Union offers resources to build better understanding between faiths

This school year, Union College launched the Center for Interfaith Studies and Culture, a center devoted to educating Union College to better serve people of different faiths and to foster goodwill and understanding between the school and other faith groups.

On April 20, Doug Hardt, the center’s director will present an overview of the content and historical context of the Qu’ran at 4 p.m. in the Shawnee-Porter Care Conference Room at Union College.

Hardt’s lecture, “Introduction to the Qu’ran,” comes as part of Union College Library’s new Muslim Journeys series. The Ella Johnson Crandall Memorial Library was awarded the National Endowment for the Humanities’ Muslim Journeys Bookshelf back in January and is partnering with the CISC and Good Neighbor Center, a local organization working to empower people in the Lincoln community, to increase intercultural awareness. “I have been aware of the significant Muslim community in Lincoln for quite some time,” said Sabrina Riley, Union College Library director and associate professor of library science. “I see them at the park, at stores and other places around town, but I have no interaction with them and seldom hear any acknowledgement of their presence from anyone in the community. It is almost as if they are invisible to most Lincoln residents.”

Hardt’s presentation is the first in a series of events sponsored by the library encouraging members of the community to read and participate in discussions about themes represented in the Bookshelf. “I first saw the announcement for the Muslim Journeys Bookshelf about the time I became aware that Union College was interested in starting the Center for Interfaith Studies and Culture,” said Riley. “I immediately realized that this program would be an excellent complement the program.” 

The Bookshelf is a collection of scholarly and literary books, films and online resources designed to generate community discussion and understanding of Islamic history, art, literature, religion, contemporary points of view and the immigrant experience in America. “I hope that the Bookshelf and associated programs will increase Lincoln residents' understanding of a minority culture that is well represented in this city,” said Riley. “I hope that they will foster positive conversations and even perhaps new friendships.”

The Shawnee-Porter Care Conference Room is located in the Ortner Center on the campus of Union College, 3800 S. 48th Street. The presentation is free and open to the public. A complete list of resources included in the Bookshelf is available at here and on Pinterest.

The Union College library offers community borrower cards to residents of Lincoln who provide two forms of ID verifying the patron’s current address (one ID should include a photograph).