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Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life

2013-2014 Symposium on Religious Diversity and the Common Good

boisi center for religion and american public life

amish girls walking together

The Boisi Center is pleased to announce its fourth annual Symposium on Religion and Politics, which provides an opportunity for informal reflection and conversation among undergraduate and graduate students on the relationship between religion and politics in the United States. This year’s symposium will consider questions of religious diversity and the common good, a theme also addressed at the November 13 sesquicentennial conference organized by the Boisi Center.

THE 2013-2014 STUDENT

Religious Diversity
and the Common Good

Religious diversity is frequently cited as evidence of a free and flourishing society, but it can be a source of conflict and misunderstanding as much as peace and respect. In what ways does religious diversity contribute to or detract from the common good? Can a religious community be a part of the larger society while maintaining its distinct faith and practices? Or must religious communities choose between assimilation (in “the melting pot”) and separation?

In this non-credit reading and discussion group, we will explore many issues of religious diversity in the American context. Among the topics we will consider:

  • historic and contemporary religious demographics;
  • the ideas and principles that undergird our freedom of religious belief and exercise, and the limits that have been imposed;
  • assimilation and reactions against assimilation among minority groups; ecumenism and interfaith efforts;
  • the connection between religious diversity and the common good; and
  • how these ideas translate to student life at Boston College.

In seven sessions over the course of the academic year (three in the fall and four in the spring), the group will read a mixture of primary texts, essays, and articles. Reading packets will not be long; there should be about one- to two-hours’ worth of reading per session. No expertise or previous coursework in the subject is expected or required. Discussion will be facilitated by political science Ph.D. candidate Yael Levin Hungerford, and led each week by symposium participants. Breakfast or lunch will be provided by the Boisi Center at each session, depending on the meeting time. 

To apply please submit (to a brief statement that describes your course of study, relevant experience, and your interest in the symposium and this year's themes. Applications are due October 1, 2013.

Reading Packets:

Introduction: Religious Diversity in America
On the Free Exercise of Religion
The Free Exercise of Religion (continued)
Religious Diversity: A Comparative Theological Perspective
The Common Good