The following events have been sponsored by the Pluralism Project in order to further the work of our international 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.
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 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.
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 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.
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
“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.
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.”
Pluralism Project Moderates Panel at “Women2Women International Conference”
On August 4, 2010, Pluralism Project Assistant Director Kathryn Lohre moderated a panel of local women leaders in a discussion on women’s roles and leadership in faith-based and interfaith organizing at the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center. The event was part of Empower Peace’s “Women2Women International Conference,” a yearly conference for over 100 teenage women from the United States and the Arab and Muslim world who come together in order to build “much-needed bridges of understanding and trust between improbably allies, uniting them across shared interests and purpose.” The panel was preceded by an orientation to the Center, and to Islam in America; delegates also had the opportunity to participate in or observe evening prayers. Lohre helped organize the panel, which included Jenny Peace, managing director of the Center for Interreligious Leadership Education (or CIRCLE) at Andover Newton School & Hebrew College; Janet Penn, executive director of Interfaith Action in Sharon, Mass.; and Malika Rashdan, director of ICNA Relief Boston.
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.
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 April 20, 2010, the Pluralism Project hosted a visit with Eisenhower Fellow Rev. Dr. Petra Bahr. As the Commissioner of Cultural Affairs in Germany, Dr. Bahr represents the Protestant Church of Germany (EKD) to political leaders and the public. During her fellowship, she is seeking to learn more about the religious landscape in the United States, with a particular interest in how religion and public policy are related in this context. In several cities, including Boston, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, San Diego, and Houston, she will meet with religious and interfaith leaders, scholars, and think tanks. Our conversation with her focused primarily on the emergence of Muslim organizations that play a role in fostering greater civic engagement, as well as the range of grassroots interfaith organizations and initiatives that are cropping up across the nation. We also discussed the religious landscape and in Germany, and the real challenges that are unfolding with regard to public school curriculum, and the building of mosques and other religious centers.
Pluralism Project at the Religion Communication Congress 2010
From April 7-10, 2010, the Pluralism Project participated in the Religion Communication Congress held in Chicago, Illinois. The Congress, held once every 10 years, brings together hundreds of communications professionals in an interfaith forum to learn new skills, to network, and to creatively respond to the current challenges in the field. This year’s theme, “Embracing Change: Communicating Faith in Today’s World,” was explored by a number of plenary speakers, workshops, and special events. Pluralism Project Director Diana Eck presented in the same plenary with Dr. Ingrid Mattson, president of the Islamic Society of North America. Through an engaging powerpoint presentation, Dr. Eck explored issues of communications as they relate to the challenge of religious pluralism. Pluralism Project Assistant Director Kathryn Lohre offered a workshop entitled “Tools for Communicating in Multi-Religious America.” Other conference themes are detailed on the website: http://www.rccongress2010.org/
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.
Pluralism Project Co-Sponsors Harvard College in Asia Program Conference
From January 30 – February 6, 2010 the Harvard College in Asia Program hosted its annual conference on the theme of Social Entrepreneurship: Innovation, Service and Empowerment, which was co-sponsored by the Pluralism Project. The conference was attended by six student delegations from universities in Turkey, Singapore, Korea, Japan, China, and India, and is part of a larger exchange between Harvard students in HCAP and students from Asia. On Thursday, February 4,the Pluralism Project hosted a dinner discussion that explored “the role of diversity, pluralism, and globalization in how individuals can achieve social change.” Dr. Diana Eck, who is also a faculty advisor to HCAP, moderated the discussion and invited reflections from the Project’s special guests: Rev. Kim, founder and priest of the Won Buddhism of Boston center in Somerville; Mr. Ibrahim Sayar, the director of the Boston Dialogue Foundation; and Fatih Degirmenci, the Vice President of the Harvard Dialogue Forum. Throughout the week, Pluralism Project Research Associate Sarah Harcourt, who is studying religious studies and education at Harvard Divinity School, regularly consulted with students as they undertook a project exploring the cultural values that would inform designing a charter school in their home contexts, and served as a judge for the final project presentations.
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.
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.
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.
On May 22, 2009, the Pluralism Project hosted a State Department delegation from Sweden. The group included two representatives from Swedish Muslims for Peace and Justice; a youth immigrant contact who helps new immigrants navigate issues of religious difference and assimilation in a secular Swedish society; and the chairman of the Kista Folk High School Association, an advocate for Swedish Muslim equality. A lively conversation with the diverse delegation centered on issues of interfaith relations, perceptions of Islam, and Muslim life in the United States. After their visit to Boston, the delegation traveled to Washington, D.C. to continue their discussions on the political, social and educational issues affecting American Muslims.
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.
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.
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.
Islam: Scholarship and Practice in the United States
On March 1, 2007, the Pluralism Project hosted a State Department delegation of scholars from Egypt, Jordan, and Syria at Harvard University. Their visit was a continuation of a study-tour which began last year titled, “Islam: Scholarship and Practice in the United States.” Led by Father Nabil Haddad, executive director of the Jordanian Interfaith Coexistence Research Center in Amman, Jordan, and sponsored by WorldBoston, the tour also made stops in DC and Philadelphia. The tour aims to convey an understanding of the role of religion in American public life; to broaden awareness of the study of religion, specifically Islam, in the United States; and to explore the compatibility of religious practice and democratic processes in a multi-religious society. During their visit with the Pluralism Project, they were particularly interested in the role academia plays in influencing the American media's portrayal of Islam. For more information about the delegation's visit to the United States, visit http://www.worldboston.org/Imams.htm
On October 13, 2006, The Pluralism Project and the Women’s Studies in Religion Program co-sponsored “Jerusalem Women Speak: Three Women, Three Faiths, One Shared Vision.” This event, held at Harvard Divinity School, brought together three women from Israel/Palestine to share their stories, their struggles, and their hopes. Speakers included Ghada Ageel, a Muslim Palestinian from Khan Younis Refugee Camp in the Gaza Strip; Shireen Khamis, a Christian Palestinian from Beit Jala in the West Bank; and Rela Mazali, a Jewish Israeli from Herzila on Israel’s Mediterranean Coast. Jerusalem Women Speak is an annual tour coordinated by Partners for Peace.
On Thursday, July 6, 2006, the Pluralism Project hosted a delegation from India and Bangladesh as part of the U.S. Department of State's International Visitor Leadership Program. The participants included religious leaders such as imams and principals of madrassahs, as well as teachers and community leaders who are interested in questions of religious pluralism, Islam in America, and the study of religion. The guests were particularly interested in how religious pluralism in India compares to religious pluralism in America. The delegation was in the U.S. from June 17 - July 8.
On May 8, 2006 the Pluralism Project hosted a State Department visit with guests from Jordan and Egypt, many of whom were imams. Their study-tour was on the topic "Islam: Scholarship and Practice in the United States." The visit was born out of an initiative in interfaith dialogue that was started by Father Nabil Haddad, executive director of the Jordanian Interfaith Coexistence Research Center in Amman, Jordan. The purpose of the tour, which included Boston, Washington DC, Detroit and Dearborn, Michigan, was to explore the role of religion and Islam in public life; to broaden understanding about the importance of religious study in the US; and to examine the compatibility of religious practice and democratic processes in a multi-religious society. Other delegations will be sent in August 2006 and in January and May 2007. Note: Syrian participants were unable to enter the United States.
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.
On March 2, 2006, the Pluralism Project co-sponsored an event with the Kennedy School of Government's Women in Public Policy Program and the Islam in the West Project entitled, “Emerging Forms of Muslim Women’s Leadership.” The featured speakers included Sarah Eltantawi, media commentator on American Muslim affairs and Middle East policy and doctoral student in religious studies at Harvard University and Raheel Raza, author of Their Jihad...Not My Jihad!: A Muslim Canadian Woman Speaks Out. Ms. Raza was also the first Muslim woman to lead congregational Friday prayers in Canada. In a Q&A session, the participants explored questions of Muslim women's leadership. A reception and book signing followed the discussion, which drew more than 75 people from the Harvard community and the greater Boston area.
Salman Ahmad South Asian Quake Benefit
On November 29, 2005, the Pluralism Project co-hosted Salman Ahmad at Harvard for a South Asian Quake Benefit. Ahmad, the lead singer in South Asia's biggest rock band, Junoon, screened It's My Country Too!, his new film about Muslims in America after 9/11. After the screening, a benefit concert for victims and survivors of the South Asian earthquake was held in the Memorial Church at Harvard. Ahmad played a range of music from Sufi-rock to Pakistani folk songs. His stories about his recent trip to the earthquake-torn regions of Pakistan inspired the Harvard community to raise over $7,000 for the Edhi Foundation earthquake relief efforts. The event was co-sponsored by the South Asia Initiative, Office of the Arts, Sanskrit & Indian Studies, Islam in the West Program, Center for the Study of World Religions, Harvard Divinity School, South Asian Association, Dharma, Harvard Islamic Society, Harvard College Interfaith Council, and the Harvard Foundation.
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.
November 22-23, 2002, in conjunction with the American Academy of Religion Annual Conference in Toronto, Canada.