To bring together what is normally a disparate set of religious groups on campus, the Northwestern University Council of Religions will kick off Religious Awareness Week 2008 on Monday with two of America’s top experts on faith.
Best-selling author Stephen Prothero and Eboo Patel, the founder of an international group promoting religious pluralism, will talk about the role of religion in American society.
NU’s religious groups rarely coordinate, but the week’s planners hope to raise cross-religion awareness.
“In America, religious awareness has gone down recently,” said organizer Collin Johnson, who is a member of NUCOR and University Christian Ministry. “Being aware of different religions helps promote tolerance among groups; they have more of an understanding of religion than just what the media gives them.”
Monday’s programs will kick off shortly before noon with a free lunch with Patel, who is expected to quickly fill up Parkes Hall 122. In 2004, Patel delivered the keynote speech at the Nobel Peace Prize Forum, alongside figures such as Jimmy Carter and Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland, the former prime minister of Norway. The author of a book about Islam in America, Patel holds a doctorate in the sociology of religion from Oxford University.
The week continues with a Monday afternoon forum featuring Patel and author Stephen Prothero, ahead of the second major event in this year’s program: Harris Hall 107 will welcome Prothero for a speech and reception starting at 7:30 p.m.
In his best-selling book Religious Literacy, Prothero argues for much of what Religious Awareness Week strives for, Johnson said. Prothero argues that religion must become the “fourth R” of American education — a way to combat religious illiteracy among Americans and make it easier to live in a globalized world.
Tuesday’s only event, the Interfaith Hall Game Night, may also be the most low-key one. Without a pronounced religious theme, the Interfaith Game Night will “focus on being friendly and just being together,” Johnson said.
The idea of Religious Awareness Week came to sophomores Jackie Grinvalds and Melanie Harmon more than a year ago when they attended a conference on religion at the University of Southern California. Religious Awareness Week is not new to Northwestern, but NUCOR is giving it a fresh start after no such event happened last year.
All events are free, and sponsored by the Office of the Chaplain and supported by the Religion Department.
The full schedule for Religious Awareness Week 2008:
Monday, April 7
11:30 a.m., Eboo Patel Luncheon – free catered lunch and speech at Parkes Hall 122
4:00 p.m., Patel Forum – Forum featuring Eboo Patel and Stephen Prothero, Parkes Hall 120
7:30 p.m., Steven Prothero Event – speech with reception to follow, Harris Hall 107
9:00 p.m., OM Hindu Student Group Meeting
Tuesday, April 8
7:30 p.m., Interfaith Hall Game Night – catch phrase, cranium, pool, ping pong, air hockey, apples to apples, Interfaith Hall, Foster Walker Complex
Wednesday, April 9
5:00 p.m., Buddhist Study Group – Multicultural Center, lounge on second floor
7:30 p.m., Latter Day Saints Student Association (LDSSA) – University Hall 218
9:00-10:30 p.m., Greek IV “House”
10:00 p.m. – Mid-Week Worship – joint worship with Canterbury Northwestern and ULC, 2204 Orrington Ave.
Thursday, April 10
7:30 p.m., Zen Society Weekly Meeting – Alice Millar Chapel Oratory room
9:00 p.m., Cru RealLife
9:30 p.m., Muslim Cultural Student Association (McSA) General Body Meeting
Friday, April 11
1:15-2:15 p.m., McSA Jumuah Prayers – Friday Prayers, Parkes Hall 122
4:00-5:15 p.m., Wonderfully Made Women’s Bible Study – Annennberg G64
6:00 p.m., Hillel Shabbat Services and Dinner – 629 Foster (Hillel), Orthodox, Conservative, Reform
7:00 p.m., Shabbat Dinner Service – 2014 Orrington (Tannenbaum Chabad House)