With funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis will work in partnership with Ivy Tech Community College faculty to create 150 course modules on world religions for Ivy Tech humanities classes.
The NEH, in Washington, D.C., recently announced it has awarded IUPUI $119,009 to conduct “World Religions in Greater Indianapolis,” a two-year study program on contemporary religious traditions in greater Indianapolis for 15 faculty members at the Indianapolis campus of Ivy Tech Community College.
Led by IUPUI professors Edward Curtis and Arthur Farnsley and Ivy Tech humanities chair Jack Cooney, the program will help the Ivy Tech faculty develop course modules on five world religions for the existing Ivy Tech humanities core, including courses on history, literature and cultural anthropology.
“This NEH grant for ‘World Religions in Greater Indianapolis’ exemplifies all we reach for at Ivy Tech Community College as we provide our students with learning opportunities which lead them to flourishing lives as well-educated citizens and as resourcefully nimble employees,” Cooney said. “We are both honored and proud to partner with our teacher colleagues at IUPUI whose vision for this substantial NEH grant is not without regard to our possibilities.”
The Center for the Study of Religion and American Culture, a unit of the IU School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI, will operate the program, which will connect Ivy Tech faculty to experts on Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism at IUPUI, Indiana University Bloomington, Butler University and Marian University.
The program seeks not only to bolster humanities content at Ivy Tech but also to create more understanding of Central Indiana’s religious diversity, especially of recent immigrant communities.
“This project will aid faculty in helping students understand the breadth of religious traditions in America and in central Indiana,” IUPUI Chancellor Charles R. Bantz said. “At a time when there are far too many examples of misunderstandings about religions, this is a vital project. I am pleased that the Center for the Study of Religion and American Culture, one of our outstanding research and public outreach centers, is willing to lead this project.”
Ivy Tech faculty in the program will be introduced to world religious traditions and their sacred texts, and study their significance to U.S. history and culture. After their study of a particular tradition, the faculty will then arrange discussions with members of a recent immigrant community from that tradition. The faculty will create the Ivy Tech course modules as capstone projects based on their comprehensive studies.
Participating religious communities from Central Indiana include Jews from the former Soviet Union, Russia and Ukraine; Spanish-speaking Roman Catholic Christians from Latin America; Muslims from West Africa; Hindus from India; and Buddhists from Vietnam.
“We are grateful to all of our community partners for making it possible to bring together Central Indiana’s academic experts and its rich immigrant cultures in a program for Ivy Tech faculty,” said Bill Blomquist, dean of the IU School of Liberal Arts.
NEH grants are among the most prestigious research awards in the humanities. The “World Religions in Greater Indianapolis” program received one of only four grants awarded in the NEH’s “Bridging Cultures at Community Colleges” category, for which there were 46 applications.
Created in 1965 as an independent federal agency, the NEH supports research and learning in history, literature, philosophy and other areas of the humanities by funding selected, peer-reviewed proposals from around the nation.