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K-State Today

April 13, 2017

Interbelief dialogues April 19 and April 23 at K-State

Submitted by Nina Marino

Soo-Hye Han and Soumia Bardhan, both assistant professors of communication studies, will host a series of community interbelief dialogues through their project, "E Pluribus Unum (Out of Many, One): Embracing and Enacting 'Unity in Diversity' through Interbelief Dialogue," symbolizing the American value of unity in a diverse society.

Two interbelief dialogues are scheduled for April 19 and April 23:

• The first event will begin at 5 p.m. April 19 in Town Hall in the Leadership Studies Building. A panel presentation will be 5-5:45 p.m., and small-group dialogue will follow at 6-7:30 p.m. in rooms 123, 126 and 127 at the Leadership Studies Building.

• The second event will begin at 4 p.m. April 23, in 106 Kedzie Hall. A panel presentation will be 4-4:45 p.m., and small-group dialogue will follow from 5-6:30 p.m. in rooms 128, 236 and 311 of Nichols Hall. 

Refreshments will be served.

Small-group dialogues will include members of the university as well as the larger Manhattan community. Students enrolled in courses taught by Han and Bardhan, and trained by Donna Schenck-Hamlin, project coordinator at K-State's Center for Engagement and Community Development, will serve as dialogue facilitators.

The purpose of the dialogues is to increase the understanding of and respect for different belief systems, enhance appreciation of different values, minimize prejudice and find common ground. Although similar to interfaith dialogue in its philosophy and process, interbelief dialogue includes individuals with various religious beliefs as well as those who do not conform to any mainstream religious tradition.

Studies have shown that understanding beliefs other than one's own is a key element of tolerance, since faith traditions or their absence, often define a significant part of a person's identity. More effort is needed to organize and facilitate interbelief dialogue at 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," Han and Bardhan said.

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, Han and Bardhan believe it is timely and crucial to bring together and engage our students and the greater Manhattan community in productive interbelief dialogue.

This project has been made possible with funding from the Center for Engagement and Community Development's engagement incentive grant and a partnership with the Ecumenical Campus Ministry at K-State, the Islamic Center of Manhattan, the Manhattan Jewish Congregation and the K-State Presidential Committee on Religion.

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