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Student Interreligious Leadership Programs

Student Interreligious Leadership & Research Programs

The Interreligious Research Fellows program is a one-year program for St. Thomas students that allows them to design and implement an academically rigorous and closely mentored research project examining and engaging the encounter between, among, and/or within religious communities and people with various religious identities. The 2019-2020 IRF pilot program is supported by a generous grant from the Jay and Rose Phillips Family Foundation of Minnesota.

The Interreligious Encounter Leadership Cohort (THEO 228/468) is a four-credit theology core course spanning two semesters. It is designed for undergraduate students interested in examining the religious diversity of Minnesota while energetically cultivating interreligious learning, service and leadership on campus and in the community (on hiatus during 2020-2021).

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Jay Phillips Center

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Interreligious Research Fellows Program

student leader Mohamed Malim

01

Priority Deadline: April 30, 2020 

The Interreligious Fellows program is a one-year (two semester) program for UST students that allows them to design and implement an academically rigorous, closely mentored, research project that examines and engages the encounter between, among, and/or within religious communities and people with various religious identities (including secular, nonreligious, and spiritual worldviews and ways of life).

The 2019-2020 IRF pilot program is supported by a generous grant from the Jay and Rose Phillips Family Foundation of Minnesota.

Interreligious Research Fellows Program Overview

  • How to Apply
  • Eligibility and Expectations
  • Faculty Mentors
  • Research
  • Experiences
  • How to Apply

    To apply, please follow these steps:

    1. Review this webpage carefully. Consider scheduling an in-person or ZOOM meeting with cohort director, Dr. Hans Gustafson, to discuss your ideas, potential faculty mentors, and the application process by emailing him at hsgustafson@stthomas.edu. Before the meeting, you may identify potential faculty mentors and even begin to discuss your ideas with them.
    2. Work with your faculty mentor (and community partner if applicable) to develop a research proposal. If your proposal is a community-based project, work with the cohort director to communicate with the community partner.
    3. Submit your completed proposal template and application (buttons on the right of this page) along with other required materials (e.g., copy of your academic transcript) to the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program office by stated deadline.
    4. Make sure your faculty mentor submits a letter of endorsement by the stated deadline. If your proposal is a community-based project, ensure your community partner submits a letter of support for your project by the stated deadline.

    Eligibility and Expectations

    Student must:

    • have completed 32 credits;
    • be enrolled as a degree-seeking undergraduate student at the University of St. Thomas during the academic year in which you will be an Interfaith Research Fellow;
    • be able to devote 200 hours of work towards their project and cohort meetings over the course of the academic year (about 10 hours/week each semester, excluding J-Term).

    Faculty Mentors

    The Interreligious Research Fellows (IRF) program is an outstanding opportunity for faculty to mentor energetic and committed students for a year while earning a $750 stipend.

    Mentors are expected to:

    • provide guidance and oversee a year-long (about 200 hours) undergraduate research project;
    • set aside adequate time to hold substantive meetings with the student throughout the year to guide the student, assess the project's progress, address areas of concern, suggest subsequent academic activities, and direct the research in a timely manner;
    • provide feedback that is constructive, critical, clear, prompt, substantive, and developmental;
    • assist the scholar in preparation of an application for the Institutional Review Board (IRB), if the project entails working with human subjects;
    • assist the student in creating their final poster for Inquiry, and other application presentations or deliverables that promote the public understanding of (inter)religious encounter in some way (public presentation, video resource, workshop, website, report for community partner);
    • comply with IRF policies, deadlines, and expectations and be available to discuss project progress, and to alert of any hindrances, with the IRF cohort director (hsgustafson@stthomas.edu).

    Research

    Research Project

    Fellows will undertake research projects on topics that examine aspects of interreligious encounter, either historically and/or in the contemporary world. Their projects will engage local communities, have a constructive application, or promote the public understanding of religion or interreligious relations in a meaningful way. "Interreligious,” in the context of this program, is defined broadly to refer to encounters that take place (and relations that exist) between, within, and/or among groups with significant difference in worldview or lifeway (including religious, non-religious, and secular traditions).

    Community-Engaged Research (CEnR)

    Community-Engaged Research benefits a community organization, a specific population, and/or the community at large. They involve community partners in the design and implementation of research projects.

    Experiences

    Cohort Model

    Fellows will make up a small cohort that meets regularly during the academic year (J-term excluded), guided by the director of the Jay Phillips Center. 

    Leadership Development

    This program provides space for the cohort of fellows to reflect on the normative and self-implicating dimensions of researching interreligious encounter. This includes opportunities designed to recognize and cultivate various leadership competencies such as storytelling, capacity inventorying, vocational discernment, and others. Projects involving Community-Engaged Research also provide leadership opportunities from the community partner.

    How to Apply

    To apply, please follow these steps:

    1. Review this webpage carefully. Consider scheduling an in-person or ZOOM meeting with cohort director, Dr. Hans Gustafson, to discuss your ideas, potential faculty mentors, and the application process by emailing him at hsgustafson@stthomas.edu. Before the meeting, you may identify potential faculty mentors and even begin to discuss your ideas with them.
    2. Work with your faculty mentor (and community partner if applicable) to develop a research proposal. If your proposal is a community-based project, work with the cohort director to communicate with the community partner.
    3. Submit your completed proposal template and application (buttons on the right of this page) along with other required materials (e.g., copy of your academic transcript) to the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program office by stated deadline.
    4. Make sure your faculty mentor submits a letter of endorsement by the stated deadline. If your proposal is a community-based project, ensure your community partner submits a letter of support for your project by the stated deadline.

    Eligibility and Expectations

    Student must:

    • have completed 32 credits;
    • be enrolled as a degree-seeking undergraduate student at the University of St. Thomas during the academic year in which you will be an Interfaith Research Fellow;
    • be able to devote 200 hours of work towards their project and cohort meetings over the course of the academic year (about 10 hours/week each semester, excluding J-Term).

    Faculty Mentors

    The Interreligious Research Fellows (IRF) program is an outstanding opportunity for faculty to mentor energetic and committed students for a year while earning a $750 stipend.

    Mentors are expected to:

    • provide guidance and oversee a year-long (about 200 hours) undergraduate research project;
    • set aside adequate time to hold substantive meetings with the student throughout the year to guide the student, assess the project's progress, address areas of concern, suggest subsequent academic activities, and direct the research in a timely manner;
    • provide feedback that is constructive, critical, clear, prompt, substantive, and developmental;
    • assist the scholar in preparation of an application for the Institutional Review Board (IRB), if the project entails working with human subjects;
    • assist the student in creating their final poster for Inquiry, and other application presentations or deliverables that promote the public understanding of (inter)religious encounter in some way (public presentation, video resource, workshop, website, report for community partner);
    • comply with IRF policies, deadlines, and expectations and be available to discuss project progress, and to alert of any hindrances, with the IRF cohort director (hsgustafson@stthomas.edu).

    Research

    Research Project

    Fellows will undertake research projects on topics that examine aspects of interreligious encounter, either historically and/or in the contemporary world. Their projects will engage local communities, have a constructive application, or promote the public understanding of religion or interreligious relations in a meaningful way. "Interreligious,” in the context of this program, is defined broadly to refer to encounters that take place (and relations that exist) between, within, and/or among groups with significant difference in worldview or lifeway (including religious, non-religious, and secular traditions).

    Community-Engaged Research (CEnR)

    Community-Engaged Research benefits a community organization, a specific population, and/or the community at large. They involve community partners in the design and implementation of research projects.

    Experiences

    Cohort Model

    Fellows will make up a small cohort that meets regularly during the academic year (J-term excluded), guided by the director of the Jay Phillips Center. 

    Leadership Development

    This program provides space for the cohort of fellows to reflect on the normative and self-implicating dimensions of researching interreligious encounter. This includes opportunities designed to recognize and cultivate various leadership competencies such as storytelling, capacity inventorying, vocational discernment, and others. Projects involving Community-Engaged Research also provide leadership opportunities from the community partner.

    Interreligious Research Fellows (2020-2021)

    Key Personnel:

    Dr. Hans Gustafson, IRF Cohort Coordinator, Director of the Jay Phillips Center and Adj. Professor in Theology, College of Arts & Sciences, hsgustafson@stthomas.edu

    Laura Bru, Program Manager, Undergraduate Research Oppourtunities Program (UROP), Center for Student Achievement, laura.bru@stthomas.edu
    Kailey Corder headshot.

    Kailey Corder

    Listening to Love: An Inquiry into Interreligious Racial Justice Work Occurring within the Twin Cities

    Majors: Psychology and Justice and Peace Studies, Minors: Family Studies and Interfaith Leadership
    Project: Utilizing storytelling as a powerful tool for social change, this projects strives to listen to the stories of various religious leaders working towards racial justice within the Twin Cities and document the collective narrative of the city. Mentor: Michael Klein (Justice & Society Studies)

    Laila Sheikh headshot.

    Laila Sheikh

    The Coronavirus Pandemic and Religious Engagement: Mapping Interfaith Leadership in the Cedar-Riverside Neighborhood

    Majors: GIS and Environmental Studies Minors: Justice and Peace Studies
    Project: Utilizing GIS mapping software and ArcGIS Digital Story Maps to examine interreligious encounter and interfaith leadership in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood of Minneapolis, this project focuses on the ways the Coronavirus pandemic has impacted (inter)religious engagement and how religious leaders and interfaith student leaders have adapted their practices. Mentor: Paul Lorah (Earth, Environment, and Society)
    Dominique Stewart headshot.

    Dominique Stewart

    "Ye krik? Ye krak!" A Narration of Caribbean Identity through Interreligious Stories

    Majors: Actuarial Science, French, Minors: Interreligious Studies and Comparative Theology
    Project:This research examines Caribbean identity through interreligious encounters in West Indian francophone literature. I will be looking at how preservation of these encounters in oral and written narratives help us to understand what it means to be Caribbean. Mentor: Stephanie Lohse (Modern and Classical Languages)

    Interreligious Research Fellows (2019-2020)

    Key Personnel:

    Dr. Hans Gustafson, IRF Cohort Coordinator, Director of the Jay Phillips Center and Adj. Professor in Theology, College of Arts & Sciences, hsgustafson@stthomas.edu

    Laura Bru, Program Manager, Undergraduate Research Oppourtunities Program (UROP), Center for Student Achievement, laura.bru@stthomas.edu
    Grant Pederson headshot.

    Grant Pederson

    Influence of Muslim Philosophers on Duns Scotus' Christian Philosophy of God

    Majors: Philosophy and Classical Languages, Minors: Theology
    Project: This project examines the influence of Muslim philosophers Ibn Sina (Avicenna) and Ibn Rushd (Averroes) on the Scholastic Christian thinker John Duns Scotus, with a special focus on his philosophy of classical divine attributes. Mentor: Gloria Frost (Philosophy)

    Rabia Sheikh headshot.

    Rabia Sheikh

    Editing for the Abrahamic God: An Ethical and Religious Case for using CRISPR at the Embryonic Stage

    Majors: Biology, Minors: Chemistry
    Project: This project investigates how Jewish, Christian, and Muslim thinkers and scientists utilize their tradition’s sacred texts in determining ethical approaches and responsibilities for the use of gene editing tools such as CRISPR on adults, children, and embryos. Mentor: Kerri Carlson (Biology) and Paul Wojda (Theology)

    Dominique Stewart headshot.

    Dominique Stewart

    A Religious Rendezvous: The Encounter of Jamaican Hindus and Early Rastafari

    Majors: Actuarial Science, French, Minors: Interreligious Studies and Comparative Theology
    Project: This project explores the contact and exchange of the long-standing Hindu community in Jamaica with the early Rastafari movement and how its spiritualities contributed to the historical formation, and contemporary actualization, of the Rastafari concept of IyanI (“I and I”). Mentor: Ted Ulrich (Theology). Dissemination: paper presented at Regional American Academy of Religion Virtual Conference (4 Apr 2020).

    Interreligious Research Fellows Program – Important Documents