Academic Programs 
      

Dialogue in a World of Difference   (MA-530)
Fall 2009


A required course for all students enrolled in the Master of Arts degree program. Students and faculty in a collegial setting will explore in depth the principles and the practice of dialogue in a pluralistic world through dialogical listening and cross-cultural conversations in a context of diversity. Goals of the course include the development of listening and communication skills in multi-cultural contexts; fostering an understanding of one another through information sharing and community building action; and learning how to discuss potentially divisive issues constructively and without animosity. This course is graded on a Pass/Fail basis.

Meeting Day, Time and Dates: 
Monday’s 6:00 – 9:00pm

Heidi Hadsell
Professor of Social Ethics


Contact Information:

phone: 
(860) 509-9502

email: hadsell@hartsem.edu

Yehezkel Landau
Professor of Religion and Society

Contact Information:
phone: (860)509-9538
email: ylandau@hartsem.edu

 

Ingrid Mattson
Professor of Islamic Studies and Christian-Muslim Relations


Contact Information:

phone
 (860) 509-9531
email: mattson@hartsem.edu

 



COURSE DESCRIPTION: Students and faculty in a collegial setting will learn about the practice and models of interfaith dialogue; be introduced to critical substantive issues related to interfaith relations in today’s globalized context; and appreciatively encounter the diversity of Hartford Seminary’s student body through an ongoing experience of dialogical listening and conversation.

UNDERLYING COURSE ASSUMPTION: This is more than a course about dialogue.
It is an invitation to engage in the practice of dialogue in a structured setting and thereby to develop the appreciative capacities that, among other things, will enable you to take maximum advantage of the diversity of students you will have in classes throughout your Hartford Seminary experience. Course outcomes focus on what is learned in the process.

OUTCOMES:

  • A sense of collegiality and community across religious, cultural, gender lines
  • An experientially grounded understanding of the principles of interfaith dialogue
  • The ability to participate meaningfully and constructively in multi-cultural and interfaith conversations and learning
  • The critical, intellectual capacity to address substantive issues from a dialogically appreciate perspective
  • Familiarity with a spectrum of Hartford Seminary faculty

EXPECTATIONS:

  • Complete assigned reading in preparation for the class session for which it is assigned
  • Participate fully in class discussions and activities. Timely and regular attendance is especially important, as is familiarity with the assigned reading
  • The nature and quality of classroom discussion is critical. Expectations include:
    - Sharing openly and respectfully
    - Empathetic listening (listening with an intention of hearing and understanding the others’ perspectives)
    - Creating and sustaining a safe space for open and beneficial conversations, including respecting the confidentiality of what is said in class and posted on the online discussion board!
  • Attend and observe two worship services, first a worship at your regular place of worship in the U.S., and second, a worship in a faith tradition other than your own.
  • Timely submission of one’s reflection and worship papers.

THE GRADE FOR THE COURSE WILL BE PASS OR FAIL

COURSE READING

Primary course readings will consist of papers, book chapters and excerpts assigned by guest faculty for their respective sessions. These will either be handed out at the previous class, be available online or be made available to be copied in the library reserve section. Additionally, students should purchase Not Without My Neighbor: Issues in Interfaith Relations ( S. Wesley Ariarajah) and The Other in the Light of the One: The Universality of the Qur’an and Interfaith Dialogue (Reza Shah-Kazemi). We will be reading chapters from the following two books, which students may purchase if they prefer having a book to an online copy of selective material: Robert Wuthnow, America and the Challenges of Religious Diversity (Princeton Univ Press; 2005, paperback 2007); Jane Smith, Muslims, Christians, and the Challenge of Interfaith Dialogue (Oxford Univ Press, 2007).

Assigned reading should be read prior to and in preparation for
the class session for which it is assigned

WRITTEN ASSIGNMENTS

Students will complete four, brief reflection papers during the course. Topics and guidelines for each will be handed out in class. Due dates are:

Sept 28: How do I make sense of a diversity of faith traditions, and how does this relate to my engagement of the religious other?

Oct 12: Personal and Pastoral Issues in Interfaith Encounter

Nov 2: What does my faith say about communitarian and universalist approaches to ethics, and what implications does this have for interfaith dialogue?

Nov 16: Reflection on your worship observation

SESSION OUTLINE

Session One: September 14 – Why Dialogue? Why Me?
Heidi Hadsell – Introduction to Interfaith Dialogue at Hartford Seminary
Yehezkel Landau – The Benefits and Risks of Interfaith Engagement
Ingrid Mattson – The Global Challenge of Promoting Interfaith Understanding

Reading:
Not Without My Neighbor, Chapters 1 & 2
Chapters 1 & 5 in Jane Smith’s, Muslims, Christians and the Challenge of Interfaith Dialogue
Swidler, “The Dialogue Decalogue” online
Magonet, “Talking to the Other: Jewish Interfaith Dialogue with Christians and Muslims(Chapter 2 & 8) - online

Session Two: September 28 – Worship and Dialogue
Heidi Hadsell, Convener: Guest Faculty: Scott Thumma

Reading:
Mapping the Field of Ritual, Ronald L Grimes - online
Not Without My Neighbor, Chapters 3 & 7

Reflection Paper Due: How do I make sense of a diversity of faith traditions, and how does this relate to my engagement of the religious other?

Session Three: October 5 –Typologies for Interfaith Encounter
Yehezkel Landau, Convener – Exclusivism, Inclusivism, Pluralism

Readings: (all online)
Other Religions Are False Paths That Mislead Their Followers, Ajith Fernando
Other Religions Are Implicit Forms of our Own Religion, Karl Rahner
Other Religions Are Equally Valid Ways to the Same Truth, John Hick
Other Religions Speak of Different but Equally Valid Truths, John b. Cobb Jr
Is the Pluralist Model a Western Imposition? Paul F. Knitter
Islam and Pluralism, Ashgar Ali Engineer

Session Four: October 12 – Scripture and Dialogue
Ingrid Mattson Convener. Guest Faculty: Uriah Kim and Mahmoud Ayoub

Readings:
The Qur’an and Its Interpreters, Volume 1 – Dr. Mahmoud Ayoub (online)
Genesis 37-50; Surah XII (Surat Yusuf) of the Qur’an
Entire issue (only 35 pages long) of The Student Journal of Scriptural
Reasoning (Vol. 1, No. 1, October 2006): Online at --http://etext.virginia.edu/journals/abraham/sjsr/issues/volume1/number1/index.html

Reflection Paper Due: Personal and Pastoral Issues in Interfaith Encounter

Session Five: October 19 – Theology and Dialogue
Yehezkel Landau, Convener. Guest Faculty – Kelton Cobb and Yahya Michot

Readings:
S. Mark Heim, "Saving the Particulars: The Diversity of Religious Ends," chapter one from Heim, The Depth of Riches: A Trinitarian Theology of Religious Ends (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Pub. Co, 2001), 17-45.

Session Six: October 26 – Communitarian and Universalist Ethics
Heidi Hadsell, Convener

Readings:
Walzer, Thick and Thin: Moral Argument Home and Abroad (chapters 1 & 5) - online

Reflection Paper Due: What does my faith say about communitarian and universalist approaches to ethics, and what implications does this have for interfaith dialogue?

Session Seven: November 2 – Responses to Religious Diversity
Heidi Hadsell, Convener. Guest Faculty – David Roozen – Congregational and Personal Strategies for Approaching Interfaith Relations

Readings:
Chapters 1, 8 & 10 in Robert Wuthnow’s, America and the Challenges of Religious Diversity

Reflection Paper Due: What does my faith say about communitarian and universalist approaches to ethics, and what implications does this have for interfaith dialogue?

Session Eight: November 9 – Islam and Interfaith Relations
Ingrid Mattson, Convener

Readings:
Reza Shah-Kazemi, The Other in the Light of the One: The Universitality of the Qur’an and Interfaith Dialogue (Cambridge: Islamic Texts Society, 2006) Chapters 3-4, pp. 140-278

Session Nine: November 16 – Interfaith Dialogue and Peacebuilding
Yehezkel Landau, Convener

Reading:
Abu-Nimer, “The Miracles of Transformation through Interfaith Dialogue:
Are You a Believer?”
Gopin, “The Use of the Word and Its Limits: A Critical Evaluation of
Religious Dialogue as Peacemaking”
Cilliers, “Building Bridges for Interfaith Dialogue”
(chapters 1, 2, and 3 of David Smock, ed., Interfaith Dialogue and
Peacebuilding)
Landau, Healing the Holy Land: Interreligious Peacebuilding in
Israel/Palestine

Reflection Paper Due: Reflection on your worship observation

NOTE – Monday, November 23rd is Reading Week – no class

Session Ten: November 30 – Reports From the Front Lines
Ingrid Mattson – Reflections on the initiative “A Common Word”
Yehezkel Landau – International meetings of rabbis and imams

Readings:
As many documents as possible from: http://acommonword.com

 

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