In the spring of 2021, Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC) and Heterodox Academy (HxA) invited over 100 scholars and thought leaders across the North American academy to reflect on the following question: How might we effectively and meaningfully center religious diversity in higher education — academically, programmatically, and operationally?
We received scores of responses that demonstrated the richness and breadth of ideation on this subject. In keeping with our organizations’ shared belief that robust public engagement among diverse viewpoints should undergird all aspects of the academy, we now are pleased to engage a wider audience in this important conversation through a series of public discussions, or what we’re calling “charrettes.”
What’s a Charrette? (Hint: It’s not just another webinar)
Traditionally, a “charrette” is a collaborative session in which a group convenes to design a solution to a complex problem. In our case, the complex problem we face is the one articulated in the prompt above: how might we effectively and meaningfully center religious diversity in higher education?
We thus envision a series of charrettes that convene faculty, administrators, students, and public intellectuals – each with different backgrounds, disciplines, and perspectives – to collaborate toward the goal of generating actionable best practices for uplifting diverse viewpoints and identities across campus life. Each charrette will focus on one approach to this complex problem and will be facilitated by a set of scholars with particular insight into the topic. However, these are not panels nor presentations. Rather, our goal is that all of the charrettes will be dynamic and interactive. Facilitators will prompt conversation, but participants should come ready to engage and discuss.
It is our hope that this series of charrettes will feel like everything that we love about working within the academy: the open sharing of ideas for the sake of bettering our society. If the imagery of intellectuals sitting in a cafe comes to mind, that would be accurate – only the cafe is Zoom.
We hope that you will join us for as many of the charrettes as you are able and that your ideas will contribute to the design of a more religiously diverse and pluralistic future for higher education.
Charrette One: Religious Identity as a Bridge Across Polarized America
February 7th, 2022, 4 pm ET — Asma T. Uddin (Aspen Institute) and George Yancey, PhD, (Baylor University)
In this opening charrette, George Yancey (Baylor University) and Asma Uddin (Aspen Institute) will explore how religious identity can sometimes transcend, and thus serve as a bridge across, these partisan divides. Drawing from their experience, they will examine 1) how the frame of “religious liberty” can unite conservative Christians and religious minorities; and 2) how shared religious commitments can provide a platform for interracial engagement and reconciliation.