Jay Phillips Center hosts panel for international journalists on "Interfaith Understanding"

September 18, 2017

On Sept 15, 2017, the Jay Phillips Center for Interfaith Learning at the University of St. Thomas hosted a private panel of local faith and interfaith leaders who spoke on “Instilling Faith and Interfaith Understanding.” The event was organized and sponsored by the East-West Center, an independent public non-profit organization, with headquarters in Honolulu and Washington, D.C., that  "promotes better relations and understanding among the people and nations of the United States, Asia, and the Pacific through cooperative study, research, and dialogue."

The panel audience was made up of 12 senior international journalists from Australia, India, Indonesia, Kuwait, Malaysia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, Tunisia, and the United States. These journalists make up a cohort for the East-West Center's 2017 Senior Journalists Seminar taking place September 6 – 29, 2017 with travel to Washington, D.C.; Minneapolis, Minnesota; Manila and Cotabato City, Philippines, and Rabat, Morocco. The Senior Journalists Seminar is an immersive 21-day dialogue, study, and travel program intended to enhance media coverage and elevate the public debate regarding identity and religion’s role in and resulting impact on the public sphere, specifically as it concerns U.S. relations with Muslim majority regions.

While in Minneapolis, the group met with religious and interfaith leaders, artists, public officials, members of the media, and law enforcement to experientially explore America’s multicultural and multi-religious society, the experiences of religious communities, interfaith initiatives, and how cultural and religious identity, experience, and diversity is expressed in the visual, performing, and media arts. Additionally, the journalists examine the political, military, and cultural engagement of American Muslims.

This panel, titled “Instilling Faith and Interfaith Understanding,” addressed the religious landscape of Minnesota and Minneapolis and how different religious communities in the area communicate and partner to educate the public, political leaders, and law enforcement agencies about religious tolerance. The four panelists were Rev. Dr. Curtiss DeYoung, CEO of Minnesota Council of Churches, Dr. Hans Gustafson, Director of the Jay Phillips Center for Interfaith Learning at the University of St. Thomas and adjunct professor in the College of Arts and Sciences, Randi Ilyse Roth, Executive Director of Interfaith Action of St. Paul, and Imam Dr. Tamim Saidi, Imam at Northwest Islamic Community Center and board member of Islamic Resource Group.

Photo above: A Senior Journalist tours the Gawad Kaling Housing Project, a faith-based community project in Manila, Philippines (© East-West Center).