FAQ’s: Frequently Asked Questions of the Center (7.1.22) 

 

What is our history or background?  

The Center for Ecumenical and Interreligious Engagement (CEIE) at Seattle University began in the Office of the Provost at Seattle University on July 1, 2021. With the announcement of the closure of the School of Theology and Ministry at SU, scheduled for June 2023, the university saw an opportunity for this new Center to evolve and expand its reach by focusing on the university’s five-decade commitment to ecumenical and interreligious work.    

 

What is our purpose?  

The Center for Ecumenical and Interreligious Engagement today is outward facing and committed to providing educational resources for local communities and university students, through our biannual scholarship series, in our webinars, within public gatherings around relevant topics to our day, and in the work of our theological laboratory (the Religica Theolab), which hosts a thriving podcast series with national and international partners, including the Parliament of the World’s Religions, Church World Service, and the United Nations Environmental Program Faith for Earth Initiative.  Our plans include working in unison with the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities on topics of shared interest as well.   

 

Where are we headed this year?  

The Center (CEIE) is led by a core team that includes an Advisory Council along with leaders and influencers who bring executive and grassroots-level experience from the region and around the world. Starting in July 2022 – In our second year, CEIE will work with all partners to assess our mission, refine audience, clarify operational priorities, strategize for the coming three years, and work with allies and partners from colleagues in Jesuit Universities to those primary ecumenical partners, including the National Council of Churches in the United States.    

This year CEIE is developing a Religious Fluency non-credit bearing certificate course, scheduled to begin in the coming academic year (February 2023).  The course is being developed with key university colleagues and in collaboration with the oldest interreligious organization of its kind in the world – the Parliament of the World’s Religions.   

CEIE is also concluding its new study with scholars from numerous fields of interest.  The study – on the subject of ‘gratitude, injury and repair in a pandemic age,’ will be releasing a published book.  CEIE was invited to present the findings at a conference taking place at our cousin Jesuit university - Portal Pontificia Universidad Javeriana, and through the auspices of Church World Service at the United Nations High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development, titled Reimagining Our World and Future Together, in the summer, 2022. 

This academic year, CEIE is planning numerous webinars and workshops for public use.  Please view the CEIE website for further information. 

 

Who is our target audience?  

Our audience is four-fold. While these are large groups spanning many age ranges and competencies, the unifying thread of these audiences is a desire to engage in work that responds to the needs of the world, with CEIE providing the generative energy for this engagement.  

  • The University Community: This includes staff, faculty and both undergraduate and graduate students, with attention to the current SU Strategic Directions.  This year, the Center scholarly project includes 40% of SU faculty from multiple disciplines; we also draw upon faculty and staff in our Seeking Wisdom Series; we will interview students for sharing podcasts; and we are curating a forthcoming Canvas resource on the interreligious response to a changing climate.  
  • Jesuit Colleges and Universities: The Center will honor the Ignatian commitment to religious literacy affirmed in its General Congregation 34 and deepen relationships with these national and global colleagues.  
  • Ecumenical and Interreligious Partners: From local to international contexts, the Center is collaborating in the creation of resources and opportunities that address societal challenges and is assisting religious leadership (including pastors and spiritual leaders) in helping their own communities.  We recently created a guide with help from the United Nations Environment Program, Parliament of the World’s Religions, and the Yale Forum on Religion and Ecology called Faith for Earth: A Call for Action 
  • The Nones and Somes: The Center’s theological laboratory Religica tests messaging that helps reach a population that either none-or-some of the time, are connected to a religious community or heritage, sometimes referred to as “spiritual but not religious.” The Religica Theolab is a mechanism for exploring the popular role of religion and wisdom traditions in the world, especially for connecting young generations with theology. 

 

Did I hear you are hosting new certificate programs?   

Yes.  CEIE is approved in December 2021 to begin the planning for creating and administering a thriving certificate program.   

CEIE is committed to teaching and learning in the areas of theology and ministry, bringing forward in new ways the core features of this inspiration that was historically carried by the School of Theology and Ministry, and predecessor bodies. CEIE is currently planning certificate programs that will serve a range of student populations, and these certificates will be presented in partnership with a new unit at the university dedicated to assisting this purpose.    

The new non-credit bearing certificate programs will offer flexibility and versatility for a wide range of students, including university alumni, those currently serving in ministerial roles, those seeking formational theological knowledge for use in their community, and those aiming to develop new ministerial capacities (for instance, in spiritual direction). 

 In consultation with our STM Student and Alumni Discernment Circle for CEIE, CEIE will begin exploring themes and topics such as: Lay Ministry in a Catholic Context, Marginalized Communities and Being Church, Ecumenical Ministry in a Challenging Age, Religious Literacy, and more. To facilitate certificate development, CEIE also convenes scholars and practitioners and is creating relevant curriculum and audio and video resources for further refinement in its certificate programs. 

 

Key takeaway:  

The Center highlights spiritual and religious insight and wisdom, inviting people to enact the change they wish to see in the world. We do this through ecumenical and interreligious dialogue, scholarly projects, engaging with the needs and issues alive for our target audience, and free resources for community and classroom use. In the future, we envision annual programming for in-person and virtual gatherings and educational opportunities.  

 

What is the Center up to now?    

  • Enacting our strategic trajectory for Certificate Programs for the years ahead.  
  • Fulfilling the many aspects of our current Henry Luce Foundation Grant, which is dedicated to seeking new ways of communicating theology to a new generation  
  • Creating educational online resources for use in classroom and community  
  • Concluding our current scholarly project, focused upon a response to ‘gratitude, injury and repair in a pandemic age.’    
  • Collaborating in peer-reviewed publications on major Center study themes.
  • Interviewing religious influencers around the world for podcasts in our Religica Theolab 
  • Developing web and social media interfaces during this Listening Year 
  • Utilizing focus groups, the Advisory Council, Center Scholars & Fellows, social media engagement, and exploring multiple modalities to increase our ability to listen   
  • Curating new experiences/deliverables that show how the Center is responding 
  • Planning strategically for the future of the Center’s consistent and comprehensive engagement  

 

Can I Make a Suggestion?  

Yes! The CEIE team welcomes your insights and creative suggestions. Reach out to our Director Dr. Michael Reid Trice at tricem@seattleu.edu or to the Center Team at thecenter@seattleu.edu.   

 

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The Religica Theolab

The Center for Ecumenical and Interreligious Engagement includes our own theological laboratory: The Religica Theolab.