How might schools play a role in encouraging or discouraging civil discourse across religious and political lines? The National Endowment for the Humanities announces a two-year project designed to explore these issues, housed in the Philosophy Department at Fresno State. The department has issued a call for papers for an inaugural conference for the program, which will take place October 13-15, 2011, and will be followed by an edited volume and a workshop for teachers on how to cultivate civility in an increasingly religiously diverse classroom environment. The call for papers reads:

The National Endowment for the Humanities is sponsoring a two-year project based in the Philosophy Department at Fresno State to research increased religious diversity in public schools.  This call for papers is for our inaugural academic conference, which will take place October 13-15, 2011, which will be followed by an edited volume and summer workshop for teachers including curricular recommendations.  In 1955 Will Herberg defined Religion in America as Protestant-Catholic-Jew following the successful integration of Catholic and Jewish immigrants.  Then the Immigration Reform Act of 1965 led to the arrival of thirty million new non-European immigrants.  In our classrooms we often remain ignorant about the traditions of our students, which include Islam, Sikhism, Hinduism, Pentecostal Christianity, Jehovah’s Witness, Latter-day Saints, and others.  How should teachers approach these new issues of religious diversity?  When are accommodations preferable to assimilation?  How can education improve our ability to solve shared problems across religious and political lines?  Must distant geopolitical conflicts be re-enacted on local school campuses?  In what ways can academics from multiple disciplines help K-12 educators to model civil discourse?  We seek paper proposals on: civility and religious tolerance; civil society and the public sphere; the First Amendment; religion and ethnicity; recent demographic changes; local case studies; and the role of History education and Literature education.  Please submit a CV and proposal (maximum of 500 words) to Dr. Andrew Fiala <> and Dr. Vincent Biondo <> before July 15, 2011.  We are able to provide a limited amount of financial support for travel, so scholars, teachers, students, and community members who would like to participate should include such requests with their application.