Eighteen scholars from 18 countries completed the Dialogue Institute's first-ever Study of the U.S. Institute (SUSI) for Scholars - Religious Pluralism in the United States on August 5th.
The intensive six-week program, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, introduced scholars from Algeria, Albania, Bangladesh, Brazil, Cameroon, China, Czech Republic, Egypt, Finland, Georgia, India, Indonesia, Mongolia, Philippines, Portugal, Russia, Sri Lanka, and Turkey to central elements of U.S. history, society, and institutions through a focus on religious pluralism and democracy in the American context. Representing a variety of academic disciplines, the scholars ranged from an Egyptian Muslim professor studying and serving the minority Copt population to a Finnish Lutheran priest equipping himself to train teachers in religious pluralism; and from a professor following the intellectual heritage of pacifism in India with connections to the U.S. to several European scholars promoting religious pluralism in their respective countries - Albania, Georgia, Portugal, Spain.
"The scholars who participated in the Institute are all sophisticated global citizens dedicated to the highest standards of teaching and writing as seasoned public intellectuals in their own countries," said Director of Education Rebecca Mays. "We at the Dialogue Institute were honored to be able to host and administer this program for the first time, and look forward to cultivating this network of scholars to engage collaborative projects and provide ongoing support for their work."
A month-long residential component in Philadelphia, based at Temple University, included a rigorous academic program, cultural, historical and religious site visits, engagement with a wide variety of American scholars and local religious practitioners, and opportunity for independent research. Scholars also had a chance to interact with and mentor 19 young people from the Middle East who were participating in the DI's SUSI for Student Leaders on Religious Pluralism in the United States; several overlapping activities included a special concert with Atzilut, a high-energy Middle Eastern ensemble featuring Arab and Jewish musicians (pictured above).
Study tours rounded out the Institute, with shorter visits to Lancaster (PA) and New York City, and a two-week trip to Colorado (Denver), Arizona (Flagstaff, Grand Canyon, Sedona, Phoenix) and Washington, D.C. Scholars returned to their home countries with the charge to incorporate what they have learned about the United States and religious pluralism into their classroom curriculums.