by Whittney Barth
Dr. Diana Eck and the Pluralism Project are updating their award-winning resource to explore the religious diversity of the United States. The first edition of On Common Ground: World Religions in America was released as a CD-ROM in 1996, providing teachers, students, and scholars with an innovative interactive resource in three parts: “America’s Many Religions,” “A New Religious Landscape,” and “Encountering Religious Diversity.”
The Pluralism Project is now poised to launch On Common Ground 2.0 (OCG 2.0), a web-based version of this time-tested pedagogical structure. OCG 2.0 explores religious diversity through introductions to many of the world’s religions, maps of religious centers in the context of the changing religious landscape of the United States, and essay explorations of the challenges that arise in the context of this new religious landscape.
Like its predecessor, OCG 2.0 highlights the Pluralism Project’s ongoing research into the changing religious demography of the United States and the implications of religious pluralism on public life, religious communities, and private institutions. These findings are presented in a timely, interactive format suitable for students, educators, clergy, community and business leaders, and citizens interested in understanding the realities America’s multi-religious cities and towns. OCG 2.0 is the product of collaboration among student researchers, staff, and faculty. Ryan Overbey, Pluralism Project post-doctoral fellow, serves as the lead technology specialist.
The “America’s Many Religions” section will include essay sets covering fifteen religious traditions and their development in the United States, with select updates to reflect the complexities of a post-9/11 era. Additionally, a new essay set on Atheism/Humanism will be included to explore the growing presence of these communities in American public life.
The “A New Religious Landscape” section will employ Geographic Information System technology to map the religious landscape of select cities and regions across the country, integrating census data and active links to organizational websites to offer the user a rich and dynamic educational experience. The organizational web links embedded in the maps emphasize the Pluralism Project’s commitment to empowering and encouraging communities to share their own stories.
Finally, the “Encountering Religious Diversity” section will include an updated essay collection that presents a few of the challenges that arise when campuses, hospitals, city halls, and church basements become workshops for religious pluralism.
OCG 2.0 is slated to launch late next year and is made possible by a generous grant from the Lilly Endowment, Inc. If you have worked with earlier editions of On Common Ground, the Pluralism Project would like to hear your On Common Ground story. How did you, your community, and/or your classroom utilize this resource? We invite you to share your thoughts with the Pluralism Project by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org or contacting us through Facebook. Want to stay “in the know” on OCG 2.0 updates? Follow us on Twitter @pluralismproj.
Let your story be part of 2.0.
Whittney Barth is the Assistant Director of the Pluralism Project at Harvard University