The following events have been sponsored by the Pluralism Project in order to further the work of our interfaith 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.
Research Associate Cody Musselman attended the North American Interfaith Network Connect conference in Detroit, MI. Cody was a recipient of a NAIN young adult scholarship. Read Cody’s report from NAIN Connect 2014.
Pluralism Project at the "Religious Worlds of New York" Seminar
Assistant Director Whittney Barth led a case study discussion for schoolteachers during the “Religious Worlds of New York,” a National Endowment for the Humanities summer seminar co-sponsored by the Interfaith Center of New York and Union Theological Seminary. The group discussed “Adding Eid,” a case whose protagonist, a school superintendent, must determine his options when considering whether to add Eid to the public school calendar.
Diana Eck and Catherine Cornille Co-Led Seminar on Teaching Interfaith Understanding
Professor Diana Eck, Director of the Pluralism Project, and Professor Catherine Cornille, Chair of the Theology Department at Boston College, co-led a four-day seminar on teaching interfaith understanding. The seminar, which was organized by the Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC) and the Council for Independent Colleges, took place at Lesley University with site visits to local religious communities and, a welcome dinner hosted at the Pluralism Project.
Senior Research Associate Presents at ELCA Colleges Conference
Senior Research Associate Brendan Randall represented the Pluralism Project at the 2014 Interfaith Understanding Conference for ELCA Colleges and Universities where he introduced participates to the Pluralism Project's America's Interfaith Infrastructure pilot study. The conference took place in early June at Augustana College in Rock Island, Illinois.
Pluralism Project Director Delivers Lecture on America's "Interfaith Infrastructure"
Pluralism Project Director Diana Eck delivered a lecture titled “Critical for a Common Future: The Interfaith Infrastructure” as part of the University of North Florida’s Interfaith Week. The talk highlighted the importance of cities as laboratories of religious diversity and the necessity of an infrastructure of relationships for the future of our common life.
Pluralism Project Assistant Director Whittney Barth presented the work of the Project to a small group convened by the King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz International Centre for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue (KAICIID). Of particular interest was the Pluralism Project’s pilot study on interfaith initiatives, America's Interfaith Infrastructure: An Emerging Landscape.
Pluralism Project Co-Hosts Reception at AAR Annual Meeting
A reception was held at the 2013 Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Religion to celebrate the formation of an inter-religious and interfaith studies group at the AAR. The event was co-hosted by the Institute for Christian-Jewish Studies and Center for Inter-Religious and Communal Leadership Education (CIRCLE) and the Pluralism Project.
Since 9/11, Muslims in North America have been under a microscope. In particular, the experience of Muslim women has been frequently discussed and scrutinized. This close examination of the lives of Muslims has highlighted the diversity of perspectives within the Muslim community as well as a lot of misinformation aand Islamophobic attitudes from outside the Muslim community
Interns Caitlin Casey and Sana Farooqui, both of Georgetown University, host an informational table for the Pluralism Project at the 9/11 Unity Walk along Embassy Row in Washington, D.C.
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.
In 2010, the United Nations declared the first week of each February “World Interfaith Harmony Week.” Since its inception the following year, members of the Harvard University community have offered programming to the campus and beyond. Partners included the Harvard Chaplains, the Harvard Undergraduate Interfaith Council, the Center for the Study of World Religions, and the Pluralism Project. This year, the week’s events included a screening of the filmSoundtrack to a Revolution: A Documentary; a panel discussion of the book My Neighbor’s Faith; a brown bag lunch conversation about the exhibit “Multifaith Spaces: Symptoms and Agents of Change”; and a student panel on “Doubt and Religion.” Two events, one commemorating Swami Vivekananda’s 150th birthday and another a service project, were rescheduled for March due to the snowstorm that hit the Northeast on February 8th. Click here for more information about World Interfaith Harmony Week.
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.
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.
During the first two weeks of June, the Pluralism Project at Harvard University and Andover Newton Theological School hosted an intensive summer seminar in Greater Boston that challenged participants to grow in their leadership capacity by discussing case studies, making site visits to local religious communities, and learning how to be effective in public narrative. Twenty-two students from the Boston-area theological schools and two Pluralism Project undergraduate interns participated in the “Building an Interfaith Community and Leadership: The Boston Workshop," a seminar made possible by generous support from the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation. Guest instructors from local Sikh, Buddhist, Christian, Muslim, Hindu and Jewish communities introduced participants to their houses of worship and religious practices. Case studies and discussion, led by co-instructors Dr. Diana Eck and Dr. Jennifer Peace, invited the cohort to explore the challenges and opportunities that arise when building an interfaith community. Participants also attended a day-long training on the use of public narrative, led by Dr. Marshall Ganz of the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. Our sincere thanks to all who contributed to this collaborative effort, especially the guest instructors!
Pluralism Project Welcomes Interfaith Delegation from Bosnia-Herzegovina
In May, Diana Eck, Whittney Barth and intern Amrita Dani welcomed to the Pluralism Project a delegation from the Inter-religious Council of Bosnia-Herzegovina. The delegation, comprised of leaders within the Christian, Jewish, and Muslims faiths, was hosted by the Harvard University Marshall's Office in conjunction with WorldBoston. They were as heartened to hear about the energies of the interfaith movement in the U.S., as we were in hearing about the growth of local interfaith councils in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
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.
On March 20-22, Research Director Elinor Pierce joined our colleagues at the University of Manchester (U.K.) for an advisory council meeting and conference of “Multifaith Spaces: Symptoms and Agents of Religious and Social Change.” This international conference, which brought together architects, academics, administrators, and others involved with Multi-Faith Spaces, featured creative responses to changing religious needs.
This three-year study of Multi-Faith Spaces, initiated by Dr. Ralf Brand, Dr. Andrew Crompton, Rev. Dr. Terry Biddington, and Dr. Chris Hewson, concludes in late 2012. For more information about this study, or for information about their traveling exhibition, please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
On February 7th, the Pluralism Project and the Center for the Study of World Religions at Harvard Divinity School hosted a panel event entitled “The Contours of Common Ground.” The event gave panelists an opportunity to reflect on different conceptions of “common ground” and its role in fostering interfaith engagement.
The Pluralism Project would like to extend our thanks to Lucia Hulsether, field education intern at the CSWR, and the Project’s own April Winebrenner-Palo for organizing this event! Video of the event is available on the Harvard Divinity School website.
In early February, Harvard University chaplains, staff, students, and faculty organized interfaith events on and around campus to celebrate World Interfaith Harmony Week, first designated the first week of February by the United Nations in 2011. The Memorial Church and the Harvard Interfaith Collaborative welcomed Rami Nashashibi, Executive Director of Inner-City Muslim Action Network in Chicago, Illinois, to campus to speak on the spiritual legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The Pluralism Project hosted a film screening and discussion of Valarie Kaur’s film “Divided We Fall.” The week also included an interfaith arts festival, a panel discussing the “Contours of Common Ground” in interfaith work, and a service opportunity to alleviate hunger in Greater Boston.
Assistant Director Speaks About "America's Interfaith Infrastructure" at Miami University
Assistant Director Whittney Barth returned to her undergraduate alma mater to discuss with the Miami University campus and wider Oxford, Ohio communities preliminary results from the Pluralism Project’s pilot study “America’s Interfaith Infrastructure: An Emerging Landscape" and the role of interfaith engagement on college campuses.
On October 25, 2011, as part of its fall programming for its 2011-2012 International Series on world religions and interfaith dialogue, the Mississippi University for Women will screen our documentary film, Fremont, USA. For more information about this and other events in the series, click here. The series is made possible through financial assistance from the National Endowment for the Humanities through the Mississippi Humanities Council.
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.
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.
Pluralism Project Hosts Interfaith Coalition for Peace in New Delhi
On May 2, 2011 the Pluralism Project hosted a visit from Dr. Syed Zafar Mahmood, president of the Interfaith Coalition for Peace (ICP) based in New Delhi, India. ICP is “a secular non profit organization enabling people to achieve the full realization of their rights as human beings” which is “simultaneously involved in non-formal interfaith, academic courses and advocacy of community care.” For more information, see: http://www.icpindia.org/index.htm
Workshop with MIT Addir Fellows
In April 2011 Assistant Director Kathryn Lohre offered a case study workshop to the MIT Addir Fellows during their spring retreat. The MIT Addir Fellows are graduate and undergraduate students who commit to weekly dialogue in small groups, monthly speakers’ presentations, and two mini-retreats over the course of the academic year. The program’s mission is “to equip individuals of different faiths with the skills to engage with and understand those from whom they differ; to enhance inter-group relations on the MIT campus, and to deepen individuals’ self-awareness.” Participants engaged in discussion of “Driven by Faith or Customer Service? Muslim Taxi Drivers at the MSP Airport,” which explores the dilemma faced by the Airport Director in 2006 when Muslim taxi drivers refused to transport passengers carrying alcohol.
“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.
Auburn Case Studies Minimester
Pluralism Project case studies were again featured in the 2010 fall minimester course sponsored by Auburn Theological Seminary entitled, “Religious Leadership in a Multifaith World.” Seminary students from six schools in the New York region took part in case discussions of religious and civic leadership, “analyz[ing] each scenario with colleagues from different faith backgrounds, and then reflect[ing] on what kind of leadership they hope to offer in such a situation.” The minimester is anticipated to be offered again in 2011.
Pluralism Project Screens Fremont, USA at Lasell College
On February 15, Pluralism Project Research Director Elinor Pierce led a screening of the film Fremont, USA: A City’s Encounter with Religious Diversity. The screening was organized for Dr. Dana Janbek’s “Intercultural Communication” courses at Lasell College in Newton, Massachusetts, and was open to the entire college. Following the screening, Ellie led a Q&A session with audience members, responding to questions at the intersection of religion and communication, and relating the film’s core issues to the context of Greater Boston.
Pluralism Project Co-Sponsors Harvard Interfaith Awareness Week
The Pluralism Project was one of several co-sponsors of Harvard Interfaith Awareness Week, February 7-11, coinciding with the first-ever annual UN World Interfaith Harmony Week. As one of the week’s events, on February 9, the Pluralism Project sponsored a screening of Fremont, USA: A City’s Encounter with Religious Diversity. Dr. Diana Eck offered introductory remarks, and Pluralism Project Research Director Elinor Pierce – who co-directed and co-produced the film with longtime affiliate Rachel Antell – responded to audience questions about the filmmaking process, and provided updates on how interfaith activity and civic engagement in Fremont, California have continued to evolve. Dr. Diana Eck and Assistant Director Kathryn Lohre were featured in an Odyssey Networks video series on UN World Interfaith Harmony Week.
Pluralism Project Hosts Author of Growing Up Global
On February 9, the Pluralism Project welcomed Homa S. Tavanger, author of Growing Up Global: Raising Children to Be at Home in the World, as a special guest. She spoke to staff and student researchers about the links between global citizenship and the challenges of parenting in multi-religious America. Ms. Tavanger, who is active in the interfaith movement in her native Philadelphia, was in town to speak to a Greater Boston Business Network event, co-sponsored by Primary Source.
Meeting of the Boston Chapter of the Religion Communicators Council (RCC)
On February 4, Pluralism Project Research Coordinator Erin Loeb presented on the Pluralism Project at a meeting of the Boston Chapter of the Religion Communicators Council (RCC). Erin provided an overview of the work of the Project, followed by an in-depth introduction to World Religions in Greater Boston and Religious Diversity News, explaining their value as tools for religion communicators. The presentation was followed by a discussion about the emerging role of social media in communicating about religion.
Eck Addresses Phillips Academy Students on Pluralism
On January 12, Dr. Eck addressed students of Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts during their weekly All School Meeting on the topic of religious pluralism in America. Phillips Academy, a residential secondary school in the liberal arts tradition, is home to six student religious organizations, including an Interfaith Council, and groups for Hindu, Jewish, Muslim, and Christian students.
Fremont, USA screened in Barnstable, Massachusetts and Kansas City, Missouri
On October 20, our documentary film Fremont, USA was featured as part of the Town of Barnstable's Peace Week in a screening at the Cape Cod Community College. Then on November 11, it was screened at the Plaza Library in Kansas City, Missouri. The event, part of the Cultural Conversations series, included a discussion relating the film to religious diversity in Kansas City.
Workshop with MIT Addir Fellows
In November 2010 Summer Fellow Brendan Randall offered a case study workshop to the MIT Addir Fellows during their fall retreat. The Addir program’s mission is “to equip individuals of different faiths with the skills to engage with and understand those from whom they differ; to enhance inter-group relations on the MIT campus, and to deepen individuals’ self-awareness.” The Fellows discussed “Adding Eid,” a Pluralism Project case study about a decision by the Cambridge Public Schools Superintendent to add Eid as a holiday to the district calendar.
OneJax Interfaith Conversation
On October 25, 2010, the Baptist Medical Center in Jacksonville, FL hosted a panel event entitled, “Can We Talk? An Interfaith Conversation to Celebrate the Oneness of Humanity.” The event was a collaborative effort by Baptist Health, OneJax and the Interfaith Council of Jacksonville. Research Director Elinor Pierce was among the panelists, along with Jack Logue, Director of St. Vincent's Spirtuality Center; Rev. Torin Dailey of First Baptist Church of Oakland; Rabbi Joshua Lief of Congregation Ahavath Chesed; and Mr. Ashraf Shaikh of the Islamic Center of Northeast Florida. Celeste Krueger, the executive director of OneJax, moderated the discussion among the panelists and with the audience, exploring such themes as healthcare, business, education, religious leadership, and civic engagement.
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.
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.
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 Welcomes Recent Alumna Stephanie Saldaña for Book Reading
On Friday, February 19, 2010, the Pluralism Project co-sponsored a reading with Stephanie Saldaña from her recently published book, The Bread of Angels: A Journey to Love and Faith. Stephanie is a recent alumna of the Pluralism Project and Harvard Divinity School. The book explores the year of her Fulbright fellowship in Damascus, Syria, where she sets out to explore the role of the Prophet Jesus in Islam against the backdrop of the US-led war in Iraq. As she struggles with her own sense of vocation, she meets a French novice monk who becomes her companion along the way. Stephanie read passages from her book, and conversed with the audience on the themes of hospitality, inter-cultural and inter-religious dialogue, vocation, and love. The event, which drew nearly 50 people, was co-sponsored by the Center for the Study of World Religions, the Center for Middle Eastern Studies Outreach Center, Harvard Divinity School Alumni Relations, and the Pluralism Project.
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.
On Thursday, November 19, 2009, Dr. Diana Eck offered a lecture entitled, “Interfaith: The Most Difficult Dialogues,” as part of the 2009-2010 Addir Fellows Community Lecture Series. The Addir Fellows MIT Interfaith Dialogue Program “brings together thirty students of different faiths to learn from and engage each other in a stimulating environment…[in order] to enhance inter-group relations on the MIT campus, and to deepen individuals’ self-awareness.” It is sponsored by The Office of the Dean for Student Life, the Board of Chaplains, and the Chaplain to the Institute. Dr. Eck’s lecture illustrated the interfaith religious landscape in the US, reflected on various obstacles to interfaith dialogue that she has encountered in her own work, and offered direction for how to continue to engage in difficult dialogues.
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.
On May 15, 2009, the Pluralism Project sponsored the U.S. premiere of the short documentary film, La Trappe. Directed by Harvard Divinity School student Lina Verchery (MDiv ’10), this film explores the surprising connection between the French-speaking Acadian lobster fishermen of Chéticamp and their neighbors: the Buddhist monks and nuns of Gampo Abbey, Shambhala's monastic headquarters. Although seemingly divided by language, culture and religion, these two communities nevertheless share more than meets the eye. The film was followed by a panel discussion moderated by Dr. Diana L. Eck. Panelists included Dr. Christopher Queen, lecturer on the Study of Religion at Harvard University; Frank Reynolds, former resident of Gampo Abbey; and Lina Verchery, director of La Trappe. This event was sponsored by the Pluralism Project in partnership with Alliance Française, Boston Shambhala Center, Consulate General of Boston, Cooperative Metropolitan Ministries, and French Consulate of Boston.
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.
World Council of Churches-US Conference Decade to Overcome Violence Committee
On October 20, 2008, the Pluralism Project hosted members of the World Council of Churches - US Conference Decade to Overcome Violence Committee. “The Decade to Overcome Violence: Churches Seeking Reconciliation and Peace 2001 – 2010 (DOV) is an initiative of the World Council of Churches. It is a global movement that strives to strengthen existing efforts and networks for preventing and overcoming violence, as well as inspire the creation of new ones.” The US Committee seeks to make these efforts visible and vital to the lives of churches in the United States. Guests included Rev. Deborah DeWinter, programme executive of the WCC-US Conference; Rev. Rothang Chhangte, Director of Ecumenical Formation, American Baptist Churches USA; Rev. Loey Powell, Co-Team Leader of the Cleveland-Based Team, Justice and Witness Minsitries, United Church of Christ; and Phil Jones, Director of the Church of the Brethren Witness/Washington Office. The meeting, which sought to identify synergies between the work of the DOV and the Pluralism Project, focused primarily on the importance of teaching children and young adults positive peacebuilding skills through a variety of ecumenical and interfaith programs and projects.
Father Nicholas Rundle, Mission Australia
On October 16, 2008, the Pluralism Project hosted Father Nicholas Rundle, a Senior Chaplain with Mission Australia. Father Rundle was in the United States to learn more about how Mission Australia might provide a more “faith friendly” environment for staff through programs, policies, and practices. Father Rundle then went on to Detroit, Michigan to visit the leaders of the Ford Interfaith Network at the Ford Motor Company to learn about their model.
“On Faith” Symposium at Harvard
On September 23, 2008, the Pluralism Project participated in a one-day symposium sponsored by the Harvard chaplains called “On Faith at Harvard.” The symposium explored the question of the role of religion at Harvard, and in higher education in general. The Pluralism Project offered a presentation entitled “Engaging Religious Difference,” which included a sneak-peak of our new documentary film, Fremont, USA. Highlights of the day included an interfaith Iftaar sponsored by the Harvard Islamic Society and a keynote address by journalist Sally Quinn.
A Dream in Doubt
On March 19, 2008, the Pluralism Project co-sponsored a screening of the documentary, A Dream in Doubt, presented by the Harvard Graduate School of Education Diversity Innovation Fund and the Committee on the Study of Religion. The film’s producer, Preetmohan Singh, Deputy Director of Public Policy at the Interfaith Alliance in Washington, D.C. was present. This award-winning documentary explores the fate of the Sikh-American community in Phoenix, Arizona in the wake of the September 11 terror attacks. It features Rana Sodhi, an Indian immigrant whose turban and beard—articles of his Sikh faith—now symbolize America’s new enemy. More information about the film can be found at: www.adreamindoubt.org
Pluralism Project Hosts State Department Delegation from India
On March 13, 2008, the Pluralism Project hosted a State Department delegation from India. The delegation, which was dedicated to exploring interfaith dialogue in the United States, made stops in Washington DC, Houston, Los Angeles, and Louisville before coming to Boston. The group included a professor of Arabic Studies; a president of a peace council that advocates for a modern, secular Islam; a director of several educational institutions that focus on public health issues; and a businessman who promotes education for Muslim children. After meeting with Diana Eck and Pluralism Project staff, they also attended Dr. Eck's course, “Hindu Myth, Image and Pilgrimage,” and visited the Center for the Study of World Religions at Harvard Divinity School.
Advanced Screening of Constantine's Sword
On March 5, 2008, the Pluralism Project was one of ten cosponsors of an advanced screening of James Carroll's Constantine's Sword, a documentary film directed by Oren Jacoby. According to the film's website,"Constantine's Sword is a compelling personal narrative - a kind of detective story - as one man uncovers the dark areas of his own past, searching for a better future." Author and Boston Globe columnist James Carroll, who co-produced the film, was present to answer questions following the screening, which took place at Boston University. Organized by Cooperative Metropolitan Ministries, the screening was also co-sponsored by the American Jewish Committee Greater Boston Chapter, Boston Theological Institute, Brandeis University Interfaith Chaplaincy and BUILD Fellows Program, Hebrew College, Jewish Community Relations Committee, Marsh Chapel at Boston University, Massachusetts Board of Rabbis, the Massachusetts Council of Churches, the Paulist Center, and the RUAH Spirituality Institute.
Religious Pluralism in a Time of Extremism: The Campus Responds
On March 2, 2008, the Pluralism Project participated in a day-long conference at Tufts University entitled, “Religious Pluralism in a Time of Extremism: The Campus Responds.” Keynote speakers included Diana L. Eck, Mohammed Abu-Nimer, and Marc Gopin; Victor Kazanjian moderated their discussion on the topic of “The Imperative for Sustaining Dialogue in Difficult Times.” Workshops were led by students, faculty, community leaders and activists from organizations in Greater Boston and around the country, and focused on interfaith dialogue, social action, leadership skills, and the media. Pluralism Project Assistant Director Kathryn Lohre screened our documentary film “Acting on Faith: Women's New Religious Activism in America” in one workshop. This conference was hosted by the Campus Dialogues Program, and marked the culmination of a two-year partnernship among campuses at Tufts University, Wellesley College, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Brandeis University, and the University of Maryland, and supported by the Department of Homeland Security. The goal of the Campus Dialogues Program is to “support the development, implementation, and refinement of programs aimed at reducing intergroup tensions among university students of different religions in the United States.”
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.
TIDE: The Wave of Change Conference
On June 26, 2007, the Pluralism Project sponsored a day-long conference organized by Interfaith Action’s Youth Leadership Program in Sharon, Massachusetts. This day-long conference, called “Teenage Interfaith Diversity Education (TIDE): The Wave of Change Conference,” was held at Harvard Divinity School. High school youth from Sharon led workshops, activities, and dialogue sessions designed to equip other youth participants with the skills they need to engage with religious difference in their own communities. While most participants were from the Greater Boston area, there were also participants from New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Maine, and Rhode Island. There was a simultaneous track for adults accompanying these youth, either as youth leaders or as parents/guardians.
Interfaith Academies for Religious Leaders
In late June 2007, Ellie Pierce, senior researcher at the Pluralism Project, traveled to Kansas City, Missouri for the Interfaith Academies for Religious Leaders. These academies, which were a collaborative effort of The Pluralism Project, Religions for Peace-USA, Saint Paul School of Theology, and the Greater Kansas City Interfaith Council, were an opportunity for religious leaders and emerging religious leaders alike to learn more about other faiths and engaging across faith traditions. Ellie taught a case study she has written on Palos Heights, Illinois.
Sikh-ing Harmony: An Evening of Art, Music, Film, and Dialogue
On April 11, 2007, the Pluralism Project co-sponsored an event with the Sikh Council on Religion and Education and The Dialogue Forum. “Sikh-ing Harmony: An Evening of Art, Music, Film and Dialogue Reflecting on the Experience of Sikh-Americans in a Post-9/11 Era” featured photography by Gabriel Brown, Sartaj Singh’s film, “Sikh on the Street,” and the children’s kirtan group from the Milford Gurdwara. The Sikh-ing Harmony photography exhibit documents a day in the life of Satnam Singh, who lives and works in the Boston area. The exhibit will remain at the Pluralism Project as a permanent installation, and you can also view it online as a slide show.
Approximately 10 of the 57 quilts, representing a range of faith traditions, will be on display in Andover Chapel at HDS from Monday, October 2, through mid-December 2006, and may be viewed when the chapel is free of classes and other group meetings. The Pluralism Project has been a partner and supporter of the Faith Quilts Project. Read more at our report on the Grand Exhibition of the Faith Quilts in April 2006.. Andover Chapel is located on the second floor of Andover Hall on the campus of Harvard Divinity School. For more on the Faith Quilts, visit www.faithquilts.org. For more on Religious and Spiritual Life at Harvard Divinity School, please visit www.hds.harvard.edu/spiritual/index.html. Finally, for directions to HDS, please visit www.hds.harvard.edu/about_hds/directions.html.
June 26–August 4, 2000, at Harvard University
November 18–20, 1999, at the Barker Center, Harvard University
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.