The U.S. Department of Education’s Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, in collaboration with the White House Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, the Corporation for National and Community Service, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and the U.S. State Department, is hosting the fifth annual President’s Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge Gathering on Thursday and Friday, Sept. 10–11, 2015, at Howard University in Washington, D.C. The gathering will bring together more than 500 educators and students from 24 countries and six continents, including Ethiopia, Germany, Israel, France, Australia, Pakistan, India, Japan, New Zealand, Bangladesh, Guatemala, Peru, Canada, Lithuania, and Ireland. Over the two-day gathering, participants will learn from each other and share their experiences, successes, challenges, and best practices of interfaith service work in higher education.
On Thursday, the gathering will kick off at 11 a.m. ET. Brenda Girton-Mitchell, director of the U.S. Department of Education’s Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, will give opening remarks. U.S. Under Secretary of Education Ted Mitchell, Executive Director of the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships Melissa Rogers, and Howard University President Wayne Frederick will give remarks at the 1 p.m. ET, plenary, What Works in Interfaith/Community Service, which will be held in the Andrew Rankin Memorial Chapel. The presentation—Navigating Tensions Around Religious Identity on Campus—and a panel discussion will follow. Girton-Mitchell will moderate the discussion, including a question-and-answer session.
Later in the afternoon, there will be several breakout sessions: Issues That Matter to Students; Transforming Hate Into Knowledge, Engagement and Service; Peacebuilding Through Interfaith Service on Campus in Post-conflict and Conflict Zones; The Multi-Faith Movement: Global Risks and Cosmopolitan Solutions; Reaching Diverse Groups through Interfaith Community Service; and others.
Friday’s events will get under way at 9:30 a.m. ET, with the opening plenary, Going Global With Interfaith/Community Service. Rogers will moderate the question-and-answer session following the plenary. Later that morning and in the afternoon, breakout sessions will include the following: Complex Faith and Family Identities on Campus; Faith and Service: A Global Perspective; Focus on Social Justice: Catholic Social Thought, Education and Interfaith Engagement Around the World; Muslim and Christian Cooperative Social Action in Indonesia and Singapore; Who’s Engaged? Understanding Student Involvement With Interfaith Experiences; and others. Mitchell and Rogers also will host afternoon breakout sessions on possible ways the Obama administration can support interfaith community service across the globe.
Girton-Mitchell will give opening remarks during the closing plenary, Building in Hope A Post- 9/11 World. Secretary Castro and Acting Administrator of USAID Alfonso Lenhardt will give closing remarks.
The President’s Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge isan initiative inviting institutions of higher education to commit to a year of interfaith cooperation and community service programming on campus. The programming might take the form of diverse campus groups working together to implement a specific year-long service project or partnering with local religious groups to tackle a specific community challenge together.