Norwich professor selected to participate in special seminar on teaching interfaith understanding

Norwich University Assistant Professor Timothy Kent Parker, Ph.D., has been selected from a nationwide pool of nominees to participate in a faculty seminar on the teaching of interfaith understanding to be held in Boston later this month.

The seminar is offered by the Council of Independent Colleges (CIC) and Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC), with support from the Henry Luce Foundation.

Twenty-five faculty members will participate in the five-day Teaching Interfaith Understanding seminar that will take place June 21–25, 2015, at Boston College in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts.

Parker teaches history and theory of architecture and art in Norwich’s School of Architecture + Art. His interest in this topic stems from a desire to promote interfaith understanding at Norwich University and to connect several disparate efforts that support that goal.

Although Norwich has both military and civilian students and programs, Parker feels that, in particular, Norwich students planning on commissioning into the Armed Forces can benefit from these conversations.

“Given the presence of religion—however variously interpreted—in areas and events of conflict, military personnel and their leaders should be among those most aware of world religions,” he said.

Parker is a practicing architect with a graduate degree in philosophy, a brief stint at an Episcopal Seminary and a doctorate in Architectural History and Theory that includes a dissertation on modern Catholic churches in Rome. His doctoral work employed interdisciplinary methods to relate theological and architectural conceptions of modern identity, and his most current work focuses upon the art and architecture of religious pluralism.

“Professor Parker has ongoing teaching and research initiatives that will be enriched by the seminar, and Norwich University is ideally situated to embrace and nourish the results of this timely opportunity,” said Guiyou Huang, senior vice president of academic affairs and dean of the faculty. “This seminar will in turn benefit Professor Parker’s students.”

The seminar will be led by two leading scholars: Catherine Cornille, Newton College alumnae chair of western culture, chair of the department of theology, and professor of comparative theology at Boston College; and Noah Silverman, director of faculty partnerships at IFYC. Stephen Prothero, professor of religion at Boston University, will be a special guest speaker.

The program aims to broaden faculty members’ knowledge and strengthen their teaching of interfaith understanding with the development of new courses and resources.

“Strengthening the teaching of interfaith understanding at colleges and universities is a high priority at a time when college enrollment—and American society—is becoming more diverse. Strengthening participation in American life with greater understanding of the distinctive contributions of different faiths is a key to America’s future success,” said CIC President Richard Ekman. “The number of institutions that nominated faculty members to participate in the interfaith understanding seminar is most impressive.”

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The Council of Independent Colleges is an association of 750 nonprofit independent colleges and universities and higher education affiliates and organizations that has worked since 1956 to support college and university leadership, advance institutional excellence, and enhance public understanding of private higher education’s contributions to society. CIC is the major national organization that focuses on providing services to leaders of independent colleges and universities as well as conferences, seminars, and other programs that help institutions improve educational quality, administrative and financial performance, and institutional visibility. CIC conducts the largest annual conference of college and university presidents. CIC also provides support to state fundraising associations that organize programs and generate contributions for private colleges and universities. The Council is headquartered at One Dupont Circle in Washington, DC.

A Chicago-based nonprofit organization, Interfaith Youth Core’s (IFYC) mission is to make interfaith cooperation a social norm. Since its incorporation in 2002, IFYC has worked on five continents and with over 200 college and university campuses, trained thousands in the principles of interfaith leadership, and reached millions through the media. IFYC has worked with partners including the Tony Blair Faith Foundation, the White House, and the Office of Her Majesty Queen Rania of Jordan. Eboo Patel is the founder and president of IFYC.