Assistant Professor of Religion Kevin Minister, Ph.D., will embark this month on a four-week trip to Senegal in order to learn more about religion and diversity in West Africa. In April, Dr. Minister was accepted to the Fulbright-Hays Seminars Abroad Program to Senegal, which will be conducted by the Boston University African Studies Center.
“This seminar will give me the opportunity to learn firsthand about religious diversity and cooperation in Senegal,” said Minister. “When I return, I will design academic experiences that help Shenandoah students better understand religion in West Africa as part of our university’s mission to create global citizens. I am most excited to observe how Muslim, Christian and indigenous communities in Senegal are working to promote environmental sustainability, and to incorporate that knowledge into my course on Religion and Ecology in the fall.”
The seminar will consider why religious and identity-based conflict has arisen in some countries, and the ways that Senegal has been able to maintain relative social harmony. Academics, religious leaders and activists from diverse disciplines and organizations will introduce the region’s history, review its three main religious traditions, discuss the unique cultures of various ethnic groups, and explore the sources of social conflict and harmony.
These lectures will be combined with visits to mosques and churches, historic, cultural, and political sites, civil society groups, universities and nature preserves. The seminar will be based at the West African Research Center in Dakar, but the group will also travel to Gorée, St-Louis, Touba, Djiloor and Toubacouta in Seereer Country and Ziguinchor and Cap Skirring in Casamance.
Seminar participants will develop an understanding of the diversity that exists in West Africa, why it sometimes inspires conflict, and how it can be a social resource. The seminar will explore Senegal as a diverse society with peaceful ethnic and religious coexistence. Participants will gain particular insight into the expressions of Islam, Christianity and indigenous religions and how they interact in the region as well as broad knowledge about the country of Senegal to integrate into their classes and share with their colleagues and communities.
The Seminars Abroad Program is administered by the U.S. Department of Education’s International and Foreign Language Education office, Office of Postsecondary Education, in cooperation with the U.S. Department of State.