Diana Eck, professor, interfaith educator and author, to retire after 49 years at Harvard

- through Henry Oudin

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Taken from religionnews.com

Dr. Diana Eck, a Ph.D. She holds a doctorate in comparative religious studies from Harvard University and has taught at Harvard for 49 years, announced that she will retire later this year. Throughout his career, Eck's work focused on interfaith education, embodied in the Harvard Pluralism Project, as well as Indian religions.

She is widely known for her efforts to educate people across America, not just those who take her classes at Harvard. Reflecting on the hardest thing she has faced, Eck said:

I think the hardest part was realizing that although we — I and my students — have been very involved in trying to improve the ways in which people in our society come together — in interfaith initiatives, interfaith councils, interfaith projects, literally all over America," she said, "but to realize that despite our view of the importance of this, there are a lot of people today who are still very surprised that all these foreigners are here with us and, deep down, would all like to go home.

(Religious press service)

The Pluralism Project, created by Eck in 1991, aims to study and interpret religious life in America. It provides in-depth accounts of the history, beliefs, and current status of 17 religions or religious categories in the United States, including Buddhism, Taoism, Shintoism, Hinduism, and Confucianism.

In addition to creating a platform for public education, his work at Harvard inspired many others in their careers studying religion.

Jonathan Ebel, a religion professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, studied with Eck in the 1990s. He remembers how difficult it was to learn about religions in the field at the time: “C I was the one who had to open the Yellow Pages and look in C for churches because it turned out that's where almost all of these places were listed: Buddhist and Hindu temples. Sikh temples and mosques and gurdwaras. (Religious press service)

William Graham, a former student colleague who later served as dean of Harvard Divinity School, added: "Diana was superb in bringing her vision of a better understanding of the vast religious diversity of the United States as well as the diversity of talents of our university. students to build a sustainable base of research and ideas from which she could realize the project's objectives in a very tangible way. (Religious press service)

Taken from religionnews.com

Beyond interfaith work, Eck focused on the place of women in religion, inviting women of several faiths to Harvard in 1983 and again in 2003 to discuss "Women, Religion, and Social Change."

At a women's rally in New York after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Eck sought to comfort Muslims, Sikhs and others who were quickly becoming targets of retaliation. Beyond that, she hoped to reinvigorate efforts to educate the public about different religions.

“We can speak honestly about what is happening in our own community,” she said after meeting with the women in New York. “It's not something that researchers are going to be able to understand very immediately. » (Religious press service)

Most recently, Eck supported pro-Palestinian protests at Harvard, acknowledging the deaths of Israelis and Jews in the Hamas-led attack on October 7, 2023, but focusing on the enormous loss of life, especially thousands of children in Gaza. in the following months.

“When I look at the tents that were at Harvard Yard, I think the most dramatic part – and the part that I think students are most interested in – is a long canvas that extends basically from the door of the university all the way. path to the administration building, on which students have over the past months written the names and ages of people who were killed in Gaza,” she said. (Religious press service)

Among those credited with his work are Eboo Patel, founder and president of Interfaith America, and Simran Jeet Singh, executive director of the Aspen Institute's Religion and Society program. The two are among more than a dozen contributors to Pilgrimage, place and pluralism: essays in conversation with Diana Eck (Red Elixir 2024).

Patel described Eck as "perhaps the most influential figure in American interfaith work in the 1990s" and Singh added: "Professor Eck's sustained efforts demonstrate how scholars can use their expertise – from a place of care and compassion – to help make our world a better place. best place. » (Religious press service)

Eck said she hopes the Pluralism Project will continue to foster dialogue and engagement with religion in America.

“I think we've kind of got the ball rolling and we're going to try to keep what's on our website up to date,” she said. “People can use it, use it, build on it, teach from it, and all that until we become this utopian pluralistic culture.” » (Religious press service)

See more

Harvard Pluralism Project's Diana Eck retires after decades of research to promote dialogue (Religion News Service)

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Henry Oudin

Henry Oudin is a Buddhist scholar, spiritual adventurer and journalist. He is a passionate seeker of the depths of Buddhist wisdom, and travels regularly to learn more about Buddhism and spiritual cultures. By sharing his knowledge and life experiences on Buddhist News, Henry hopes to inspire others to embrace more spiritual and mindful ways of living.

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