Research Centers & Training Opportunities

Teaching world religions and religious literacy in public school classrooms can be challenging for teachers if they lack confidence or feel they need to improve their own content knowledge about religions and philosophies. Yet, world religions are clearly incorporated into many of the state of Texas TEKS such as World Cultures, World Geography, and World History as well as AP* courses, such as AP Human Geography and AP World History. Participants will deepen content knowledge in the study of religions within their fields using the guidelines of the Texas TEKS and AP course descriptions. Teachers will engage in academic reading, reflective writing, discussion boards, and active learning. This course will culminate in a workshop to develop a set of classroom lesson plans utilizing newly acquired content knowledge.

Constitution2Classroom.org is a professional development platform for K-12 teachers to learn constitutional approaches to teaching about religion. Designed for busy teachers, these 1-hour professional-development modules are available to take online when convenient. Examine theories and methodologies, evaluate case studies, and explore how you can incorporate religious studies into your current curriculum.

The Georgia 3Rs Project — Rights, Responsibility and Respect — was created to help schools and communities come together across differences and engender civic participation in a diverse democracy. In recent decades, many communities have experienced a dramatic increase in diversity, which has also corresponded with an increase in violence and hate speech across all levels of society. There has been little in the way of resources and training to address these new challenges, despite educators navigating religious freedom and religious literacy issues every day, whether in their curricula or in the interactions they have with students, parents and community members. The Georgia 3Rs Project team has created high-quality and unique professional development opportunities for educators, administrators and district officials on religion and public schools. Professional development is targeted to help educators and administrators understand the First Amendment’s protection of religious liberty for people of all religious traditions and none, investigate First Amendment approaches to religion and education to ensure students’ religious liberty in public schools and to recognize the difference between a devotional approach to teaching religion and the non-sectarian, academic study of religion through a social and historical lens.

  • The Summer Institute at the Harvard Religious Literacy Project is open to educators teaching at the middle school, high school, and community college levels in any discipline.This training introduces educators to a powerful set of specific methods and frameworks that will enable them to teach about religion in pedagogically rich and constitutionally sound ways. Participants use teaching resources developed by the Religious Literacy Project, and engage in on-site lesson planning in collaboration with peers. We focus on teaching content that is already embedded in teachers’ current curricula, including courses such as history or literature courses, in addition to courses in world religions.
  • The Religious Studies and Education Certificate (RSEC) was established in 2008 and is jointly sponsored by the Harvard Divinity School and Harvard Extension School. It is designed to provide educators in a variety of settings with a multidisciplinary foundation for approaching the study of religion in contexts focused on learning about religion from a nonsectarian perspective. These may include K-12 public school classrooms, college and university settings, and interfaith or multifaith endeavors.
  • Professor Diane Moore, director of the Religious Literacy Project, launched a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) through HarvardX entitled Religion, Conflict, and Peace in Contemporary Global Affairs. The course is offered online to a global audience and participants have the opportunity to take it for free or sign up for a Certificate for $50. 

Founded by Professor Diana L. Eck, the Pluralism Project at Harvard University studies and interprets the changing religious landscape of the United States. We conduct research with the help of students, in collaboration with others in our field, and in partnership with religious communities and interfaith organizations. Our award-winning educational resources are informed by this ongoing research.

The Pluralism Project website, www.pluralism.org, offers quality educational content for religious literacy including: an introduction to the faiths and ethical traditions of the world in our Religions section; a chronicle of the historical and contemporary challenges of religious diversity and interfaith relations in our Encounter section; an exploration of the built environment through the Landscape section; and an examination the dilemmas of our multireligious society through the Case Initiative section. A curated selection of News & Media provide dynamic, regular updates to our extensive, award-winning website.

Interfaith Center of New York’s flagship course for teachers is the Religious Worlds of New York summer institute, an intensive three-week program developed in partnership with Union Theological Seminary, and with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities. The Religious Worlds 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 religious diversity 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 Uberoi Foundation sponsored a pilot program held at the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth campus, during the summer of 2010. The intended audience for the program was high school teachers, and the objective was to broaden the teachers’ views of India as a country and, in particular, of the Dharmic traditions of Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, and Jainism. Eight high school teachers from the northeast of the United States took part in the pilot program held over five business days that first summer. The program’s primary organizer was Bal Ram Singh, the director of the Center for Indic Studies at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, where he is also a professor of biophysical chemistry.In each of the summers since the pilot program in 2010, the Uberoi Foundation has continued to sponsor teacher training at UMass Dartmouth. Each year, individualized workshops cover a general introduction of India followed by in-depth background on Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, and Jainism. Local and regional experts lead the workshops. The participating teachers also enjoy cultural activities, such as a classical Hindustani music concert by a trained sitarist, tours of nearby Hindu temples, and trials of Indian clothing such as saris, lehngas, dhotis, and kurtas. On the final day of the training, participating teachers showcase the two lesson plans they have designed throughout their days of training as well as their plans to continue working on eight lessons plans designed for use in their high schools back home.