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What Public Universities Can Do About Religion

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American Higher Education prepares generation after generation to be educated people, competent professionals, and engaged citizens. Public universities have a particular responsibility – and accountability – to the public, to both, serve and benefit the breadth of this diverse nation. Covid-19 has exacerbated some of the challenges and will likely accelerate many of the changes already underway within higher education, amidst rising costs and questions of value 

Crises often elevate what is most important to an individual, an organization, a community, and a country. As Higher Education leaders prepare for an unprecedented fall 2020, amidst a global pandemic, a national economic recession, and weeks of sustained protest for racial justice in all 50 states, the pressure to meet this moment continues to rise. If we are to do the hard work of strengthening our diverse democracy to make it work for all, we need the wisdom and experience of people from diverse identities and positions to learn from one another and take action. 

In the fall of 2019, a group of senior administrators, faculty, and student-facing staff from twenty public universities gathered to engage the question: what role do public universities have in advancing civic religious pluralism today? Together this group addressed four distinct areas where questions of public education and religious, spiritual, and secular identity and diversity commonly come into a conversation: mission connection, senior leadership buy-in, first amendment, and structural approaches to interfaith work. 

We need interfaith leaders now more than ever – people who can build bridges across deep differences to mobilize communities for the common good. Read the report from this crucial convening to learn how you can be part of this effort. 

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