Associate Professor of Religious Studies Dr. Steve Dawson is one of 25 faculty members in the country selected to participate in the Teaching Interfaith Understanding seminar at DePaul University in Chicago from June 18-22.
The seminar, which is co-hosted by the Council of Independent Colleges and Interfaith America, seeks to help faculty advance “essential work in diversity and understanding.”
According to the CIC’s website, “an interfaith or interreligious approach allows students to reflect on questions of personal meaning, purpose, and values in the experiential forms of narratives, beliefs, and practices.”
The 2023 seminar will “examine how interfaith understanding can be taught effectively in the college classroom so that students are equipped for interfaith engagement and leadership, both in the classroom and beyond.”
Dawson, who came to Lynchburg in 2010 and chairs the philosophy department, said he’s looking forward to meeting, and working with, the other faculty members selected for the event. He’s also excited about how the seminar will inform his teaching and research.
“I have become deeply interested in contemplative pedagogy, which can be understood as the use of various contemplative practices from a wide array of different cultural, religious, and philosophical traditions,” Dawson said.
“This approach to teaching and learning is transformative insofar as students engage the world by paying attention to their particular experience of engagement, [an] experience that necessarily changes throughout the process of engagement. Students thus come to see the world differently because the [ways in which] they themselves are now different.”
He’s also participating in a project funded by a CIC grant titled “Spiritual Practices in Lynchburg: An Experiential Journey,” a collaboration between the religious studies department, the Office of Equity and Inclusion, and the Spiritual Life Center.
“I’m excited about the opportunities … this seminar can open, both [for] the work I do with contemplative pedagogy in my own classes as well as my ongoing participation in our ‘Spiritual Practices in Lynchburg’ project,” Dawson said.