Skip directly to content

Explore the Religious Worlds of New York, and the Religious Lives of Your Diverse Neighbors




The religious landscape of the United States has shifted dramatically in recent years, with the arrival of new Americans from every corner of the globe and every faith tradition.  If America's K-12 students are to become truly educated, engaged citizens of their multicultural democracy, they need to understand its rich religious diversity. The Religious Worlds of New York summer institute contributes to such understanding by helping public, private, and parochial school teachers teach about the everyday lives of American religious communities. 

The Religious Worlds institute is a project of the Interfaith Center of New York and Union Theological Seminary, with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

In July of 2016, our next summer institute will bring 25 teachers from throughout the United States to New York City, where they will work with leading scholars of religion, meet with diverse religious leaders, visit local houses of worship, explore the religious life of the city, and develop their own religious diversity curriculum projects.  This combination of classroom and community-based education will introduce teachers to American religious diversity, help them distinguish between academic and devotional approaches to the study of religion, and give them the pedagogic tools they need to teach about contemporary lived religion.  

America's K-12 schools can play a vital role in fostering interfaith understanding, but unfortunately too many teachers are unprepared to teach effectively about contemporary religious diversity.  As a result, too many students learn little more than the basic facts, dates, and doctrines of major religious traditions -- a superficial form of religious literacy that does not prepare them to participate in civic life.  Our students do need to learn about major world religions, but much more than that they need to learn about the religious lives of their neighbors.  The Religious Worlds institute helps teachers move beyond a pedagogy of "dates and doctrines," to richer discussions of American religious diversity.  Classroom by classroom, the teachers we work with are transforming the study of religion in K-12 schools, and empowering a new generation of Americans to bridge the divides between their religious worlds.

This website will tell you all about the 2016 summer institute, including a selection from the overwhelmingly positive participant evaluations of our 2012 and 2014 institutes.

The site also offers links to a wide range of resources for teaching on religious diversity, as well as contact information for the institute director, Dr. Henry Goldschmidt. We are always glad to hear from teachers, and support their work in whatever ways we can!



Photo credits:  Manhattan skyline by Francisco Diez, Creative Commons.  NYC religious life scenes, top to bottom, by: skalis, Creative Commons;  jnap, Creative Commons; Mat McDermott, Creative Commons; and used by permission of Jenny Jozwiak, Diversity of Devotion.