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Growing Up Interfaith in Ahmedabad

Those who work with children know their immense capacity to live from a place of love. This is especially true when they are placed in an environment of exploration, sharing, and listening.

A Doctoral Program for the 21st Century

Responding to the changing landscapes of the academy and the wider society, the GTU has created an innovative approach to doctoral education that features new opportunities for interdisciplinary scholarship and interreligious conversation.

GTU at the Parliament

The Parliament of the World’s Religions in Salt Lake City provided a marvelous opportunity for us at the Graduate Theological Union. Founded more than 50 years ago by Protestant and Catholic seminaries, the GTU has now become intentionally interreligious, growing far beyond its Christian roots to include the study of Judaism, Buddhism, Islam, Hinduism, Jainism, Sikhism, and Chinese religions. As the nation’s largest and most wide-ranging center for the academic study of religion, we have scholars who run the gamut from the study of ancient texts and cultures to new religious movements of our day.

Religious Freedom Fights Poverty and Counters Extremism

Brian Grim, president of the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation (RFBF), argues that freedom of belief is one of three factors significantly associated with global economic growth, according to a study by researchers at Georgetown University and Brigham Young University.

Exploring Religion, Peace & World Affairs at Georgetown University

The attacks on September 11, 2001. Religious conflict in Northern Ireland. Protests over cartoons of the prophet Muhammad.

The First Public School in the Country to Require a World Religions Course

From the differences between Sunni and Shia Muslims, to the Hindu values invoked by India’s BJP party, to Biblical allusions that saturate American political rhetoric, survey data shows Americans know almost nothing about religion.

A Jewish-Muslim Convergence of Sacred Seasons

In 2015, the period between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur (September 16- 21) almost precisely overlaps with the period of the Hajj (September 20 – 25), which culminates in Eid al-Adha on the day after Yom Kippur. A public program at the GTU on Sunday, September 20 will explore many of the shared themes of this season, including repentance, pilgrimage, and sacrifice.

Finding Art in Plastic Debris

Recently, the Doug Adams Gallery at Pacific School of Religion offered an exhibit of art work by Richard and Judith Selby Lang. As the GTU Center for the Arts, Religion, and Education stated on its web site: “The Langs have been visiting Point Reyes National Seashore for decades, gathering plastic debris as it washes out of the Pacific Ocean. Like archaeologists, the Langs carefully collect and organize these artifacts of our time.” The debris is then arranged by the artists in meaningful arrays and photographed to produce exquisite prints and assemblages. “In this way, the Langs address our throwaway culture, the ubiquity of plastic, and our shared responsibility for environmental stewardship.”

New Encyclopedia of Asian American Religion Celebrated

Graduate Theological Union faculty members and other contributors will celebrate the publication of their encyclopedia Asian American Religious Cultures at a special event this coming October 1, 2015. The editors and authors will share their insights on Asian American spirituality and on the project.

An Education Centered on Wisdom

We should be afraid when people start measuring education by its functional value. I tremble a little when I read about the need for “21st century skills” or the increasing necessity of a college degree for achieving middle class status. I feel anxious because I work with children every day, and they never seem very concerned about whether they are becoming “competitive in the global marketplace.” (If they ever do start showing concern, it may be my signal to find a new career.)

“This Is No Place for a Zero Sum Game”

For more than 100 years Hartford Seminary has been a pioneer in establishing interfaith engagement between Christians and Muslims, developing Abrahamic curricula and a Muslim chaplaincy program. Most recently the school has begun to include the study of Dharmic faith traditions. This interfaith commitment is a sign of the times, no doubt, but also reflects the worldview of the woman who has served as Hartford’s president for the past 15 years, Professor of Social Ethics Heidi Hadsell.

Finding Reliable Interfaith Educational Resources

Scarboro Missions is a Canadian Roman Catholic Mission Society located in Toronto. Its Interfaith Department published a Golden Rule poster 15 years ago, which included versions of the GR from 13 religious traditions. To date, the poster has been translated into more than 20 languages and imitated by numerous groups. The most recent translation is into the ancient language of Amharic, Ethiopia’s official language, spoken by 17.5 million. It was translated by Mussie Hailu, who is circulating 200,000 copies of the poster. Mussie, a leading interfaith activist in Africa, has circulated half a million English-version Golden Rule posters throughout the continent. Around the world, Golden Rule posters can be found posted in school rooms, community centers, sanctuaries, internet sites, and homes around the world – a clear candidate for the most useful interfaith resource ever published.

Storytelling – It’s Not Just for Grown-Ups

Everyone loves a story. A child, recently-bathed with teeth brushed and damp hair drying into awkward tufts on a bedtime pillow … a professional, dressed in business casual at a boring conference presentation in a midtown hotel … an aging parent, lying in a nursing home bed no longer able to walk easily or remember the date. Age, disposition, and the surrounding context are irrelevant. Human brains perk up as soon as a narrative begins. Stories fascinate and engage, transcending time and place in way few other mediums can. Maybe this is why myths and legends hold such a special place in all faith traditions and why story-sharing has become an important component of multifaith exploration.

Grassroots Interfaith Education Goes Global

The boarding school for missionary children in northern India that I attended 50 years ago was about seven miles across mountain roads from a new school for refugee Tibetans streaming out of their war-torn homeland. The Indian government provided the buildings, CARE packages helped clothe the kids, and food was found. But they had no teachers. So, as young Tibetan Buddhists who had lost their parents, they used the tools at their disposal to start their education.

A New Model for Teaching Children Religious Tolerance

Every morning at the Kaleidoscoop School (“kaleidoscope” in English) in the small town of Zeewolde, The Netherlands, children gather to light a candle and pray, or not, for themselves, those close to them, and the world. There is no compulsion or exclusion when it comes to prayer or belief in this interconfessional school, with roughly a quarter Protestant, a quarter Catholic, and half atheist, agnostic, or non-denominational students. While the school teaches children ages 4 through 12 the basic subjects as its first priority, it is within an open and non-dogmatic environment.

The Top Five Reasons to Study Religion

It’s not easy being chair of a religion department. August is an especially cruel month as we close out one academic year and start up a new one, and begin again to struggle with an increasingly vital challenge: recruiting and keeping more majors. I’ve been teaching at Emory University for over 20 years, and every August I begin to obsess about a question (mostly as I’m frantically trying to get my syllabus together for the new term) that’s at the center of my intellectual passion and personal livelihood: how do you convince people to study religion?

Elizabethtown Initiating a Major in Interfaith Leadership

Inspired by a national call from Interfaith Youth Core founder Eboo Patel, Elizabethtown College is the first in the United States to offer a major in interfaith leadership studies (ILS). The major, confirmed by Chicago-based Interfaith Youth Core to be the first, is heavily supported by Patel, who has been a member of President Barack Obama’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based Neighborhood Partnerships.

From Mono-religious to Multi-religious in England’s Schools

For centuries, education in England was provided by the Church of England and therefore included instruction in the Christian faith. The rapid growth of the urban population in the nineteenth century caused by the Industrial Revolution meant there were not enough schools. By 1850 only a third of the country’s children were receiving regular education. The Church and Voluntary societies built more schools, but a Board of Education was set up to provide additional schools from public funds. By 1882 school attendance became compulsory for children between the ages of five and ten. All schools had daily prayers and provided instruction in the Christian faith, although in state schools no ‘denominational teaching’ was allowed. A conscience clause permitted Jewish and other parents to remove children from such religious conditioning. Public or fee-paying schools also had a Christian ethos with daily chapel, divinity lessons, and often a clergyman as headmaster.

Sikh Studies Come to the GTU

The Graduate Theological Union (GTU) and the Sikh Foundation International have entered into an agreement to sponsor the teaching of Sikh Studies at the GTU beginning in the fall semester 2015.

Finding Meaning in the Mess

Environmental degradation, air pollution, animal extinction … how can we be good caretakers of our planet without becoming overwhelmed by the magnitude of these issues? How can scholars and religious communities respond to the call issued by 2014 president of the American Academy of Religion and GTU alum, Dr. Laurie Zoloth, to help fight climate change?