Interfaith Initiatives and Resources in Theological Education (2012)

Today, a growing number of graduate theological institutions are seeking to prepare students to effectively lead in an increasingly multi-religious world. Below you will find examples of several intensive models offered at schools across the nation. This list is intended to be illustrative rather than comprehensive and we welcome suggestions for additional opportunities to be included here. Selected readings and information about degree programs specializing in interfaith studies are also highlighted.

It is also worth noting the emergence of institutions such Zaytuna College, Naropa University, and Hindu University of America—schools whose missions and curriculum are shaped by Islam, Buddhism, and Hinduism respectively. Their presence is evidence of yet another way in which the contours of theological education in the United States are changing to meet the demands of today’s multi-religious reality.

Interfaith Leadership Intensives for Theological School Students, Clergy, and Lay Leaders


Abraham’s Children | Catholic Theological Union

Location: Chicago, IL/Israel and the West Bank. Audience: Open to Theological School Students and Non-Students. Duration: 12 Days (January). Credit/Audit/Continuing Education: Yes. This J-Term course may be taken for credit or as an audit through the Catholic Theological Union.

Led by Jewish, Christian, and Muslim scholars, Abraham’s Children is a graduate theological seminar offered by the Catholic Theological Union in conjunction with Temple Sholom and Elmhurst College. The Seminar includes visits to Jewish, Christian, and Muslim sacred sites in Israel and the West Bank and opportunities to explore theological themes from the perspectives of the three traditions. Religion and politics as well as the landscape of interfaith initiatives are topics of conversation. The experience includes the opportunity to meet with leaders of interfaith organizations working in the region.

Building Abrahamic Partnerships | Hartford Seminary

Location: Hartford, CT Audience: Jewish, Christian, and Muslim Leaders. Duration of Program: 8 Days (Summer). Credit/Audit/Continuing Education: Yes. Credit available through Hartford Seminary.

The Building Abrahamic Partnerships program invites leaders within Christian, Jewish, and Muslim communities become acquainted with the three faith traditions and gain pastoral and leadership skills for use in interfaith contexts. BAP is directed by Yehezkel Landau, Hartford Seminary Faculty Associate in Interfaith Studies, who co-instructs the course with a faculty team that includes representation from each of the three Abrahamic traditions. In addition to lectures and site visits to local religious communities, course participants engage in shared text study from each of the three traditions and group exercises aimed at developing sensitivities for honest dialogue and deep listening.

Building an Interfaith Community and Leadership Seminar | The Pluralism Project at Harvard University and Andover Newton Theological School

Location: Greater Boston Audience: Theological School Students in Greater Boston Duration of Program: 14 Days (Summer). Credit/Audit/Continuing Education: Yes. Credit and lay auditor status offered through Andover Newton Theological School.

The Building an Interfaith Community and Leadership Seminar employs the case study method, public narrative, and site visits to local religious communities as tools for promoting relational interfaith leadership and religious literacy. Co-taught by Diana Eck, Director of the Pluralism Project and Professor of Comparative Religion and Indian Studies at Harvard University, and Jennifer Peace, Co-Director of the Center for Interreligious and Communal Leadership Education and Assistant Professor of Interfaith Studies at Andover Newton Theological School, the Seminar is a partnership between the Pluralism Project at Harvard University and Andover Newton Theological School and welcomes religiously diverse students enrolled at institutions within the Boston Theological Institute (BTI).

Emerging Jewish and Muslim Leaders | Rabbinical Reconstructionist College

Location: Wyncote, PA Audience: Emerging Jewish and Muslim Leaders. Duration of Program: Four-Day Retreat (Summer). Credit/Audit/Continuing Education: N/A

Rabbinical Reconstructionist College, as a part of its larger commitment to integrating multifaith studies and initiatives into its rabbinical training program, offers a four-day summer retreat for emerging Jewish and Muslim leaders. Program participants include students from diverse rabbinical programs ranging from Orthodox to Renewal as well as Muslim scholars, clerics, and community leaders. Relationship-building among peers is emphasized and pedagogical approaches included the paired learning approach to sacred texts known as hevrutah and opportunities for participants to perform improvisation comedy. To learn more about Rabbinical Reconstructionist College’s Multifaith initiatives, visit the RRC’s profile on State of Formation’s DivInnovations.

Religious Diversity Leadership Workshop | Hartford Seminary

Location: Hartford, CT Audience: Religious Leaders and Activists. Duration of Program: 6 Days (Summer). Credit/Audit/Continuing Education: Yes. Credit available through Hartford Seminary.

The Religious Diversity Leadership Workshop brings together religious leaders—chaplains, educators, clergy, and administrators, and activists—for an intensive six-day workshop that has included Jews, Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Jains, Sikhs, Pagans, and Unitarians. Directed by Lucinda Mosher, Hartford Seminary Faculty Associate for Interfaith Studies, the Religious Diversity Leadership Workshop draws upon this diversity through formal presentations, field trips, and small-group activities. Workshop participants live together near campus for the program’s duration; many students use the program to fulfill a requirement within Hartford Seminary’s Graduate Certificate Program, “Chaplaincy in Multifaith Contexts.”

Summer Institute for Mutual Respect | Yale Divinity School

Location: New Haven, CT. Audience: Students (Undergraduate and Graduate) and Young Professionals Duration: 12-20 Days (Varies by year; Summer). Credit/Audit/Continuing Education: N/A

The Summer Institute for Mutual Respect is a joint initiative between the Reconciliation Program at the Yale Center for Faith and Culture and Pathways for Mutual Respect. The Summer Institute utilizes role-playing exercises, group discussions, fieldwork, and classroom seminars to cultivate skills necessary for promoting intercultural reconciliation, particularly in the contexts of global Christianity and Islam. The program is designed for emerging leaders from around the world and course instructors hail from Yale University, Hartford Seminary, and the Al Maghrib Institute, among other institutions. The Center for Faith and Culture and Pathways for Mutual Respect are currently expanding this initiative to create the Singapore Institute with a special focus on Asia.

Worldviews Seminar | University of Michigan-Dearborn

Location: Dearborn, MI Audience: Graduate and Undergraduate Students and Community Leaders Duration: 6 Days (Summer). Credit/Audit/Continuing Education: Yes. Undergraduate and Graduate Credit through the University of Michigan-Dearborn; Graduate credit also offered through Ecumenical Theological Seminary; auditing also available.

The Worldviews Seminar at the University of Michigan-Dearborn seeks to educate students and community leaders about multiple religious traditions and the role of religion in America, as well as to foster an appreciation for the religious diversity of Metro-Detroit and build skills necessary to be an informed citizen in a multi-religious nation. The Seminar, founded in the aftermath of September 11, 2001, utilizes lectures, discussions, films, music, and site visits to explore Bahá’í, Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Jainism, Judaism, Native and Afro-Atlantic Traditions, Sikhism, and Zoroastrianism—sometimes others. Professor Claude Jacobs, Director of the Pluralism Project at the University of Michigan-Dearborn, coordinates the Seminar; Bill McNeece, Director of Photography of the Pluralism Project at the University of Michigan-Dearborn has visually documented the seminar since its inception; Lucinda Mosher, Lecturer II at the University of Michigan-Dearborn is the seminar's founding instructor. The Seminar has had a variety of co-sponsors, including educational institutions, religious groups, and interfaith organizations and is organized by a community-based interfaith planning committee.

Additional Resources

Selected Books, Articles, and Online Resources

Selected Academic Degree and Certificate Programs

Certificate in Interfaith Leadership | Andover Newton Theological School Newton Centre, MA Master of Arts, Interreligious Studies | Claremont Lincoln University, Claremont, CA Master of Theological Studies, Interfaith Relations | Church Divinity School of the Pacific, Berkeley, CA Master of Arts, Interreligious Studies | Graduate Theological Union Berkeley, CA Master of Divinity | Harvard Divinity School, Cambridge, MA Master of Arts/Master of Divinity/Certificate, Interfaith Emphasis | Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, Chicago, IL

Other Selected Training Opportunities for Clergy and Theological School Students