Professor Lee and Dr. Mary C. Boys, Professor of Practical Theology at Union Theological Seminary, taught and advised on educating for religious pluralism in a highly diverse educational environment.
Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC - JIR) Professor Sara S. Lee recently traveled to Hong Kong to advise the faculty of Hong Kong International School (HKIS) about inter - religious learning and pluralism. She took this trip with Dr. Mary C. Boys, Professor of Practical Theology at Union Theological Seminary, New York, with whom she has worked extensively for the past 18 years, in breaking down boundaries between the Catholic and Jewish communities. They were invited in recognition of their expertise in teaching and advising on these topics.
HKIS, a private Christian school, founded by educators of the Lutheran tradition and currently serving a diverse religious and cultural student body, invited the two scholars as part of their Charles W Dull Visiting Scholar Series. They discussed the work they have done in promoting pluralism and understanding across religious boundaries.
The two scholars led important discussions in key areas relating to talking across the boundaries of religion. They also examined how the school could be faithful to its origins as a Christian school in the Lutheran tradition while remaining committed to advancing religious pluralism.
Discussing the trip, Prof. Sara S. Lee said:
“Being invited as a Charles W Dull Scholar was a great honor for me and HUC - JIR, creating links with an organization that is seeking to balance educating both for religious particularity and religious pluralism. It not only affirmed my commitments but also reflected those of HUC - JIR.
“I was able to speak from the perspective of a Jewish professional interested in educating Jews in their own tradition, while preparing them to speak across religious boundaries.
“Through seminars, workshops and discussions, we demonstrated to the faculty of HKIS how they might move toward meeting the ideal of promoting and retaining the commitment to a religiously pluralistic educational program. For example, we guided the faculty through an exploration of how to teach a central Christian idea such as resurrection while grounding it in its Jewish theological roots. In this way faculty can illuminate the relationship between Christianity and Judaism for students.
“As a Jewish professional this trip was interesting because of the way the school has attempted to affirm its Christianity while also placing strong emphasis on practicing religious pluralism. This same effort is also being undertaken by Jewish schools that seek to celebrate their Judaism while teaching pluralism and is a great educational challenge for every religious tradition.
“We often find ourselves speaking about religious pluralism, but many people do not realize how this resonates in everyday life. The HKIS experience has shown that it is essential if institutions and people are to learn from each other, improve and move toward their highest aspirations - educating students that every tradition contributes to the peace and well being of society.”
NOTES TO NEWS EDITORS
1. Hong Kong International School (HKIS) is a 2,500 pupil private Christian school. It serves a body of pupils from across the world including Britain, USA, Australia, China, Europe and Asia. The student body encompasses a number of religions including the Christian, Jewish, Islamic Buddhist and Hindu traditions.
2. The Charles W Dull Visiting Scholar Series was established in 2000 by HKIS. It is intended to draw together faculty, parents, students and visiting scholars to discuss issues around spirituality, global life and culture and education.
3. Prof. Sara S. Lee is Director of the Rhea Hirsch School of Education and Adjunct Professor of Jewish Education at HUC - JIR in Los Angeles.
4. Dr. Mary C. Boys has been a member of the Sisters of Holy Names for over 30 years and is Skinner and McAlpin Professor of Practical Theology at Union Theological Seminary, New York.