Valparaiso University professor Slavica Jakelic was among 25 educators chosen to participate in a national session to broaden students’ understanding of interfaith issues.

The Council of Independent Colleges (CIC) and Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC), with support from the Henry Luce Foundation, organized the five-day “Teaching Interfaith Understanding” seminar in June at Boston College in Chestnut Hill, Mass. The program aims to strengthen and broaden participants’ knowledge and teaching of interfaith understanding and included ideas for new courses and resources.

“Strengthening the teaching of interfaith understanding at colleges and universities is a high priority at a time when college enrollment — and American society — is becoming more diverse. Strengthening participation in American life with greater understanding of the distinctive contributions of different faiths is a key to America’s future success,” said CIC President Richard Ekman. “The number of institutions that nominated faculty members to participate in the interfaith understanding seminar is most impressive.”

Jakelic, assistant professor of humanities and social thought at the University’s Christ College — The Honors College, was the lone representative from Indiana. Educators, drawn from a national pool of applicants, came from 15 different states.

“Valparaiso University seeks to create a robust environment for interfaith study and encounter by creating opportunity for deepening literacy and dialogue,” said Brian Johnson, Valpo’s executive director of campus ministries. “Professor Jakelic’s inclusion in this selective seminar will help to enhance curricular efforts as we expand our offerings.”

Jakelic was honored to attend and represent the University.

“It was an honor to represent Valpo at this seminar because we are a University that does not think of religious pluralism as a reality with which we need to reconcile but as a value that can enrich everyone’s life,” she said. “For so many members of Valpo, religious pluralism is not something that threatens one’s own ethical and religious commitments but something that can deepen these commitments.

The seminar was excellent because it did not concern itself with the ready-made answers about what we are to do in the classroom and what methods to use. Rather, the organizers and participants engaged deeper questions — about the meaning of pluralism today, the substance of religious literacy for the 21st century college students, and about the role that classroom discussions about religious pluralism and dialogue can have in the development of civic culture in the American society.

Learn more about the seminar at www.cic.edu/TeachingInterfaith.

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