Academic Programs 

Dialogue in a World of Difference   (MA-530)
Fall 2007

A required course for all students enrolled in the Master of Arts degree program. Students and faculty in a collegial setting will explore in depth the principles and the practice of dialogue in a pluralistic world through dialogical listening and cross-cultural conversations in a context of diversity. Goals of the course include the development of listening and communication skills in multi-cultural contexts; fostering an understanding of one another through information sharing and community building action; and learning how to discuss potentially divisive issues constructively and without animosity. This course is graded on a Pass/Fail basis.

Meeting Day, Time and Dates: 
Tuesdays from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m., beginning September 11 (10 weeks)

Heidi Hadsell
Professor of Social Ethics

Contact Information:
(860) 509-9502

David Roozen
Professor of Religion and Society

Contact Information:

phone: (860)509-9546

Suendam Birinci
Adjunct Instructor in Interfaith Dialogue and Ph.D. student at Hartford Seminary

Contact Information:
(860) 509-9500

UNDERLYING COURSE ASSUMPTION: This is more than a course about dialogue.

It is an invitation to engage in the practice of dialogue in a structured setting and thereby to develop the appreciative capacities that, among other things, will enable you to take maximum advantage of the diversity of students you will have in classes throughout your Hartford Seminary experience. Course outcomes focus on what is learned in the process.

• A sense of collegiality and community across religious, cultural, gender lines
• An experientially grounded understanding of the principles of interfaith dialogue
• The ability to participate meaningfully and constructively in multi-cultural and interfaith conversations and learning
• The critical, intellectual capacity to address substantive issues from a dialogically appreciate perspective
• A familiarity with a broad spectrum of Hartford Seminary faculty

• Complete assigned reading in preparation for the class session for which it is assigned
• Participate fully in class discussions and activities. Timely and regular attendance is especially important, as is familiarity with the assigned reading
• The nature and quality of classroom discussion is critical and include the expectations of
- Sharing openly and respectfully
- Empathetic listening (listening with an intention of hearing and understanding the others’ perspectives)
- Creating and sustaining a safe space for open and beneficial conversations, including respecting the confidentiality of what is said in class and posted on the online discussion board!
• Attend and observe two worship services, first a worship at your regular place of worship in the U.S., and second, a worship in a faith tradition other than your own.
• Timely and regular posting of the journaling assignments; and timely submission of your worship reflection paper.



Primary course readings will consist of papers, book chapters and excerpts assigned by guest faculty for their respective sessions. These will either be available online or be made available to be copied in the library reserve section. Additionally, you should purchase Not Without My Neighbor: Issues in Interfaith Relations ( S. Wesley Ariarajah, Geneva: WCC Publications, 1999). We will read it in its entirety, with specific chapters assigned to different class sessions as we move through the course.


1) WEEKLY JOURNAL: Each student will write, and post to the online course discussion board weekly journal entries based on the week’s reading and class session, not to exceed 5, typed, single-spaced pages. Each student will be clustered with four other course participants with whom one’s journal postings will be shared, and to whose journal postings one will respond. These responses will offer careful reading, comments, ideas, and reactions to the journal postings. Typically, the reading and class session journal postings will be posted immediately after class; and responses during the ensuing week. Course professors will peruse the postings and responses both to track the timeliness of participation and to assess the course material’s engagement with students.

Each weekly entry should include:
• Session date, topic and reading assignment.
• Major points:
- Which confirmed/reinforced your pre-existing perceptions/perspectives.
- Which challenged/contradicted your pre-existing perceptions/perspectives.
- Entirely new insights and perspectives.
• Personal reactions to the readings: questions, affirmations, feelings and connections to one’s life.

Material must, obviously, be brief. Therefore a bulleted, semi-outline form is OK. For “Major points” section. The “Personal reactions” section should be in narrative form.

Access information and a brief introduction to the course discussion board will be provided during the September 18 class session.

2) REFLECTION PAPER ON WORSHIP OBSERVATION: A five-to-seven page, comparative reflection on your worship visits. You will receive a worship observation guide and briefing during the October 2 class session, and you will receive an outline for your comparative reflection paper. The reflection paper is due at the last class session, at which we will debrief your worship experience.

Session Outline

Session One: September 11 – Why Dialogue? Why Me?
Heidi Hadsell – Introduction to Interfaith Dialogue
Attend Bijlefeld Lecture: “Jesus and Muhammad: New Convergences,” Timothy
J. Winter,University Lecturer in Islamic Studies at the Faculty of Divinity,
University of Cambridge, England.

Session Two: September 18 – Religious Typologies and Theologies
David Roozen – Theologies of Other Religions
Reading Handouts:
Other Religions Are False Paths That Mislead Their Followers, Ajith Fernando
Other Religions Are Implicit forms of our Own Religion, Karl Rahner
Other Religions Are Equally Valid Ways to the Same Truth, John Hick
Other Religions Speak of Different but Equally Valid Truths, John b. Cobb Jr
Is the Pluralist Model a Western Imposition? Paul F. Knitter
Islam and Pluralism, Ashgar Ali Engineer
Not Without My Neighbor, Chapter 1

Session Three: September 25 – Models and Practices of Dialogue
Suendam Birinci – Ground Rules of Interfaith Dialogue
Guest Faculty: Jane Smith
Reading Handouts:
Ground Rules for Interreligious, Interideological Dialogue, Leonard Swidler
Encountering Each Other, Jane I. Smith
When Dialogue Goes Wrong, Jane I. Smith
Not Without My Neighbor, Chapter 2

Session Four:
October 2 – Worship and Dialogue
Guest Faculty: James Nieman & Sohaib Nazeer Sultan
Reading Handouts:
Mapping the Field of Ritual, Ronald L Grimes
Not Without My Neighbor, Chapters 3 & 7

Session Five: October 9 – Personal and Pastoral Issues in Interfaith Encounter
Guest Faculty: Ingrid Mattson
Reading Handouts: To Be Announced
Not Without My Neighbor, Chapters 4 & 6

Session Six: October 16 – History of (Dialogue or?) Christian-Muslim Relations
Guest Faculty: Ibrahim Abu-Rabi
Reading: To Be Announced

Session Seven: October 23 – Scripture and Dialogue
Guest Faculty: Uriah Kim
Genesis 37-50; Surah XII (Surat Yusuf) of the Qur’an
Entire issue (only 35 pages long) of The Student Journal of Scriptural Reasoning (Vol. 1, No. 1, October 2006): Online at --

Session Eight: October 30 – Comparative Theological Concepts
Guest Faculty: Kelton Cobb
Reading: To Be Announced

Session Nine: November 6 – Dialogue and Conflict: A Case Study
Guest Faculty: Mustata Khattab
Reading: To Be Announced
Not Without My Neighbor, Chapters 5

Session Ten: November 13 – Conclusion: Prayers of Supplication and Thanksgiving
Debriefing of Worship Experiences
Potluck Dinner: Sharing a Meal

Hartford Seminary  77 Sherman Street  Hartford, CT  06105   860-509-9500