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Interfaith Leadership Training Offered at Georgetown

Interfaith Youth Core Photo

Two participants in the Interfaith Leadership Institute, conducted by the Interfaith Youth Core, take part in a session sponsored by the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs last October. A new group from colleges and universities across the nation begin a summer session July 25-28.

July 25, 2011 – Georgetown’s Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs is hosting a leadership institute July 25-28 to train student, faculty and staff leaders to improve cooperation among people of different religious traditions at the university.

The Chicago-based Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC), which brings together students of different faiths to do community service, will conduct the training.

The training is a response to President Obama’s Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge, which invites universities to commit to a year of interfaith and public service programming.

Campus as a Critical Space

“In our increasingly culturally and religiously diverse world, where conflicts over religion and culture are still unfortunately on the rise and religion is still poorly understood, university and college campuses are emerging as critical spaces for the advancement of interreligious and intercultural understanding,” said Melody Fox Ahmed, the Berkley Center’s director of programs and operations. “Georgetown is uniquely positioned as a leader and inspiration in this regard.”

IFYC first conducted two back-to-back sessions in Washington, D.C., in October 2010 that was attended by 200 students – including seven Georgetown undergraduates – from the United States and the United Kingdom – and 100 staff and faculty.

Sharing Resources

The Berkley Center served as host in addressing the participants on campus and at two White House sessions, arranging the logistics, participating in the training sessions, reaching out to students and sharing resources, according to Ahmed.

Five Hoyas will participate in this week’s Interfaith Leadership Institute with the goal of promoting goal of promoting interfaith cooperation on campus.

“Georgetown is blessed to have such diverse and active religious communities on campus and many opportunities to experience one another’s traditions,” said Eitan Paul (SFS’12), who has been involved in interreligious dialogue as a member of the Jewish Student Association. “Nevertheless, I’d still love to see less self-segregation and more dialogue and sharing among students from different backgrounds. I hope this Interfaith Leadership Institute will give me some tools to help facilitate interfaith work on campus.”

Interreligious Efforts at Georgetown

Paul also organizes the Arab-Israeli Living Room Dialogues program, which he said is designed to provide a safe, informal environment for students to share their perspectives and experiences. 

The Berkley Center operates a website, Interfaith Dialogue on Campus, that tracks existing efforts of interreligious dialogue throughout the national higher education network.

The opportunities generated by the initiative aim to fulfill a goal set by the Obama administration to engage in more interfaith service.

“With the support of the Berkley Center, Campus Ministry and the Center for Social Justice, I look forward to working with other campus leaders to meet and exceed the president's challenge,” Paul said.

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