Discover the Vibrant Tapestry of Religious Diversity in Indianapolis with the High-Impact Community Engagement Practices Grant

pexels-photo-1024900-1024900.jpgIndianapolis, known for its vibrant culture and diverse communities, is about to become the classroom for a creative educational initiative funded by Community-Engaged Alliance High-Impact Community Engagement Practices (HICEP) Grant. This project, spearheaded by Dr. Kelly Hayes, Associate Professor of Religious Studies at Indiana University Indianapolis, transcends traditional boundaries of learning by engaging students in immersive experiences within the city's rich tapestry of religious communities.

From August 2024 to December 2024, students will embark on a journey of discovery, visiting various religious sites across the Indianapolis area. From Hindu and Tibetan Buddhist temples to mosques and synagogues, students will immerse themselves in the practices and beliefs of diverse faith communities. Through these site visits, they'll gain firsthand insight into the beliefs, rituals, and traditions that shape the fabric of Indianapolis' religious landscape.

But the learning doesn't stop there. Following each visit, students will delve deeper into their experiences, crafting insightful field reports that analyze the nuances of each community they encounter. These reports serve not only as a reflection of personal growth but also as a valuable tool for understanding the complexities of religious diversity in our city.

This project’s emphasis on community engagement is evident throughout the project’s design. After gaining a comprehensive understanding of various religious traditions, students will collaborate with one of these communities on a community-engaged learning activity. Whether it's organizing a cultural event, volunteering at a local charity, or participating in interfaith dialogue, students will have the opportunity to put their newfound knowledge into action, fostering meaningful connections with the communities they've studied.

But why is this initiative so appealing? For starters, it integrates multiple high-impact practices into a single course, providing students with a holistic learning experience. By combining elements of a common intellectual experience, undergraduate research, and community-based learning, the project equips students with invaluable skills and perspectives that extend far beyond the classroom.

Moreover, this initiative addresses a pressing need for greater understanding and appreciation of religious diversity. As one of the most religiously diverse cities in the Midwest, Indianapolis serves as the perfect backdrop for this exploration. By fostering dialogue and understanding among students, faculty, and community members, the project aims to promote inclusivity and tolerance in our increasingly interconnected world.

Dr. Hayes envisions a sustainable future for this transformative course redesign. By assessing student learning outcomes through a pre- and post-civic-minded student scale, she ensures that the impact of the HICEP Grant extends far beyond the project's timeline. Year after year, students will continue to benefit from this immersive educational experience, gaining a deeper understanding of themselves and their community in the process.

In higher education, initiatives such as this hold immense promise. By embracing diversity, fostering dialogue, and empowering students to become agents of change, Dr. Hayes is paving the way for a brighter, more inclusive future—one class at a time.

To learn more about HICEP grant and other funding opportunities at Community-Engaged Alliance visit our grants webpage.

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