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Can Interfaith Cooperation be the Future of Higher Education?

Can Interfaith Cooperation be the Future of Higher Education?

Higher Education

Religion has been a controversial subject in the world for decades and no one has been able to define it accurately. Every individual has a different belief system and understanding of religion. Hence, secularism is the solution in most of the countries to avoid conflicts and maintain peach and harmony. The term ‘interfaith’ is often used to refer to people with differing perspectives on philosophies, beliefs, practices and institutions of religion, spirituality and faith. The religious dynamics of higher education are changing rapidly.

People who orient around religion differently are interacting with greater frequency than ever before. These interactions, especially in the context of college and university campuses, require young people to grapple with their own identities in ways that previous generations could more easily avoid. Conversations about religious diversity have become elevated at colleges and universities. The era in which religion was privatized and went unengaged on campuses is coming to an end. The combination of increased religious diversity on campuses, the embrace of multiculturalism by higher education more broadly, and the visibility of religious controversy in global politics has made the proactive and positive engagement of interfaith issues a necessity.

America is the most religiously diverse country in the world and its college campuses have long set the educational and civic agenda for the nation on issues such as multiculturalism, volunteerism, and environmentalism. College campuses are now social laboratories where a range of interfaith strategies can be tested; faculty can help create the necessary knowledge base to support and guide interfaith engagement, and higher education can make it a priority to nurture interfaith leaders, much as it has done with multicultural leaders. Campuses should not just acknowledge religious diversity exists but equip students from different religious and non-religious backgrounds to work together in cooperation. Engaging in critical thinking using the religious or spiritual backgrounds of students as a basis for developing new understandings of one’s own faith tradition as well as those of other students is an aim of peace educators and falls under the wider definition of peace education.

Courses focusing on interactions between different religious identities have emerged in a variety of departments, and faculty have written scholarly works on the subject. Today, interfaith cooperation is developing rapidly, and universities are more welcoming. Students also feel inclusive, that promotes a sense of secularism and peace.

It now seems like a very ancient thought when colleges would prefer admitted students from only one religion or perhaps predominantly reserve the seats for the students on bases of religion irrespective of their grades. It not only was unfair but also wrong as education is a right to all. Hence the concept of interfaith cooperation has eliminated the controversies of education and given universities the opportunity to liberally enroll students from all denominations, based on their potential, competence and academics. This has also boosted the confidence of many students who have the capabilities but lack the resources. Every individual must have the freedom of choice, hence interfaith cooperation is truly the future of higher education.

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