Campus & Community / Magazine Feature

Conference sparks religious talk on campus

The Department of Religious Studies at the University of Denver hosted a one-day conference April 25 on “Religion on the Secular University Campus.”

About 125 people attended the event, which was designed to start a dialogue about how campuses and society can accommodate and respect a multitude of beliefs, even if some of those specific faiths conflict.

“The question of religion — how to teach about it responsibly in the classroom and how to encourage its diverse expressions among students on campus — is a hot topic nationally right now,” said Carl Raschke, DU professor of religious studies and conference coordinator.

Participants discussed a wide-variety of religious topics from teaching Islam in the secular university setting to the role of faculty in students’ lives. Professors from DU, the Iliff School of Theology, the University of Colorado, Metro State University and Front Range Community College, as well as religious professionals and practitioners, participated in the discussions.

“Religion is a major component of people’s lives,” said Dave Valeta, religious studies instructor at the University of Colorado. “We help each other understand how the text, in this case the Bible, motivates people and challenges people.”

Kyle Kissick, a freshman political science and Spanish major, learned about the conference through his affiliation with the Interfaith Alliance.

Kissick, who didn’t grow up studying religion, wanted to know how people who are taught that there is one supreme path interact with people who accept that there are many different paths.

“Best I can do is learn more,” he said. “I might never find an answer, just a different acceptance.”

Raschke said whether or not we teach religion, it impacts everyday life.

“We want to learn how to talk in an honest and effective way and communicate our differences to forge a more sustainable community,” Raschke said.

Comments are closed.