Every summer, Interfaith America and the Council of Independent Colleges (CIC) host a week long seminar on Teaching Interfaith Understanding. Taught by IA founder and President, Eboo Patel and Middlebury President, Laurie Patton, this seminar convenes 25 faculty from around the country to examine the substantial theoretical questions inherent in teaching interfaith understanding and explore the practical work of translating these ideas into courses.
Though the June 2020 seminar was postponed due to Covid-19, Laurie and Eboo decided to host a series of webinars on Interfaith Studies as a way to support faculty as they negotiate rapid changes in higher education and shifting campus environments. As we prepared for the first webinar, the tragic death of George Floyd at the hands of the police and the growing movement for racial justice in America compelled us to focus the conversation on the intersection of interfaith engagement and racial equity.
Offering three different reflections, the webinar begins with a presentation by Eboo on the role of interfaith cooperation in historical movements for racial justice. IA manager and scholar of religion and African American studies, Calvin Taylor, next discusses interfaith perspectives on dismantling white supremacy. To conclude, Laurie walks through a case study from her newest book Who Owns Religion that illustrates the complex way that religious and racial identity play out in various publics.