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Johnson C. Smith University
Interfaith Leadership & Religious Literacy

Pluralism is open, welcoming appreciation of religious difference, expressed as a cultural value. Unfortunately, many students enter college with little critical understanding of religion and its influence on the world. This deficit can lead to apathy, incivility, and a failure to respect the needs and rights of others. Johnson C. Smith University, in partnership with the Mecklenburg Metropolitan Interfaith Network (MeckMIN), proposes to address this problem through “Potlucks for Pluralism,” a program which will run in collaboration with five other colleges and universities in the region. Four times each academic year, the project will bring 50 – 75 college students together with 15 – 25 members of a religious host community for a meal and a structured conversation. Each year the four host communities will be from four different religious traditions. Students will deepen their religious literacy, develop relationships across lines of religious difference, and cultivate greater compassion, empathy, and respect for people and communities different from themselves. Students will have the option to participate in additional training events to become skilled facilitators of interfaith conversations, extending the influence of “Potlucks for Pluralism” far beyond the campuses involved.