Boniuk Institute Gala

The Future of Religious Pluralism

Boniuks with DesRoches and LeebronsOn the evening of October 4, 2023 the Boniuk Institute hosted a special event: The Future of Religious Pluralism: Setting an agenda for the next 10 years of research. This event was a celebration of the Institute’s past decade of work and the launch of our 10-year vision to understand the conditions that lead to religious discrimination and conflict and to promote religious tolerance both locally and globally.

“For the past decade, the Boniuk Institute has made great strides in developing community partners and educating people on the importance of religious tolerance and religious pluralism,” Rice University President Reginald DesRoches said in a welcome address. “Moving forward, the Boniuk Institute will elevate its role as a premier interdisciplinary research and scholarly institute where research and scholarship inform its outreach.”

The Boniuk Institute’s strategic plan includes new programs and initiatives that will bring scholars together to make new discoveries in the field of religion and to share that knowledge with relevant local, national, and global communities in accessible ways that promote change. “It’s a critical goal that in a world-class institution like Rice University there is groundbreaking research on both religious violence and conflict as well as pluralism and tolerance,” said Institute Director Elaine Howard Ecklund.

Rabbi Oren Hayon with Vicki GresikThe Institute’s new initiatives include multiyear global research efforts, global sponsorship of original research, annual conferences with scholars from different disciplines to encourage and reinforce the strength of scholarship in this critical field, and the funding of graduate and undergraduate scholars as well as postdoctoral fellows.

Locally, the Boniuk Institute will spearhead a biennial initiative to map the collective civic capacity of Houston’s numerous religious communities, including their ability and desire to do work that services the common good of the City of Houston. This study will seek to understand the extent to which Houstonians interact with people of faiths other than their own and the level to which healthy religious pluralism is present in Houston.

“Whether or not you are personally religious, it is important for you—for all of us, really—to understand how religion relates to societal health,” Ecklund said. “What helps communities work across religious boundaries to solve common social problems?

If you were unable to join us for this special event, we invite you to watch the remarks online (link).