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International Scholars Study Religious Pluralism at UCSB Summer Institute
Seventeen scholars from around the world have gathered at UC Santa Barbara this summer to study the religious diversity of the United States and to learn firsthand how people with widely differing beliefs can coexist. The scholars are participating in a program titled “Study of the United States Institutes –– Religious Pluralism and Public Presence.”
Hosted by UCSB’s Department of Religious Studies, the Study of the United States Institutes program is part of a broader U.S. Department of State initiative that seeks to promote a better understanding of the United States abroad by improving the quality of teaching and the curricula used in academic institutions overseas. The program at UCSB is one of several taking place this summer at universities around the country.
During a two-day international conference July 17-18, the scholars will discuss the dynamics of religious pluralism in their home countries. The conference will begin at 9 a.m. in the McCune Conference Room, 6020 Humanities and Social Sciences Building at UCSB. It is free and open to the public.
Participants in the summer program represent universities in 17 countries, including Australia, Brazil, Burma, Burundi, Cameroon, Estonia, Greece, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Jordan, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Uganda, Ukraine, Venezuelaand Vietnam.
The program began June 23 and continues through Aug. 5. It features a lecture series by UCSB faculty on topics such as the history of religion in the United States, the demography and sociology of religion, religion and the media, and issues of church and state. Field trips to local congregations, along with study tours to Los Angeles, Salt Lake City, Atlanta and Washington, D.C., are designed to help scholars understand the breadth of religious diversity in the United States.
“The program seeks to present the United States, its people and its culture in a better –– though not unreal –– way than many people around the world perceive us tobe,” said Wade Clark Roof, the J.F. Rowny Professor of Religion and Society at UCSB and the program’s co-academic director. “The participants are journalists, professors and government workers who are in a position to have some public influence. This is our 10th year doing this, and we are hopeful that what we do makes a difference.”
“It’s unfortunate, but religious intolerance and tensions between religious groups have increased around the world,” said Kathleen Moore, a UCSB professor of religious studies and the program’s co-academic director. “Because of migration and globalization trends, religions are less confined to one particular region than before. This program has widened the discussion about the importance of dialogue.”
The institute is funded by the Study of the United States Branch of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Participants are among more than 40,000 individuals who take part in U.S. Department of State exchange programs each year.
For more than 60 years, ECA has funded and supported programs that seek to promote mutual understanding and respect between the people of the United States and the people of other countries.
Click here fore information about “Religious Pluralism & Public Presence.”
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