At the 2015 World’s Parliament of Religions in Salt Lake City with Nazareth College’s Dr. Muhammad Shafiq

At the 2015 World’s Parliament of Religions in Salt Lake City with Nazareth College’s Dr. Muhammad Shafiq
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The Salt Lake Tribune, 10/16/15 Governor Herbert (right) spoke at the Parliament

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Dr. Shafiq (middle)

Today, I am pleased to introduce a new voice to Talker of the Town, Dr. Muhammad Shafiq, Executive Director of the Hickey Center for Interfaith Studies and Dialogue, Professor of Religious Studies, and IIIT Interfaith Studies Chair.

This has been a whirlwind last several weeks for Shafiq. First, he represented Nazareth College at Bologna University at an Interfaith Symposium. Then westward to the University of Wisconsin-Madison (my alma mater!) taking part in the Lubar Institute’s Nostra Aetate and the Future of Interreligious Dialogue. Going even further west to Utah, he was joined by a Nazareth student/faculty/staff contingent–along with nine attendees from the University of Rochester–at the Parliament of the World’s Religions.

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Sikh community “langgar” (free lunch)

First convened in 1893, then again one hundred years later, and since then every fifth year, the Parliament of the World’s Religions was created and then revived, nudging the world a bit closer to a “global village.”

The Parliament experience in Dr. Shafiq’s words:

I have been to the Parliament of World’s Religions conferences before, especially the one in Melbourne, Australia in 2011. Lynne Boucher, the Director of Nazareth’s Center for Spirituality, and myself were together in Melbourne, and it was an amazing time for both of us. Although we did not take any students from our college, we felt that it would have been a unique experience had they been there.  The Parliament of World religion experience is intergenerational, and vital as the next generation takes its own leadership role in the America of the future.

This time we made sure to include students. Twelve of us went together to the Parliament of World Religions Conference on October 15-19, 2015 representing Nazareth College: 5 faculty and staff members and 7 students. We had three sessions to present our own experience at Nazareth College. You may know that Nazareth College is the first academic institution to have created the Hickey Center for Interfaith Studies and Dialogue and that Rochester is a model interfaith city.  To represent Nazareth college and the Rochester interfaith experience was an honor. We learned a lot and enjoyed abundantly listening to others and participating in the variety of interfaith programs at the Parliament. I believe that not only us but our students have have returned to Nazareth College with a new vision.  A vision to be shared with the rest of Nazareth community as they prepare themselves to be future leaders.

A memorable Parliament to be sure.

Equally so for Brittany Smith, Nazareth senior and student coordinator at the Hickey Center without whose ability to clip and scan the above article the post would have been barren.

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Buddhists monks building a mandala

Brittany herself presented with one other Nazareth student and eight University of Rochester students on how interfaith understanding impacts a variety of career paths.

Presenting on Museum Studies and issues of cultural sensitivity, Brittany explained the complexities many museums face when exhibiting artifacts of non-westernized cultures or faiths. For example, the masks of the Seneca tribe were put on display in the Native American galleries at the Rochester Museum and Science Center sparking a sometimes heated debate about whether sacred objects could or even should be on public display outside the reservation.

see also On the Thomas Merton Room and the 100th Anniversary of his birth and

The underground history of Nazareth College with President Daan Braveman


Students from Nazareth College and University of Rochester. Brittany Smith is the fifth from the left.

Nazareth College’s President Daan Braveman on defining moments and his own March on Washington, August 1963

About The Author

Welcome to Talker of the Town! My name is David Kramer. I have a Ph.D in English and teach at Keuka College. I am a former and still active Fellow at the Nazareth College Center for Public History and a Storyteller in Residence at the SmallMatters Institute. Over the years, I have taught at Monroe Community College, the Rochester Institute of Technology and St. John Fisher College. I have published numerous Guest Essays, Letters, Book Reviews and Opinion pieces in The New York Times, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, the Buffalo News, the Rochester Patriot, the Providence Journal, the Providence Business News, the Brown Alumni Magazine, the New London Day, the Boston Herald, the Messenger Post Newspapers, the Wedge, the Empty Closet, the CITY, Lake Affect Magazine and Brighton Connections. My poetry appears in The Criterion: An International Journal in English and Rundenalia and my academic writing in War, Literature and the Arts and Twentieth Century Literary Criticism. Starting in February 2013, I wrote for three Democratic and Chronicle  blogs, "Make City Schools Better," "Unite Rochester," and the "Editorial Board." When my tenure at the D & C  ended, I wanted to continue conversations first begun there. And start new ones.  So we created this new space, Talker of the Town, where all are invited to join. I don’t like to say these posts are “mine.” Very few of them are the sole product of my sometimes overheated imagination. Instead, I call them partnerships and collaborations. Or as they say in education, “peer group work.” Talker of the Town might better be Talkers of the Town. The blog won’t thrive without your leads, text, pictures, ideas, facebook shares, tweets, comments and criticisms.


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