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.
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.
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.