Higher Education Leaders Across the Country Selected as Senior Fellows for Religious Pluralism

March 11, 2020

The Aspen Institute and Interfaith Youth Core announce its 2020 Class of Senior Fellows for Religious Pluralism

Contact: Abbie Haug,
Program Assistant, Inclusive America Project
The Aspen Institute
Abbie.haug@aspeninstitute.org | (202) 464-4345

Washington, DC, March 11, 2020 – The Inclusive America Project (IAP) of the Aspen Institute and Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC) today announced their 2020 Senior Fellows for Religious Pluralism. Fellows in the inaugural program include recently retired senior college administrators, foundation heads, and other sector leaders with track records of concrete commitment to religious pluralism in higher education. They will work over the next two years to implement strategic ideas that advance religious pluralism across multiple dimensions of higher education and beyond. IFYC and IAP will gather the Senior Fellows one or two times per year for substantive and programmatic discussion related to issues of identity and religious diversity in higher education and related spheres.

The Fellowship program is founded on the concept that, while diversity work has become a cornerstone of American higher education, little attention has been paid to religious diversity. Yet, faith is a huge component of how individuals engage in civic life and our societies more broadly. Polite avoidance of discussion around faith and difference frequently leads to ignorance and fear about the current shifts related to religious demographics. One result is the shocking rise of faith-based bias crimes, especially on college campuses.

To prevent this type of polarization and ensure a strong civil society, colleges and universities can better prioritize the interfaith literacy of their students, thus graduating interfaith leaders who will be effective citizens and competent professionals well positioned to help America maintain a national commitment to religious pluralism. These Fellows aim to encourage educational institutions to view pluralism as key to their students’ overall education and wellbeing.

“The United States is the world’s first religiously diverse democracy. Given our levels of both religious diversity and religious devotion, it is imperative that faith be a bridge of cooperation rather than a barrier of division,” said Eboo Patel, Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC) Founder and President.

“Promoting religious pluralism is central to the purpose of the Aspen Institute, which is to create a free, just, and equitable society,” said Dan Porterfield, the Institute’s President and CEO. “The commitment these fellows have shown to advancing religious pluralism in higher education is a powerful example of how to make progress toward this goal.”

“As our country becomes increasingly diverse, the skillsets and experiences needed to thrive in a religiously diverse world are essential to cultivate in our next generation of leaders,” said Zeenat Rahman, Director of the Inclusive America Project.

View photos and bios for the 2020 Senior Fellows for Religious Pluralism here.

The 2020 Senior Fellow class includes:

  • José Antonio Bowen, Former President, Goucher College
  • Robert Franklin, President Emeritus, Morehouse College
  • Leo Lambert, President Emeritus, Elon University
  • Earl Lewis, Director of the Center for Social Solutions, University of Michigan; President Emeritus, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation
  • Jane Dammen McAuliffe, President Emerita, Bryn Mawr College
  • Janina Montero, Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Emerita and Senior Advisor, UCLA
  • Michael Galligan-Stierle, former president, Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities
  • Carol Geary Schneider, President Emerita, AAC&U
  • Carl Strikwerda, former president, Elizabethtown College

In addition to in-person gathering(s), IFYC and IAP staff will work with Senior Fellows to implement strategic ideas that advance religious pluralism across multiple dimensions of higher education and beyond. Senior Fellows will provide invaluable strategic insight, advice, and advocacy within their spheres of influence on behalf of both IFYC and IAP. Simultaneously, they will benefit from meaningful involvement in driving impact around an issue they prioritize.


The Inclusive America Project, launched by the Aspen Institute in 2012, is a high-level project building and sustaining the field of religious pluralism. To make our vision of a thriving religious pluralism a reality, the Inclusive America Project is creating a national infrastructure of sustained networks and shared learnings across sectors. For more information, visitwww.aspeninstitute.org/programs/inclusive-america-project/.

Interfaith Youth Core is is a national non-profit working towards an America where people of different faiths, worldviews, and traditions can bridge differences and find common values to build a shared life together. For more information, visit www.ifyc.org/.

The Aspen Institute is a global nonprofit organization committed to realizing a free, just, and equitable society. Founded in 1949, the Institute drives change through dialogue, leadership, and action to help solve the most important challenges facing the United States and the world. Headquartered in Washington, DC, the Institute has a campus in Aspen, Colorado, and an international network of partners. For more information, visit www.aspeninstitute.org.


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