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Summer workshop for teachers to boost knowledge of world religions


Melissa Mitchell, News Bureau arts writer
(217) 333-5491;

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — For the first time, the University of Illinois at
Urbana-Champaign this summer is offering a weeklong institute for pre-collegiate teachers to boost their knowledge and understanding of world religions.

"Knowledge for the Global Classroom: World Religions" will take place July 7-13 on the Illinois campus. The organizers and sponsors of the institute are the Center for African Studies, Center for East Asian and Pacific Studies, Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies, Russian and East European Center, Program for Middle Eastern and South Asian Studies, Drobny Program for the Study of Jewish Culture and Society, International Programs and Studies, and Program for the Study of Religions.

Nan Volinsky, academic programs and outreach coordinator in the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies, said the institute is designed primarily for middle school and high school teachers who wish to incorporate knowledge about world religions into a wide range of curricula.

"The power of faith within any given religious tradition can bring peace or generate divisiveness and violence," Volinsky said. "Now as never before, young students need to develop a critical perspective when trying to understand and to resolve conflict in our ever changing, ever close-knit world."

The institute’s opening event, a dinner and keynote presentation by Gary Porton, the Drobny Chair of Talmudic Studies, is scheduled for 6 p.m. July 7 in 210 Illini Union, 1401 W. Green St., Urbana. Subsequent sessions will be held at the International Studies Building, 910 S. Fifth St., Champaign.

The institute will provide teachers with an opportunity to explore the values, world views and history of six world religious traditions: Buddhism, Catholicism, Eastern Orthodox Christianity, Hinduism, Islam and Judaism.

Each day, the institute will focus on one religious tradition. Following a general introduction, sessions will focus on the practice of that religion in specific geographic regions, such as Hinduism in India and Islam in Africa. In addition to attending lectures and video screenings and engaging in discussions, participants will have the opportunity to visit religious establishments.

The cost of the institute is $100 per person. Registration information is available on the Web or by contacting Mona Knight, (217) 333-2380;