Nahdlatul Ulama, which is based in Indonesia and is the world?s largest independent Muslim organization, and Hartford Seminary, have signed an agreement for 10 Indonesian students per year to study at Hartford Seminary.
?I am delighted to have NU and the Indonesian government as partners,? Heidi Hadsell, President of Hartford Seminary, said. ?Their agreement to send students strengthens our commitment to prepare peacemakers and make a positive contribution to interreligious understanding. It also enriches the community of dialogue here on campus and in local faith communities.?
Five students will pursue a Master of Arts degree in Islamic Studies and Christian-Muslim Relations and five will participate in the International Peacemaking Program, which leads to a Graduate Certificate in Interfaith Dialogue or Islamic Studies and Christian-Muslim Relations.
The first students will start their studies in the fall. The agreement is for three years.
Indonesia?s Ministry of Education and Ministry of Religious Affairs will provide the financing for the students to attend Hartford Seminary.
?I would like to thank Alwi Shihab, our trustee, for working with us, NU and the government in Indonesia to reach this agreement,? Hadsell added.
Dr. Alwi Shihab is Vice Chairman for Labor Management, Indonesian Presidential TaskForce. Formerly he was Indonesian Coordinating Minister for People?s Welfare and Foreign Minister.
The Master of Arts degree in Islamic Studies and Christian-Muslim Relations is located in Hartford Seminary’s Duncan Black Macdonald Center for the Study of Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations. This center embodies Hartford Seminary’s 100-year commitment to the study of Islam, Christianity and their complex relationships throughout history and in the modern world.
The Seminary initiated the International Peacemaking Program (IPP) in 2004, recognizing the need for skilled peacemakers in countries where there is interreligious conflict. Students in the program, who are young religious leaders, spend an academic year perfecting their interfaith dialogue and leadership skills, as well as enhancing their public engagement and public speaking skills.
In addition to their formal studies, students are embedded in a local faith community where they experience American religious culture firsthand and where they serve as windows into their own countries, cultures and religious communities for the people in those congregations.
The agreement between NU and the Seminary also calls for a conference every other year, alternating between Hartford and Indonesia, that brings together students, alumni/ae, faculty and community leaders to take steps toward the development of a cooperative model for interfaith education.
In late 2011, Dr. H. Marsudi Syuhud, general secretary of NU, and Professor Dr. Said Aqil Siroj, general chairman, visited Hartford Seminary to initiate discussions that have led to the agreement.
NU funds schools, hospitals, and other institutions in Indonesia. It organizes communities in order to help combat poverty. NU manages 18,000 boarding schools from elementary to senior high school and 112 universities as well as 124 hospitals and other institutions. It has more than 40 million members.