International Summer School on Religion and Public Life
Explore the esteemed reviews and one-of-a-kind experiences shared below to get a taste of how powerful and meaningful the ISSRPL Summer School truly is.
Click to read Rahel Wasserfall’s article: Eating Together: The Hidden Story of the International Summer School on Religion and Public Life
Click the link below to hear an excerpt regarding the 2010 Summer School in Cyprus.
To read Nick Thorpe’s first hand account of the ISSRPL Summer School, as featured in the New York Times, click here.
The ISSRPL is an innovative program that provides insights and skills to community leaders of diverse religious, ethnic, racial and national backgrounds to facilitate their working together with those of different backgrounds, traditions and world views. Its members are people of all ages and walks of life who come from around the globe. The central premise of the program is that the challenge of peaceful coexistence is not advanced by downplaying the very real differences between religious, ethnic and national affiliations, but rather in increasing sensitivity to and respect for these differences while maintaining one’s own identity and simultaneously creating and exploring methods of living together with the other. The ISSRPL recognizes that this is a critical, if not the central challenge faced by all religious, ethnic and national groups in the rapidly integrating global community.
Fellows and Faculty
The primary focus of the summer school is an intensive two week residential program that is conducted in parts of the world where there is religious, ethnic and national conflict. Each summer school focuses on a particular issue or conflict. The participants have included fellows from Albania, Australia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Congo, Croatia, Egypt, France, Georgia, Germany, India, Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Macedonia, Netherlands, Nigeria, Pakistan, Poland, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkey, Uganda, United Kingdom, United States, and Uzbekistan. Among them have been high-school teachers and principals, civic leaders, rabbis, imams, priests, professors, attorneys, graduate students and members of the business community. The faculty is likewise diverse and is drawn from universities and NGO’s all over the world.
The first is a formal educational component consisting of daily classes offered by the faculty in the history, theology, sociology and psychology of the issue that forms the theme for the summer.
The second element consists of participant meetings with local leaders and activists involved in the issues being addressed during the particular summer school session, and visiting the relevant contemporary and historical sites in the location where the summer school is being held. The summer school has been conducted in Istanbul, Turkey; Stolac, Bosnia and Herzegovina; Jerusalem, and Jaffa, Israel; Sarajevo and Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina; Dubrovnik, Croatia; Boston, Massachusetts (USA); Birmingham, England; Nicosia, Cyprus. In 2011 the school will be held in Plovdiv, Bulgaria.
The third element is the shared experience of the group in studying together, visiting people and places together, reinforced and amplified by collective group reflection on its shared experiences. This is accomplished through facilitated discussions, inter-personal dialogue, participants’ writing exercises, as well as in the informal interactions of fellows and faculty spending two weeks studying, traveling, and sharing leisure time together.
The unique nature and power of this program—both for the fellows and the faculty—is to be found in addressing difficult issues with the combination of academic learning, the exposure to real and ongoing conflict situations, within the context of continuing personal interaction with others whose religious, political and/or cultural worldview might be quite different from one’s own.
The ISSRPL has convened summer school since 2003. With approximately 27 fellows who attend each year, there are over 200 alumni of the program. The ISSRPL is in the process of establishing communication mechanisms to enable the fellows and faculty to maintain their relationships after the completing of each summer school session. In this manner those affiliated with ISSRPL can share ideas and be of support and assistance to each other in meeting the ongoing challenges in their home communities.