The Pluralism Project: Research and Opportunities
Harvard Divinity School
Date: March 24, 2003
In the last thirty years, the American religious landscape has changed dramatically as the result of increased immigration from non-European countries. This in turn has introduced a far more diverse range of religious worldviews into American culture, including those from Buddhist, Hindu, and Islamic traditions to name a few. On March 26th, Grove Harris, the project director of the Pluralism Project at Harvard Divinity School came to the Boisi Center. She discussed the ongoing goal of this research enterprise: to map and document part of this changing landscape and make these resources available to the larger scholarly community via publications and their website.
Developed by Diana L. Eck, Professor of Comparative Religion and Indian studies at Harvard Divinity School, the Pluralism Project has been collecting information on minority, non-Christian religious groups in the US for over a decade. It has focused particularly on the newer immigrant religious communities, and has attempted to locate and map Islamic centers and mosques, Hindu and Buddhist temples, and meditation centers in virtually every major American city. Eck believes that the way in which Americans of all faiths begin to engage with one another in shaping a positive pluralism is one of the most important questions American society faces in the years ahead.
At this luncheon, which was particularly aimed at undergraduate and graduate students interested in taking their study of religion to the field, the Boisi Center invited Ms. Harris to speak about the research opportunities available to students through the Pluralism Project. The Project relies heavily upon the work of research associates who go into the field and contribute ethnographic reports of particular religious communities across the country. These reports may include a mapping of religious centers, as well as in-depth analyses of varieties of religious communities, their practices, and their beliefs. Those students who were unable to attend the lunch but are interested in gathering field experience in this area should consult the Pluralism Project’s website at www.pluralism.org