Bridgewater College awarded curriculum development grant from the Teagle Foundation
The project, led by Dr. Nancy Klancher, assistant professor of philosophy and religion, will bring together faculty from the four academic divisions at Bridgewater to teach core skills in interfaith engagement, cooperation, and understanding. Students will use these skills in their future careers as they work with people of different religious traditions in a variety of job settings.
The focus of the project will be on experiential and applied learning and the acquisition of leadership skills in interfaith advocacy and peacemaking. Included in these skills are familiarity with the world’s major religions and appreciation of religious differences; communication skills that make possible interreligious cooperation, engagement, and understanding; knowledge of social, political, legal and ethical barriers to, and opportunities for, interreligious work; and the application of these skills through proposing solutions to interreligious case studies or directly engaging with people of different religious traditions.
How these skills strengthen Bridgewater’s pre-professional curricula is another focus of the project.
“Bridgewater College is dedicated to preparing its students for ethical engagement as global citizens,” said Dr. Klancher. “We stress socially progressive engagement with, and service to, the community. Developing a robust Interfaith Studies curriculum should be an integral part of this mission.”
“It is necessary,” she continued, “to prepare our students to master the complexities of a rapidly evolving world in which, increasingly, religiously based hostilities and fears threaten everyone’s wellbeing. Yet religion can and should be a force for good. Our students need to be able to engage with multiple religious perspectives with insight, skill, and compassion so that they can contribute as leaders and peacemakers to the common good.”
Participating faculty in religious studies (pre-ministry), political science (pre-law), theater, social work and pre-professional health include the following: Dr. William Abshire, the Anna B. Mow Endowed Professor of Philosophy and Religion; Skip Burzumato, instructor of sociology; Dr. Scott Cole, associate professor of theater; Dr. Harriett E. Hayes, the Lawrence S. and Carmen C. Miller Chair in Ethics and associate professor of sociology; Dr. James Josefson, associate professor of political science; Dr. Brian Kelley, associate professor of psychology; and Dr. Jill Lassiter, associate professor of health and human sciences.
The Teagle Foundation works to support and strengthen liberal arts education, which it sees as fundamental to meaningful work, effective citizenship, and a fulfilling life.
Bridgewater College is a private, four-year liberal arts college located in the Central Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. Founded in 1880, it was the state’s first private, coeducational college. Today, Bridgewater College is home to more than 1,800 undergraduate students.