How does our society deal with religious, ethical, and cultural diversity, and what challenges do we face as people of different faith communities encounter one another in cities and public institutions, schools and businesses, neighborhoods and families?
Who do we mean when we say “we?” How does a society deal with religious, ethical, and cultural diversity? What challenges do we face as people of different communities encounter one another in cities and public institutions, schools and businesses, neighborhoods and families? These are urgent questions in many nations today, but in this course we focus on the United States. We explore, discuss, and analyze the changing multi-cultural and multi-religious landscape of America with an eye to the growing Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, and Sikh communities in the most recent period of post-1965 immigration. In what contexts do these and other minority communities encounter America’s secularism, its commitment to religious freedom, and its long-dominant Christian and Jewish communities? Our approach will be through the study and in-class discussion of case-studies enabling you to enter into some of the controversies and dilemmas that confront schools, universities, town councils, zoning boards, and places of work. You will be challenged to take the perspective of mayors and concerned citizens, teachers and executives, religious and civic leaders –all confronting the choices and changes of a dynamic society. You will inevitably consider your own perspective on the issues we engage. You will gain a deeper understanding of the religious complexity of America and a new sense of the challenges confronting “we the people.”