Building on Utah State University’s principles of community, the Division of Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion is hosting its first Religious Inclusive Excellence Symposium — a continuation of the fifth annual Inclusive Excellence Symposium. All university community members are invited.
“With the Inclusive Excellence Symposium, we’re always trying to identify and recognize excellence in our own university system, but there are so many things that we’re not able to highlight in one week,” said Isaiah Jones, the senior director of Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion. “We’re looking to build on its foundation by offering this symposium focused on belief systems.”
The symposium has been designed as an educational event to facilitate learning by exploring ethical and moral systems from various perspectives, even outside of organized religions. Patrick Mason, a professor of religious studies and history at USU, is one of the presenters for the symposium.
“In the national conversation about diversity, equity, and inclusion, religion is often neglected entirely — or worse, seen as a problem that needs to be solved or eliminated,” he said. “Here at USU we have the opportunity to think differently about the complex ways that religion often informs personal and community identities, as well as the ways that it intersects with other categories such as race, gender, sexuality, and nationality. I’m genuinely excited about the conversations that will begin at the upcoming Religious Inclusive Excellence Symposium.”
And Jones hopes the conversations at the event are just the beginning.
“People have sincerely held beliefs about everything,” he added. “The goal is to go from a space where we don’t talk about our beliefs, whether they’re religious or otherwise, to increasing the sense of belonging on campus so we can have these conversations in a respectful way and build stronger communities, which goes along with our division mission and the university’s principles of community.”
The principles of community at USU emerged to support the institution’s commitment to excellence, access, and inclusion as a land-grant university — including the commitment to freedom of expressions and respectful dialogues while celebrating differences in values and beliefs, backgrounds, and cultures. A key part of this mission is building a common language so those having these conversations are better able to understand and communicate their ideas respectfully.
Similarly, the symposium is in accordance with USU policy 403, which states, “The university is operated for the common good which depends upon the free search for truth and its free exposition. Academic freedom is essential to these purposes and applies to teaching, research, and service… In addition, the university community values individual rights and freedoms, including the right of each community member to adhere to individual systems of conscience, religion, and ethics. Finally, the university recognizes that with all rights come responsibilities.”
The Religious Inclusive Excellence Symposium will be held in the Eccles Conference Center on Nov. 30-Dec. 1, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., with the option to attend on Zoom. Registration is open now, and more about the speakers can be found here.
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