Alma College Associate Professor Kate Blanchard is among 25 faculty from across the nation selected by the Council of Independent Colleges (CIC) and Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC) to participate in a national seminar on the teaching of interfaith understanding.
The weeklong seminar will take place Aug. 3-7 at DePaul University in Chicago.
“I view interfaith understanding as perhaps the most important contribution a professor of religious studies can make,” says Blanchard. “Most students are already quite tolerant of others’ religions, but tolerance is not the same as genuine understanding. I want to learn more ways to help students move beyond lazy tolerance toward thoughtful engagement.
“Being informed about some of the diverse traditions and practices that motivate human individuals and groups is, I think, a large component of what Alma College means by ‘preparing graduates who think critically, serve generously, lead purposefully, and live responsibly as stewards of the world they bequeath to future generations,’” says Blanchard.
The seminar will be led by two leading scholars: Eboo Patel, founder and president of IFYC, a Chicago-based organization building the interfaith movement on college campuses, and Laurie Patton, dean of Trinity College of Arts and Sciences and the Robert F. Durden Professor of Religion at Duke University.
“Strengthening the teaching of interfaith understanding at colleges and universities is a high priority at a time when college enrollment is becoming more diverse—by religion, as well as socioeconomic factors—just as American society is becoming more diverse,” says CIC President Richard Ekman. “Strengthening participation in American life with greater understanding of the distinctive contributions of different faiths is key to America’s future success.”