Students looking to connect with various religious communities throughout North Philadelphia will soon have a helpful tool, thanks to the Mapping Spaces of Meaning project at Temple University (PA). An online interactive map that’s in progress will highlight religious diversity to help students easily find faith-based spaces.

The project is a partnership among students, faculty, Institutional Diversity, Equity, Advocacy and Leadership, and the Dialogue Institute at Temple. They’re using a $5,000 grant from the religious diversity non-profit Interfaith America to fund the project, reported The Temple News.

Four students who have been trained by the Dialogue Institute on how to discuss faith with their peers are reaching out to students to help identify meaningful spaces. They’re also collecting survey responses about other spaces to consider, according to the paper.

In addition, the student workers are talking with members of the community to better understand religious spaces. One told the News they believe the project can help form a stronger relationship with the community.

“It’s a really powerful thing to be able to ‘re-narrate’ our communities because it helps us to see things through a different lens, a different perspective,” David Krueger, executive director of the Dialogue Institute and a leader on the project, told the paper. “Helping students to notice what’s in their environment, to be able to notice the layers of history that is around them, the layers of meaning that generations of people have projected onto these different places and sites, I just think it’s a really powerful thing.”

“This project is designed to accept the voices of this generation of students and incoming students,” Ariella Werden-Greenfield, chair of Temple’s Interfaith Council and a Mapping Spaces of Meaning project leader, told the paper. “As our campus community grows and changes, this project will document the way that these spaces are being utilized and also continue to tell the story of how they’ve been utilized historically. And so the hope is, again, that we have created a first step towards telling the story of everyone on campus.”

This is a project in progress, with organizers hoping it will become a long-lasting, ever-evolving tool for the institution.

Source: The Temple News, 4/15/24

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