October 7, 2013

In this Issue:

  • The Pluralism Project Launches Online Version of On Common Ground: World Religions in America
  • Thank You for Your Feedback!
  • It’s That Time of Year! Third Annual Pluralism Project Photo Contest Now Open!
  • Pluralism Project Summer Internships Conclude
  • Pluralism Project Staff at Cooperative Metropolitan Ministries’ Boston-Based Interfaith Youth Initiative
  • Staff, Friends, and Alumni: Comings and Goings
  • Pluralism Project at the Upcoming Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Religion
  • Multireligious Calendar Now Featured on Pluralism Project Website
  • Social Media September

Dear Friends,

Greetings to you this new academic year! It was a brief and busy summer for us here in Cambridge. In June, I gave lectures in Dallas and Chicago. I was invitedby theCouncilon Christian Unity and the Stalcup School of Theology for Laity to discuss Christian unity in a multi-religious world. This was the twelfth Joe A. and Nancy Vaughn Stalcup Lecture on Christian Unity and it was held at East Dallas Christian Church. The text of my remarks is available online in “Call to Unity: E-Journal.” I also had a chance to see some of the large Islamic centers in Dallas.

Later in June, I gave a public lecture at the Newberry Library in Chicago as a part of the National Endowment for the Humanities Bridging Cultures at Community Colleges program entitled “Out of Many: Religious Pluralism in America.” The next day, I joined the twenty community college faculty participants for a seminar in which I discussed the work of the Pluralism Project, highlighting in particular our growing Case Study Initiative.

In July, I traveled to London where I received an Honorary Doctorate at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London (see right). This was a special pleasure because I attended SOAS as a Fulbright scholar when I did my master’s degree. It has become much larger and even more diverse over these years. I found it to be a place of great energy and excellence for the study of Asia, Africa, and the Middle East.

By mid-summer our internship program at the Pluralism Project was in full swing! We welcomed nearly twenty enthusiastic interns from across the country (and one in Cairo, Egypt) who spent their summers researching religious diversity in their hometowns. Each student worked closely with senior staff to develop a research project, visit religious centers, and conduct interviews with local leaders and practitioners. Continue reading this newsletter for more about the range of research covered by our summer interns. We’d like to extend a hearty thank you to everyone who participated in this research across the country, including those who welcomed our students into your temples, gurdwaras, schools, and communities.

August was a particularly exciting time here at the Pluralism Project as we launched an updated and online version of On Common Ground: World Religions in America. As many of you know, the Pluralism Project and Columbia University Press first published On Common Ground in 1997 as a CD-ROM (read more about that history here). With a grant from the Lilly Endowment Inc. and with the help of many of our affiliates and friends across the country, we were able to launch an updated and online On Common Ground in advance of the 2013-2014 academic year.

Now, the leaves in Boston are beginning to show signs of red and gold and students are fully engaged in the work of another academic year. We’re glad to be welcoming new student staff members to the Pluralism Project. We’re also launching our third annual photo contest (see below). Later this fall, the Pluralism Project will be headed to the American Academy of Religion conference in Baltimore but more on that soon, my friends.

All the best,

Diana L. Eck


The Pluralism Project Launches Online Version of On Common Ground: World Religions in America

On Common Ground: World Religions in America has been a go-to resource for scholars, students, teachers, clergy, and journalists seeking to explore contemporary and historical elements of America’s multi-religious reality. The resource remained in high demand even into this past summer, even though it needed updates to form and content.The resource’s time-tested pedagogical approach remains intact, featuring inter-related essays and multimedia in three sections: Landscape, Traditions, and Encounter. To read more about these sections and their updated features, check out our press release here.

We’d love to hear about your experience of the new and improved On Common Ground. How are you using it in your congregation, classroom, organization, or home? Why do you think OCG has stood the test of time? Looking ahead, what can we do to improve the resource? Please take a minute to fill out an online user survey so we can know how we might better support your academic and religious literacy needs. The survey is available here.

The new online and updated version of On Common Ground: World Religions in America was made possible by funding from the Lilly Endowment Inc.

Thank You for Your Feedback!

The Pluralism Project would like to thank everyone who shared with us your experiences of the online version of On Common Ground just after our initial launch.

We’re please to announce Thomas Rickards and Marie Oakberg are our two prize winners, picked at random from the responses we received to our feedback survey.

Mr. Rickards is Chair of the Religious Studies Department at the William Penn Charter School in Philadelphia, PA. Thomas says he uses the Pluralism Project’s resources in his classroom “to both encourage research among my students and to show them that they themselves can do original research as they study and build pluralism in the communities around them.”

Marie Oakberg is a self-employed Organization Development Practitioner living in Delaware. She runs diversity training workshops, including a webinar on religious diversity in the workplace. She plans to use the new online version On Common Ground as a part of these workshops.

Congratulations, Tom and Marie!

It’s That Time of Year! Third Annual Pluralism Project Photo Contest Now Open!

2011 winning photo submission from Baskar Goplan. Image is an aerial view of the grand opening of the Hindu Temple of Minnesota (Maple Grove, MN)We invite you and your students, networks, and organizations to participate in our fourth annual Pluralism Project Photo Contest. We are looking for high-resolution digital images that convey the vibrancy of religious diversity in the USA. We are particularly interested in images in the following categories:

  • Religious practices and rituals
  •  Religious centers, including festivals, center openings, and parades
  • Participation of religious groups in American civic life
  • Interfaith encounter or social action
  • Women’s leadership and participation
  • Emerging leadership within Muslim and Sikh communities
  • Images of the Atheist/Humanist, Bahá’í, Confucian, Daoist, Native American, Shintō, Unitarian Universalist, and Zoroastrian communities in the USA

One grand-prize winner will be selected; the winning photographer will receive a $250 cash prize and an extended exposé in the spotlight on our homepage, www.pluralism.org. Entries must be received by October 21st, 2013 at 5pm EST.

All winning photos may be featured in the online publication, On Common Ground: World Religions in America, on the Pluralism Project website, or on the Pluralism Project at Harvard University Facebook page and Twitter feed. The photographer’s name will be cited.

For more information and for guidelines on how to submit photos, please visit: http://www.pluralism.org/pages/contest.

To view slideshows of previous years’ winners, check out 2012  and 2011.

Pluralism Project Summer Internships Conclude

“I was quite surprised to find about abut the variety and quantity of religious organizations in my community,” reflected one intern at the conclusion of her summer research. Students from nearly twenty colleges and universities across America interned with the Pluralism Project this summer. Thanks to this ambitious team, we will soon be adding new and updated research for Boise, Idaho, Columbus, Ohio, Jackson, Mississippi, Washington, D.C., Houston and San Antonio, Texas, Portland, Boston and Western Massachusetts, Bowling Green, Kentucky, and Miami, Florida.

Clink on the city name to view examples of new profiles and updated directory information from Columbus, OH and Nashville, TN.

Pluralism Project interns Caitlin Casey and Sana Farooqui, of Georgetown University, represented the Pluralism Project at the 9/11 Unity Walk along Embassy Row in Washington, D.C. The walk began at the Hebrew Congregation and stopped at several religious communities before reaching a conclusion at a statue commemorating Mahatma Gandhi. Livestream of the event is available online at the 9/11 Unity Walk’s website. Senior staff would like to thank Caitlin and Sana for representing the Pluralism Project in our nation’s capital!

Pluralism Project Staff at Cooperative Metropolitan Ministries’ Boston-Based Interfaith Youth Initiative

In early July, Assistant Director Whittney Barth led a case study workshop with high school students participating in Cooperative Metropolitan Ministries’ Interfaith Youth Initiative. Students and adult guides discussed a case study that presented dilemmas that can arise when living in a multifaith community on a college campus.

Whittney was joined at IFYI by Pluralism Project interns Alanna Copenhaver, Afif Rahman, and Kayla Jackson. Additionally, two Pluralism Project interns, Jessie Post and high school student Amanda Madigan, attended the full IFYI program as a staff member and as a participant, respectivel

Staff, Friends, and Alumni: Comings and Goings

2013 Pluralism Project Staff (photo by Whittney BarthThe Pluralism Project senior staff would like to welcome our new research associates and intern for the 2013-2014 academic year. To read more about the new crew, visit our staff webpage. Click here to read a newly published research report on the annual meeting of the President’s Interfaith Campus and Community Service Challenge filed by one of our new research associates, Usra Ghazi.

In September and October, the Pluralism Project welcomed researchers and colleagues from Anchorage, Alaska, Boston, Massachusetts, and Roseland, Oregon to our Cambridge office.

We’d also like to congratulate former research associates April Winebrenner-Palo (‘13) and Paul Escobar (’13) on their new posts. April is now the Program Administrative Assistant and Teaching Congregations Coordinator at Luther Seminary (Minneapolis, MN) and Paul is now the Director of Graduate and Professional Student Affairs at the University of California Student Association.

Are you a Pluralism Project alum? Do you want to have your update included in our next newsletter? Send us a note at staff@pluralism.org.

Pluralism Project at the Upcoming Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Religion

The Pluralism Project will be at the AAR this November in Baltimore, Maryland. Stay tuned for more information about our presence there and about Professor Eck’s presentations at the confererence.

We’ll be there. Will you? If so and you’re a Pluralism Project affiliate or alum and presenting at the AAR, please send us a note (staff@pluralism.org) so we can share the information with our networks.

We look forward to seeing you in November!

Multireligious Calendar Now Featured on Pluralism Project Website

The Pluralism Project website now features a multireligious calendar maintained by the Office of Religious and Spiritual Life at Harvard Divinity School.Check  it out! http://www.pluralism.org/calendar/religious

Special thanks to Kerry Maloney, Director of Religious and Spiritual Life, and the team at HDS for allowing us to showcase this wonderful resource.