KU Multi-Faith Dialogue Online
Welcome to the KU Multi-Faith Dialogue (online version)! This program was originally planned as a day-long in-person event as part of KU's International Awareness Week during the first week of April. We're glad you're joining us in this new format.
So what is the KU Multi-Faith Dialogue?
This program is a series of online panels organized by KU faculty and students from different disciplines who believe conversations about religion, faith, spirituality, and worldviews are essential to the intellectual life of the university and to building understanding among the diverse communities represented at KU.
Participants in the panel discussions include faculty members and students from multiple disciplines, such as business, English, law, philosophy, and public administration, as well as representatives of several government agencies whose work engages with faith-based communities and organizations. The dialogue also includes representatives of different faith-based organizations, including the Hindu Temple of Kansas City, the Lawrence Jewish Community Congregation, the Sikh Gurudwara of Johnson County, the Kansas Zen Center, and different Christian congregations in Lawrence. Several other organizations, including the Lawrence Interfaith Alliance and the St. Lawrence Catholic Center, have also endorsed the forum.
Why a Multi-Faith Dialogue?
As the population of the U.S. becomes more diverse and different beliefs and worldviews continue to shape public policies, business practices, and social life, universities need to prepare students for a future that is increasingly pluralistic. However, differences without dialogue may also breed misunderstanding, isolation, polarization, and conflict. Particularly in times of crisis, dialogue across difference matters.
The goals of the KU Multi-Faith Dialogue are:
- To foster greater understanding and mutual respect for different religious beliefs and worldviews among KU faculty and students;
- To engage community members and faith-based organizations in helping KU faculty members and students develop a greater sense of global citizenship and cultural sensitivity;
- To demonstrate respect for different belief systems and to model healthy and respectful dialogue among those with different beliefs and worldviews.
The online forum features the following remarks and online panel discussions:
- Opening Remarks I: Dr. Jennifer Ng, KU Interim Vice Provost for Diversity and Equity. Dr. Ng shares how this forum contributes to the university’s goal of promoting greater diversity on campus;
- Opening Remarks II: Kevin Smith, Director of the Center of Faith and Opportunity Initiatives of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security;
- Opening Remarks III: Dr. Alfred Ho, the forum coordinator and Professor in public administration. Dr. Ho explains the purpose and goals of this forum
- Panel 1: Combatting Religious Discrimination, Working with Different Faith Communities - A panel on the roles of faith-based organizations in communities and rising concerns about hate crimes against different ethnic and religious groups and places of worship;
- Panel 2A: Seeking to Build a “Good” Society - Multi-Faith Perspectives on “Goodness” - A multi-faith dialogue on the meaning of goodness and its implications for society, public policy, and business practice;
- Panel 2B: Seeking to Build a “Good” Society - Panel Discussion on Public Policy and Societal Implications and Responses to Suffering: A panel discussion from different faith perspectives on suffering and the coronavirus pandemic;
- Panel 3: “Do’s” and “Don’ts” in Different Cultural Settings - A panel discussion with KU students on cultural differences and ways to enhance cultural sensitivity;
- Panel 4A: Faith and Inclusion on Campus - The National Climate on Faith & Spirituality and Best Practices on Interfaith Dialogue - A presentation on the national trend and lessons from different campuses.
- Panel 4B: Recommended Practices to Enhance Inclusiveness and Cultural Sensitivity - A panel on university policies and practices that can foster greater diversity, cultural sensitivity, and inclusiveness.
Besides viewing the videos of these panels, we encourage participants to take an online survey and provide feedback on ways that public universities may embrace greater diversity and inclusiveness across different faith perspectives, worldviews, and cultural backgrounds.
The forum has received in-kind and/or financial support from the KU Office of Diversity and Equity, the KU Office of International Affairs, and the KU School of Law. We are also grateful for the financial support of the Interfaith Youth Core, a national nonprofit organization that encourages interfaith dialogue on campuses nationally.
Why Promote Multi-Faith Dialogue at the University?
Public policies, business strategies, and socioeconomic development are often influenced by personal values and beliefs. Many faith-based organizations also play a key role in helping neighborhood development, offering emergency relief, and building community resilience. Faith-based perspectives clearly influence American politics, social life, and the media.
Likewise, in higher education, researchers and students often hold personal perspectives and religious beliefs that influence their work. However, faith-based perspectives are often disregarded and treated as subjective or irrelevant in the academy, even though normative values and diversity itself are recognized as important foundations for the humanities, social sciences, and research in law and business, and even though secularism itself has normative consequences.
Furthermore, according to the Pew Research Center, the majority of people in the world believe in a faith system of some kind. Only about 13% to 16% of the world’s adult population are atheists, agnostics or non-religious.
If universities want to prepare students to be future leaders, they must help students improve their literacy with regard to different faith perspectives and worldviews, develop greater cultural sensitivity, and understand how these beliefs and worldviews influence societies, markets, politics, and public policies.
These remarks emphasize the importance of promoting diversity and inclusion on campus and recognizing the role of religion, spirituality, and faith-based organizations in our increasingly diverse communities.
These remarks emphasize the importance of faith-based organizations in the U.S. and introduces the faith and opportunity initiatives of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
These remarks explain the motivation and design of the online KU Multi-Faith Dialogue.
- Kevin Smith, Director of the Department of Homeland Security Center for Faith and Opportunity Initiatives
- Chris Van Alstyne, Regional Director of Community Relations Service, US Department of Justice
- Harpreet Mokha, National Program Director of the Muslim, Arab, Sikh, South-Asian, & Hindu communities programs of the Community Relations Service, US Department of Justice
- Jacob Fowles, Associate Director, KU School of Public Affairs & Administration
This panel discusses the important roles of faith-based organizations in public policies and communities. It also discusses rising concerns about hate crimes against different ethnic and religious groups and places of worships, and what universities and communities should do to better combat these problems and build a more inclusive society.
- Bander Almohammadi, Doctoral student, KU School of Law (Muslim)
- Debabrata Bhaduri, Member of the Hindu Temple of Kansas City (Hinduism)
- Samuel Hayim Brody, Member of the Lawrence Jewish Community Congregation (Judaism)
- Charanjit Hundal, Member of the Sikh Community in Johnson County (Sikhism)
- Judy Roitman, Professor Emeritus, KU Department of Mathematics and Zen Master of the Kansas Zen Center (Zen Buddhism)
- Jane Zhao, Associate Professor, KU School of Business and Member of the Lawrence Chinese Evangelical Church (Christianity)
- Virginia Harper-Ho, Professor & Associate Dean, School of Law
This video consists of presentations of different faith perspectives of the meaning of “goodness” and its implications for society, law, and business practice.
This multi-faith dialogue focuses on the implications of goodness on public policy and social implications. It also discusses different faith perspectives on suffering and on the coronavirus pandemic faced by many communities today.
- Sandya Maulana, ABD, KU Department of English and a Fulbright scholar from Indonesia
- Rikki Li, KU Biology Undergraduate Major
- Alfred Ho, Professor, School of Public Affairs & Administration
- Alison Watkins, Communications Director, KU International Programs
This panel uses different personal experiences to discuss cultural differences between the U.S. and other countries and how we may increase cultural sensitivity in our personal and university practices.
Panel 4: Faith and Inclusion on Campus
- Brian Anderson, Program Officer, Inter-Faith Youth Core
- Darryck Dean, Community Outreach Services, U.S. Department of Justice
- Alejandro Tamez, Graduate Student, Department of Philosophy
- Alfred Ho, Professor of Public Affairs & Administration [facilitator]
This is a presentation by Brian Anderson on the climate of faith and spirituality on college campuses nationally, the challenges of having interfaith dialogue on campus, and lessons from different universities.
This is a panel discussion on what public universities should do to recognize religious diversity in our society, encourage greater inclusion of people with different faiths and worldviews, and foster more collaboration among communities of faith.
Besides viewing the videos of different panels, we encourage participants to take the following online survey and to provide feedback on ways in which public universities may embrace greater diversity and inclusiveness, including those with different faith perspectives, worldviews, and cultural backgrounds.
Based on the feedback received, the KU Multi-Faith Dialogue will organize another panel discussion in late April to respond to the questions and suggestions received. More details will be provided later.