Publication Date

2011

Degree Name

MA in Social Justice in Intercultural Relations

First Advisor

Karen Blanchard

Abstract

Today in the United States and in the larger world, there is a burgeoning interfaith movement that is bringing people together across religious lines to build relationships and achieve common goals. Despite women's great contributions to this movement, little research has been done to understand their perspectives on interfaith work: why interfaith work is valuable to them, how they connect personal faith to interfaith work, how they have been impacted by the work they have done, and the larger social changes they hope their work contributes to.

Through in-depth interviews with four women who are interfaith leaders in Central Ohio, this paper furthers the study of women's interfaith agency in order to understand their perspectives about their experiences, motivations, areas of growth, and visions for the future. Their stories point to their desire to build a community and world that shares their interfaith values and that reflects their own personal growth as they discover an ever-expanding sense of community with those from other faiths. They demonstrate an immense amount of self-learning that has come from their endeavors to learn about the religious “Other” and to build relationships across religious boundaries.

The learnings we can draw from these women's stories and self-reflections provide materials for understanding not only their nuanced experiences, values, and hopes as interfaith agents, but also how the personal and particular nature of the individual within community are so deeply intertwined with the larger world and larger social movements. These women remind us that women's voices are both valid and vital to the collective self-reflection and action necessary for lasting change in the world.

Disciplines

Civic and Community Engagement | Family, Life Course, and Society | Religion | Women's Studies

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