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Center for Engagement and Community Development

Coalition For A Diverse Community

Given the concerns of religious persecution, fear among Americans about terrorism on U.S. soil, and a tumultuous presidential election year, a call for religious inclusivity, civility and interreligious understanding is more relevant than ever.

Soo-Hye Han and Soumia Bardhan, both assistant professors in the communication studies department, have chosen this significant moment to host a series of community dialogues. This was made possible with funding from the Center for Engagement and Community Development  (CECD) engagement incentive grant. Their endeavor is titled “E Pluribus Unum: Embracing and Enacting ‘Unity in Diversity’ through Interbelief Dialogue.” Han and Bardhan said that ‘E Pluribus Unum’ (Out of Many, One) “symbolizes the American value of unity in a diverse society.”

Studies have shown that understanding religious beliefs other than one’s own is a key element of tolerance, since faith traditions often define a significant part of a person’s identity. And more effort is needed to organize and facilitate interbelief dialogueat K-State. “It is our desire to create a more open and thriving multicultural community that has greater appreciation for its diversity and commonalities on campus and in greater Manhattan through interbelief dialogue,” said Han and Bardhan.

Beginning in Spring 2017, professors Han and Bardhan will train students in their courses to facilitate dialogues and these efforts will culminate in a series of interbelief dialogues in late spring. Another goal of this endeavor is to produce research on the effectiveness and dynamics of interbelief dialogue to create an interculturally strong community.

This project is implemented in partnership with the Ecumenical Campus Ministry at K-State (ECM), the Islamic Center of Manhattan, the Manhattan Jewish Community, and the K-State Presidential Committee on Religion.

Considering “our increasingly diverse population and K-State’s adherence to the Principles of Community, as well as to combat the current discursive environment that attempts to divide us based on different belief systems,” said Han and Bardhan, “(We) believe that it is timely and crucial to bring together and engage our students and the greater Manhattan community in productive interbelief dialogue.”

The first two interbelief community dialogues are scheduled for April 19 and April 23, 2017.

To view the project proposal, visit: kstate.edu/cecd/funding/EngagementIncentiveGrantsAwardHonorRoll.html