Richey Chosen to Participate In Seminar of Teaching Interfaith Understanding

Jeff Richey

Jeff Richey

Berea College is pleased to announce that Jeffrey L. Richey was selected from a competitive, national pool of nominees to participate in a faculty seminar on the teaching of interfaith understanding. The seminar was offered by the Council of Independent Colleges (CIC) and Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC), with support from the Henry Luce Foundation. Richey is the McGaw Chair in Religion and Professor of Religion & Asian Studies at Berea College.

Twenty-six faculty members from colleges and universities across the United States participated in the five-day Teaching Interfaith Understanding seminar that took place July 31–August 4, 2016, at DePaul University in Chicago, Illinois. The seminar was led by two leading scholars: Eboo Patel, founder and president of IFYC, a Chicago-based organization building the interfaith movement on college campuses; and Laurie Patton, president of Middlebury College and former dean of Trinity College of Arts and Sciences and the Robert F. Durden Professor of Religion at Duke University. The program broadens faculty members’ knowledge and strengthens their teaching of interfaith understanding, with the development of 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 as a democracy,” said CIC President Richard Ekman. “The number of institutions that nominated faculty members to participate in the interfaith understanding seminar is most impressive.”

“I was delighted to be among the scholar-teachers selected to participate in the Seminar, and I am grateful for the support of Dean Chad Berry, who nominated me,” Richey said. “I have been favorably impressed by the work of Seminar convener, Eboo Patel and his Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC) organization. I partnered with him during a study of interfaith issues on our campus several years ago. He also has been a convocation speaker at Berea College.”

“Along with a month spent teaching in Japan through the Kentucky Institute of International Studies (KIIS), this will mark the beginning of my year-long sabbatical leave activities,” Richey continued. “As a specialist in East Asian religious culture who teaches both international students and U.S. millennials, my classroom engages a wide variety of perspectives on spirituality, ranging from solid identification with particular religious traditions (usually Buddhism, Christianity, or Islam) to curious inquiry and outright skepticism or indifference toward religion. Increasingly, I find that my students are both less committed to particular religious traditions and more interested in learning about religious traditions beyond those with which they are most familiar.  My participation in the Seminar will help me to negotiate the West’s and the world’s changing religious landscape in the classroom in ways that enable me to serve Berea’s mission to ‘all peoples of the Earth’ more effectively.”

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Participants in the 2016 Seminar on Teaching Interfaith Understanding

Benjamin Jeppsen, Assistant Professor of Psychology, Augustana University (SD)

Ruth Lucier, Professor of Religion and Philosophy, Bennett College (NC)

Jeffrey Richey, Associate Professor of Religion and Asian Studies, Berea College (KY)

Marion Larson, Professor of English, Bethel University (MN)

Rob Merritt, Professor of English, Bluefield College (VA)

Douglas Howard, Professor of History, Calvin College (MI)

David Stosur, Associate Professor of Religious Studies, Cardinal Stritch University (WI)

Fatih Harpci, Assistant Professor of Religion, Carthage College (WI)

Katherine Cruger, Assistant Professor of Communication, Chatham University (PA)

Sherry Fohr, Associate Professor of Religion and Philosophy, Converse College (SC)

Marinus Iwuchukwu, Associate Professor of Theology, Duquesne University (PA)

Christina Bucher, Professor and Endowed Chair, Religious Studies, Elizabethtown College (PA)

Michael Dutch, Professor of Business Administration, Guilford College (NC)

James Kraft, Associate Professor of Humanities, Huston-Tillotson University (TX)

Karl Kuhn, Professor of Religion, Lakeland College (WI)

Mark Luttio, Associate Professor of Philosophy and Religion, Lynn University (FL)

Sarah Heidt, Assistant Professor of Philosophy and Religious Studies, Marygrove College (MI)

Oswald Nira, Associate Professor of Humanities and Social Science, Our Lady of the Lake University (TX)

Erik Hammerstrom, Assistant Professor of Religion, Pacific Lutheran University (WA)

Gretchen Starr-LeBeau, Associate Professor of Religion, Principia College (IL)

Suzannne Bessenger, Assistant Professor of Religious Studies, Randolph College (VA)

Nicole Johnson, Associate Professor of Religious Studies; and Interdisciplinary and Liberal Studies, University of Mount Union (OH)

William Eakin, Professor of Humanities, University of the Ozarks (AR)

Craig Wansink, Professor of Religious Studies, Virginia Wesleyan College (VA)

Olga Solovieva, Director and Assistant Professor of Religious Studies, Washington & Jefferson College (PA)

Dan Mathewson, Associate Professor of Religion, Wofford College (SC)

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Berea College, the first interracial and coeducational college in the South, focuses on learning, labor and service. The College admits only academically promising students with limited financial resources, primarily from Kentucky and Appalachia, although students come from 40 states and 60 countries. Every Berea student receives a Tuition Promise Scholarship, which means no Berea student pays for tuition.  Berea is one of seven federally recognized Work Colleges, so students work 10 hours or more weekly, earning money for books, housing, and meals.  The College’s motto, “God has made of one blood all peoples of the earth” (Acts 17:26), speaks to its inclusive Christian character.

The Council of Independent Colleges is an association of 765 nonprofit independent colleges and universities and higher education affiliates and organizations that has worked since 1956 to support college and university leadership, advance institutional excellence, and enhance public understanding of private higher education’s contributions to society. CIC is the major national organization that focuses on providing services to leaders of independent colleges and universities as well as conferences, seminars, and other programs that help institutions improve educational quality, administrative and financial performance, and institutional visibility. CIC conducts the largest annual conference of college and university presidents and of chief academic officers. CIC also provides support to state fundraising associations that organize programs and generate contributions for private colleges and universities. The Council is headquartered at One Dupont Circle in Washington, DC.

Interfaith Youth Core’s (IFYC) mission is to make interfaith cooperation a social norm. Since its incorporation in 2002, this Chicago-based nonprofit organization has worked on five continents and with over 200 college and university campuses, trained thousands in the principles of interfaith leadership, and reached millions through the media. IFYC has worked with partners including the Tony Blair Faith Foundation, the White House, and the Office of Her Majesty Queen Rania of Jordan. Eboo Patel is the founder and president of IFYC.

Categories: News, People
Tags: Interfaith, Jeffrey L. Richey, religion, Religion Department

Berea College, the first interracial and coeducational college in the South, focuses on learning, labor and service. The College only admits academically promising students with limited financial resources—primarily from Kentucky and Appalachia—but welcomes students from 41 states and 76 countries. Every Berea student receives a Tuition Promise Scholarship, which means no Berea student pays for tuition. Berea is one of nine federally recognized Work Colleges, so students work 10 hours or more weekly to earn money for books, housing and meals. The College’s motto, “God has made of one blood all peoples of the earth,” speaks to its inclusive Christian character.

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