Dr. Shana Sippy and Dr. Michael McNally are co-directors of the Religious Diversity in Minnesota project. Both Drs. Sippy and McNally teach in the religion department at Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota.
The Religious Diversity in Minnesota project began at Carleton College in the winter of 2010 when students in two Religion Department classes, “Encountering Islam: Dialogue and Difference” and “Modern Hinduism,” began to do field work to study a number of issues facing contemporary Muslim and Hindu communities within Minnesota. As an outgrowth of those projects, the Religion department decided to offer the course, “Global Religions in Minnesota,” in the winter of 2011. Students have been involved not simply in reading historical and theoretical scholarship about religious life in America and among transnational religious communities worldwide, but the are engaging in a broad and impressive array of fieldwork. These explorations provide a picture of the range of religious diversity in the state as they consider communities in rural, suburban, and urban contexts, as well as the religious lives of those who have resided in the state for over a century or under a year.
About the Religious Diversity in Minnesota project, Drs. Sippy and McNally write:
In light of globalization, the American religious landscape has become more visibly colorful and diverse. Lake Wobegon stereotypes aside, Minnesota has always been characterized by diversity but the realities of immigration, dispossession, dislocation, economics, and technology have made religious diversity more pressing in its implications for every arena of civic and cultural life. Somali Muslims are in rural Minnesota. Hindus are in suburban Maple Grove. Hmong shamans are in St. Paul hospitals. Cambodian Temples rise amidst the farmlands of Hampton. Evangelical Churches, where 10,000 gather on any given Sunday morning, are found adjacent to office parks in Brooklyn Park. A garage in the suburbs of Eagan has been transformed into a Indo-Caribbean Hindu Mandir. In a Church in Columbia Heights Brazilian, Korean and Sudanese Priests all work together to serve their different immigrant populations. There is no doubt that distinctive Midwestern contexts are shaping global religious communities, but what is also clear is that these communities are challenging and transforming Minnesota as well.
The research team is in the process of creating an in-depth and dynamic website that can help to enrich public knowledge and literacy about the diverse Religious Worlds of Minnesota.
Selected Links and Publications