Interfaith Initiatives and Resources in Theological Education (2012)

Today, a growing number of graduate theological institutions are seeking to prepare students to effectively lead in an increasingly multi-religious world. Below you will find examples of several intensive models offered at schools across the nation. This list is intended to be illustrative rather than comprehensive and we welcome suggestions for additional opportunities to be included here. Selected readings and information about degree programs specializing in interfaith studies are also highlighted.

It is also worth noting the emergence of institutions such Zaytuna College, Naropa University, and Hindu University of America—schools whose missions and curriculum are shaped by IslamIslam in Arabic literally means “submitting” or “submission.” One who submits or surrenders his or her will to God is called a Muslim. While the whole of God’s creation is described as being inherently Muslim, human beings must choose whether to..., BuddhismBuddhism is a multi-hued tradition of life, thought, and practice that has developed from the teaching and practice of Siddhartha Gautama (6th century BCE) who came to be called the Buddha, the awakened one. The three major streams of the tradition—Ther..., and Hinduism“Hindu” was originally a word given by the Greeks, then the Persians, to the land and peoples beyond the Indus or “Sindhu” River. The term “Hinduism” came into common use only in the 19th century to describe a complex and dynamic pattern of li... respectively. Their presence is evidence of yet another way in which the contours of theological education in the United States are changing to meet the demands of today’s multi-religious reality.

Interfaith Leadership Intensives for Theological School Students, ClergyClergy are the body of ordained men (and in some cases women) who are authorized to perform the priestly, pastoral, or rabbinical duties of the community—as distinct from the laity whom they serve., and Lay Leaders

Abraham’s ChildrenCatholic Theological Union
Chicago, IL/IsraelLiterally “Wrestler with God”, Israel is the name given to the Jewish patriarch Jacob and came to refer to the entire nation, bound in an eternal covenant to God. Historically, Jews have continued to regard themselves as the continuation of the ancien... and the West Bank
Audience: Open to Theological School Students and Non-Students
Duration: 12 Days (January)
Credit/Audit/Continuing Education: Yes. This J-Term course may be taken for credit or as an audit through the Catholic Theological Union.

Led by Jewish, Christian, and Muslim scholars, Abraham’s Children is a graduate theological seminar offered by the Catholic Theological Union in conjunction with TempleA temple is a house of worship, a sacred space housing the deity or central symbol of the tradition. The Temple in Jerusalem was the holy place of the Jewish people until its destruction by the Romans in 70 CE; now the term “temple” is used by th. Ref... Sholom and Elmhurst College. The Seminar includes visits to Jewish, Christian, and Muslim sacred sites in Israel and the West Bank and opportunities to explore theological themes from the perspectives of the three traditions. Religion and politics as well as the landscape of interfaith initiatives are topics of conversation. The experience includes the opportunity to meet with leaders of interfaith organizations working in the region.

Building Abrahamic Partnerships | Hartford Seminary
Hartford, CT
Audience: Jewish, Christian, and Muslim Leaders
Duration of Program: 8 Days (Summer)
Credit/Audit/Continuing Education: Yes. Credit available through Hartford Seminary.

The Building Abrahamic Partnerships program invites leaders within Christian, Jewish, and Muslim communities become acquainted with the three faith traditions and gain pastoral and leadership skills for use in interfaith contexts. BAP is directed by Yehezkel Landau, Hartford Seminary Faculty Associate in Interfaith Studies, who co-instructs the course with a faculty team that includes representation from each of the three Abrahamic traditions. In addition to lectures and site visits to local religious communities, course participants engage in shared text study from each of the three traditions and group exercises aimed at developing sensitivities for honest dialogue and deep listening.

Building an Interfaith Community and Leadership Seminar | The Pluralism Project at Harvard University and Andover Newton Theological School
Greater Boston
Audience: Theological School Students in Greater Boston
Duration of Program: 14 Days (Summer)
Credit/Audit/Continuing Education: Yes. Credit and lay auditor status offered through Andover Newton Theological School.

The Building an Interfaith Community and Leadership Seminar employs the case study method, public narrative, and site visits to local religious communities as tools for promoting relational interfaith leadership and religious literacy. Co-taught by Diana Eck, Director of the Pluralism Project and Professor of Comparative Religion and Indian Studies at Harvard University, and Jennifer Peace, Co-Director of the Center for Interreligious and Communal Leadership Education and Assistant Professor of Interfaith Studies at Andover Newton Theological School, the Seminar is a partnership between the Pluralism Project at Harvard University and Andover Newton Theological School and welcomes religiously diverse students enrolled at institutions within the Boston Theological Institute (BTI).

Emerging Jewish and Muslim Leaders | Rabbinical ReconstructionistThe Reconstructionist movement is a recent development in American Judaism, beginning with Mordecai M. Kaplan (1881 - 1982) who understood Judaism to be a civilization and culture, kept vibrant by constantly changing and adapting to new situations. The ce... College
Wyncote, PA
Audience: Emerging Jewish and Muslim Leaders
Duration of Program: Four-Day Retreat (Summer)
Credit/Audit/Continuing Education: N/A

Rabbinical Reconstructionist College, as a part of its larger commitment to integrating multifaith studies and initiatives into its rabbinical training program, offers a four-day summer retreat for emerging Jewish and Muslim leaders. Program participants include students from diverse rabbinical programs ranging from OrthodoxIn general, orthodox means having a “correct opinion or outlook” and is a term used by people in many religions who claim authority for traditional views and forms of their religion. to Renewal as well as Muslim scholars, clerics, and community leaders. Relationship-building among peers is emphasized and pedagogical approaches included the paired learning approach to sacred texts known as hevrutah and opportunities for participants to perform improvisation comedy.

To learn more about Rabbinical Reconstructionist College’s Multifaith initiatives, visit the RRC’s profile on State of Formation’s DivInnovations.

Religious Diversity Leadership Workshop | Hartford Seminary
Hartford, CT
Audience: Religious Leaders and Activists
Duration of Program: 6 Days (Summer)
Credit/Audit/Continuing Education: Yes. Credit available through Hartford Seminary.

The Religious Diversity Leadership Workshop brings together religious leaders—chaplainsA chaplain is a member of the clergy who serves in a prison, a hospital, a college, or some other institution outside the context of the normal congregational life of a religious community., educators, clergy, and administrators, and activists—for an intensive six-day workshop that has included Jews, Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Jains, SikhsSikhs call their tradition the “Sikh Panth,” meaning the “community (panth) of the disciples of the Guru.” The tradition reveres a lineage of ten Gurus, beginning with Guru Nanak in the 16th century and coming to a clos. with the death of Guru Gob..., PagansThe term “pagan” (from the Latin paganus) originally meant “peasant” or “country dweller.” For many Pagans, the term suggests a life lived close to the land. Today, nature spirituality is an important thread in contemporary Paganism. Some Paga..., and Unitariansa belief in one God that rejects the three persons of the Trinity that has much in common with the belief in the early Christian church about the superiority of God over Jesus and the Anti-Trinitarian writing that emerged during the Protestant Reformation.... Directed by Lucinda Mosher, Hartford Seminary Faculty Associate for Interfaith Studies, the Religious Diversity Leadership Workshop draws upon this diversity through formal presentations, field trips, and small-group activities. Workshop participants live together near campus for the program’s duration; many students use the program to fulfill a requirement within Hartford Seminary’s Graduate Certificate Program, “Chaplaincy in Multifaith Contexts.”

Summer Institute for Mutual Respect | Yale Divinity School
New Haven, CT
Audience: Students (Undergraduate and Graduate) and Young Professionals
Duration: 12-20 Days (Varies by year; Summer)
Credit/Audit/Continuing Education: N/A

The Summer Institute for Mutual Respect is a joint initiative between the Reconciliation Program at the Yale Center for Faith and Culture and Pathways for Mutual Respect. The Summer Institute utilizes role-playing exercises, group discussions, fieldwork, and classroom seminars to cultivate skills necessary for promoting intercultural reconciliation, particularly in the contexts of global ChristianityChristianity is the religious tradition of Christians: those who confesses faith in Jesus Christ, follow the path Christ taught, and gather together in the community of the church. and Islam. The program is designed for emerging leaders from around the world and course instructors hail from Yale University, Hartford Seminary, and the Al Maghrib Institute, among other institutions. The Center for Faith and Culture and Pathways for Mutual Respect are currently expanding this initiative to create the Singapore Institute with a special focus on Asia.

Worldviews Seminar | University of Michigan-Dearborn
Dearborn, MI
Audience: Graduate and Undergraduate Students and Community Leaders
Duration: 6 Days (Summer)
Credit/Audit/Continuing Education: Yes. Undergraduate and Graduate Credit through the University of Michigan-Dearborn; Graduate credit also offered through Ecumenical Theological Seminary; auditing also available.

The Worldviews Seminar at the University of Michigan-Dearborn seeks to educate students and community leaders about multiple religious traditions and the role of religion in America, as well as to foster an appreciation for the religious diversity of Metro-Detroit and build skills necessary to be an informed citizen in a multi-religious nation. The Seminar, founded in the aftermath of September 11, 2001, utilizes lectures, discussions, films, music, and site visits to explore Bahá’í, Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, JainismThe term Jain or Jaina refers to the tradition of the Jinas, the “victorious ones” who have won spiritual liberation, and to those who follow it. The Jain tradition as we know it dates back some 2500 years to the life of the teacher Mahavira, said to ..., JudaismJudaism is the worldview, the way of life, and the religious practice of the Jewish people, living in covenant with God and in response to Torah, the laws and ethics which guide the pattern of Jewish life. Jews today interpret their three thousand year ol..., Native and Afro-Atlantic Traditions, SikhismSikhs call their tradition the “Sikh Panth,” meaning the “community (panth) of the disciples of the Guru.” The tradition reveres a lineage of ten Gurus, beginning with Guru Nanak in the 16th century and coming to a clos. with the death of Guru Gob..., and Zoroastrianism—sometimes others. Professor Claude Jacobs, Director of the Pluralism Project at the University of Michigan-Dearborn, coordinates the Seminar; Bill McNeece, Director of Photography of the Pluralism Project at the University of Michigan-Dearborn has visually documented the seminar since its inception; Lucinda Mosher, Lecturer II at the University of Michigan-Dearborn is the seminar’s founding instructor. The Seminar has had a variety of co-sponsors, including educational institutions, religious groups, and interfaith organizations and is organized by a community-based interfaith planning committee.

Additional Resources

Selected Books, Articles, and Online Resources

Selected Academic Degree and Certificate Programs

Certificate in Interfaith Leadership | Andover Newton Theological School
Newton Centre, MA

Master of Arts, Interreligious Studies | Claremont Lincoln University, Claremont, CA

Master of Theological Studies, Interfaith Relations | ChurchThe term church has come to wide use to refer to the organized and gathered religious community. In the Christian tradition, church refers to the organic, interdependent “body” of Christ’s followers, the community of Christians. Secondarily, church ... Divinity School of the Pacific, Berkeley, CA

Master of Arts, Interreligious Studies | Graduate Theological Union
Berkeley, CA

Master of Divinity | Harvard Divinity School, Cambridge, MA

Master of Arts/Master of Divinity/Certificate, Interfaith Emphasis | LutheranLutheranism is a Protestant tradition following the theology of Martin Luther (1483-1546), the reformer who was excommunicated from the Roman Catholic Church and launched the German reformation. He emphasized the sole authority of the Bible, the priesthoo... School of Theology at Chicago, Chicago, IL

Other Selected Training Opportunities for Clergy and Theological School Students