The Religious Worlds of New York summer institute helps K-12 teachers teach creatively and effectively about the everyday lives of diverse faith communities. The institute brings teachers from throughout the United States to New York City, where they work with leading scholars of religion, meet with diverse religious leaders, visit local houses of worship, explore the religious life of the city, and develop their own curriculum projects. This combination of classroom and community-based education introduces teachers to American religious diversity, helps them distinguish between academic and devotional approaches to the study of religion, and gives them the pedagogic tools they need to teach about contemporary lived religion.
The religious landscape of the United States has shifted dramatically in recent years, with the arrival of new Americans from every corner of the globe and every faith tradition. If American students are to become truly educated, engaged citizens of their multicultural democracy, they need to understand its rich religious diversity. Unfortunately, however, most teachers are unprepared to teach effectively about religious diversity. Most students learn little more than basic facts about major religious traditions — a superficial form of religious literacy that does not prepare them to participate in civic life. The Religious Worlds institute helps teachers move beyond this “dates and doctrines” pedagogy by engaging with everyday religious life. Classroom by classroom, the teachers we work with are transforming the study of religion in public, private, and faith-based schools, and empowering a new generation of Americans to bridge the divides between their religious worlds.
The Religious Worlds Institute is a project of the Interfaith Center of New York, in partnership with Union Theological Seminary, and with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities. The institute has met five times since 2012, and will meet again in July of 2022.
This website will tell you about the summer institute, including a selection from the overwhelmingly positive participant evaluations of our previous institutes. The site also includes resources for teaching on religious diversity, which can enrich your students’ understanding of religion even if you’re not able to join our next institute. Don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions about the institute, or if you’d like to chat about the study of religion in K-12 schools.