center for Multifaith Education at Auburn Seminary joined Pluralism Project Research Director Elinor Pierce for a case study session at Boston College. Baird and Pierce were guests at the annual meeting of the Christian Scholars Group on Christian-Jewish Relations. The session, which included a robust discussion of the case study “A Sign of Division,” also provided an opportunity to explore how the case method is applied in the teaching of religion and theology. This case looks at the ways in which the Middle East conflict often emerges as a challenge to interfaith relations. Baird’s participation – and consultation on the case initiative – is made possible by a grant on “Teaching Pluralism: Case Studies for the Theological and Religious Studies Classroom” from the Center for the Study of World Religions at Harvard Divinity School. Rabbi Baird is currently using Pluralism Project cases in his minimester course at Auburn, “Religious Leadership in a Multifaith World.”
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.”
On October 10, 2009, the Pluralism Project co-sponsored a screening of New Muslim Cool at the Sackler Museum at Harvard University. Directed by Jennifer Maytorena Taylor, this film tells the true life story of Hamza Pérez, a Puerto Rican American hip hop artist who converted to Islam at age 21. Before the screening, the Sackler Museum offered extended hours for the special exhibit, Sacred Spaces: The World of Dervishes, Fakirs and Sufis. After the film, Hamza Pérez answered questions from the nearly 300 students, faculty, staff, religious leaders, and community members in attendance. Dr. Diana L. Eck, director of the Pluralism Project; Ray Williams, director of Education, Harvard Art Museums and Pluralism Project Affiliate; and Dr. Ali Asani, associate director of the Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Islamic Studies Program also offered their reflections on the film.
Pluralism Project Participates in Conference on Educating Religious Leaders
On June 15-16, 2009, the Pluralism Project participated in a conference on “Educating Christian, Jewish, & Muslim Leaders in an Age of Religious Diversity,” which took place on the neighboring campuses of Andover Newton Theological School & Hebrew College. Organized by the Boston Theological Institute, Hartford Seminary, the Interreligious Center on Public Life, the Islamic Council of New England, and the Massachusetts Council of Churches, this event sought to initiate a conversation among faculty and administrators from New England institutions about how to “best educate future religious leaders for service in a world of religious diversity.” Two Pluralism Project summer interns, Josh Daneshforooz and Claire Droste, attended along with Assistant Director Kathryn Lohre. Dr. Diana Eck participated in a public panel program on “Religious Identity in an Age of Religious Diversity” with Rabbi Arthur Green of Hebrew College and Dr. Abdel-Rahman Mohamed of the Islamic Council of New England. The conference is the first in a series of events designed for area scholars, community leaders, and activists to explore these issues, including a national conference that will be held in April 2010. This effort is supported by generous grants from the Fetzer Institute and the Henry Luce Foundation.
2009 Costas Consultation: Mission and Multiple Religious Belonging
On February 27, 2009, the Pluralism Project participated in the 2009 Costas Consultation on Global Mission sponsored by the schools of the Boston Theological Institute and hosted by the Episcopal Divinity School. This year's theme was “Mission and Multiple Religious Belonging.” Assistant Director Kathryn Lohre offered a workshop with Dr. Timothy Tennent, Professor of World Missions and Indian Studies at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary on the topic of “Multiple Belonging in the Age of Pluralism.” Other workshop topics included mystical paths, inter-religious religiousity, and the politics of multiple belonging. A keynote address was given by Joe Montville of George Mason University.
On September 28-29, 2007, we held a seminar on "Women's Interfaith Initiatives After 9/11" at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. Women who established selected women's interfaith organizations formed after 9/11 were invited to join us, our faculty colleagues, and women from other religious and interfaith organizations, for two days of presentations and discussion. In addition, we explored the models and methodologies at play, and considered the relationship of these new organizations to the women's and interfaith movements. We are very grateful to the Radcliffe Institute for making this exploratory seminar possible, and to all of the participants who invested their time and energy towards new collaborations.
Voices of Liberal Islam in Indonesia
On April 17, 2006, the Pluralism Project sponsored an interfaculty luncheon discussion titled “Voices of Liberal Islam in Indonesia” with two young and prominent Islamic thinkers, Ulil Abshar Abdallah and Sukhidi Mulyadi. Abdallah is the founder of Liberal Islam Network, a leading Islamic organization which promotes the notion of a liberal Islam in Indonesia. In 2002 Abdallah and members of the organization were given a fatwa death sentence by Javanese clerics due to their writings on pluralism. Abdallah is currently pursuing graduate studies at Boston University. Mulyadi is an affiliate of the Liberal Islam Network, and he is currently a doctoral student at Harvard. Mulyadi has published extensively in Indonesian as well as international journals. Their presentations provoked lively discussion that touched upon topics like the role of shari'ah and the state, the role of Islam in Indonesia, and religious pluralism.
Chandra Muzaffar Lecture on “Emergent Asia: Whither Religion?”
On April 4, 2006, the Pluralism Project co-sponsored a talk by Chandra Muzaffar at Harvard Divinity School's Center for the Study of World Religions entitled, “Emergent Asia: Whither Religion?” Dr. Muzaffar is a leading human rights activist, author, and teacher. He is the president of the International Movement for a Just World, an NGO in Kuala Lumpur that addresses the challenges to social justice and human dignity in global politics. His latest book is Global Ethic or Global Hegemony? During his Cambridge visit, Dr. Muzaffar also participated in a dinner seminar with students and faculty on “Religious Pluralism in Malaysia.”
Christian Palestinian Peacemaker Jean Zaru Visits Cambridge
On April 2, 2006, Jean Zaru, the presiding clerk of the Ramallah Friends meeting in Ramallah, visited Cambridge to speak at Memorial Church. She also met with a group convened by the Pluralism Project for a luncheon discussion. She is a founding member of Sabeel, an ecumenical liberation theology center in Jerusalem, and the author of A Christian Palestinian Life: Faith and Struggle. In 2003, she participated in the Pluralism Project's conference on “Women, Religion, and Social Change II” as part of our Women’s Networks initiative.
Security and Civil Rights: Muslim Army Chaplain James Yee
On February 28, 2006, former Muslim Chaplain and U.S. Army Captain James Yee spoke at Harvard, sponsored by the Harvard Islamic Society, the Asian-Pacific Law Students Association, and the Pluralism Project. Chaplain Yee served at Guantanamo Bay and spoke of the challenges of learning first-hand about abuses. He responded by authoring policies designed to respect religious rights and security needs. He was accused of espionage and held in solitary confinement; eventually all charges were dropped and his record was cleared. His recent book is entitled For God and Country.
Eastern Religions Come to Western Pennsylvania
On February 10, 2006, the Pluralism Project welcomed affiliate Dr. Stuart Chandler of Indiana University of Pennsylvania to present on his work, "Eastern Religions Come to Western Pennsylvania." This interfaculty event was co-sponsored by the Center for the Study of World Religions at Harvard Divinity School. Dr. Chandler's project, which is printed in booklet form, was also completed as an exhibition organized by the University Museum, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, in partnership with the Center for the Study of Religion in Pennsylvania and The Pluralism Project at Harvard University.
Faith and Service: An Interfaith Perspective
On May 17, 2005, the Pluralism Project hosted H.H. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, the founder of the Art of Living Foundation, one of the world's largest NGOs, active in over 140 countries. H.H. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar also established the International Association for Human Values (IAHV), which has development projects in 25,300 villages, bringing self-reliance to millions of people. Director Diana Eck moderated a panel discussion following his talk; panelists included Rev. Dr. Dorothy Austin, Dr. Ali Asani, Dr. Francis X. Clooney, S.J. and Bernie Steinberg, president and director of Harvard Hillel.
On April 4, 2005, the Pluralism Project hosted an interfaculty luncheon with Baroness Julia Neuberger DBE, rabbi and health care policy expert. Neuberger spoke of her experiences on the commission that reported on Islamophobia in the UK. The conversation included topics such as race relations legislation in the UK, religious schools, and religiously diverse hospital chaplaincies.
February – April 2004, Harvard University
October–November 2003, Harvard University
Interfaculty Working Group, 2000–2001
September 2000 – May 2001, Harvard University