Claremont Lincoln University New Interfaith Certificate Program Piloted by Arizona Tri-Faith Group

Share Article

Muslims, Jews and Christians take part in the university’s highly immersive and interactive online program.

News Image
Because of today’s growing diversity and integration across sectors, it is more important than ever for all of us to learn the key capacities to navigate differences.

Members of an Arizona mosque, temple and a church are feeling more energized about their interfaith outreach, having come together recently to take part in a rigorous and thought-provoking online certificate program offered by Claremont Lincoln University (CLU).

The Phoenix-area tri-faith group Salaam Chai Paradise is made up of members of the Islamic Center of the Northeast Valley, Temple Chai, and the United Methodist Church of Paradise Valley. Twenty-one members participated in the self-paced program to enhance their understanding of what interfaith is and to develop tools for navigating the infinite differences that separate us as human beings.

One participant, Maya Goldberg of Temple Chai, first experienced religious conflict as a Jewish girl growing up during World War II in what is now Croatia. Several of her uncles and cousins were sent to concentration camps. Her mother, a doctor, was retained to treat and care for Nazi children.

“That brought me to the idea of different religions and how horrible things can happen when people don’t know each other, understand each other, and when they want to raise themselves higher than anybody else,” she said. “One reason I enrolled in this program was to get to know people …when I see people as individuals I can relate and I can learn from them. I don’t have to accept all their thoughts and beliefs, but I can understand them and I see the humanity in each of us.”

Keith Sobraske, a member of the United Methodist Church of Paradise Valley, said the course provides a wider lens through which to view one’s own conscious and subconscious biases, similarities between cultures and beliefs, (including non-believers and those falling under the category of “spiritual but not religious”), and offered a broader context for greater understanding of current events and world affairs.

“This program is a doorway to see in fresh ways our own worldviews and faith traditions, to view other faith traditions with a spirit of openness, and to appreciate the complex interaction between religion, conscience, community, culture and conflict,” he said, adding that his church plans to invite members and the community-at-large to participate in courses and workshops using the online program and an accompanying facilitator’s guide provided by the university.

Azra Hussain, president and co-founder of the Islamic Speakers Bureau of Arizona, said her organization also plans to encourage members of the community to participate in the program as one of its interfaith learning opportunities. “It will be useful in everyday interactions with people of other faiths and cultures,” she said.

CLU offers two radically accessible, self-paced, customizable online certificates and individual courses that help people master the knowledge and skills required to better navigate and effect change in any diversely complex organization.

An entry-level certificate program in Interfaith Understanding features a one-hour free introduction followed by two 4-hour and three 2-hour required courses. The program is self-paced and enables learners to explore their own points of view in relation to others. It provides a working knowledge of histories, beliefs, practices and contemporary expressions of religious thought, and demonstrates differences and similarities in the way various traditions approach topics such as suffering, family life, marriage, death, and more.

The certificate in Navigating Interfaith is designed to offer faith leaders at the professional level a guided learning experience that examines historical and current interfaith landscapes in order to prepare them to engage in a diverse world. Courses range from Crafting Interfaith Narratives to Profiles in Interfaith Leadership. The program encompasses a self-paced course of student study that includes a one-hour free introduction, two 10-hour and two 7-hour courses, and a 10-hour capstone.

“The world is full of differences,” said interfaith scholar Dr. Stephanie Varnon-Hughes, Claremont Lincoln University Director of Cross-Cultural and Interfaith Programs. “Because of today’s growing diversity and integration across sectors, it is more important than ever for all of us to learn the key capacities to navigate differences.”

Unlike other interfaith programs that teach about religion, CLU’s interfaith certificates take a thematic approach to the topic: using interactive photos, text and graphics to draw the learner into an immersive exploration of the subject. It is mobile-friendly so it can be accessed virtually anywhere. Visit for a complete list of course offerings.

Claremont Lincoln University is a graduate institution that immerses students from around the world in a dynamic learning community, leveraging pluralistic perspectives to promote richer thinking toward transformation. Our mission is to put ideas and ideals into action, and our proprietary Claremont Core® methodology enriches the learning experience with mindfulness, dialogue, and collaboration, enabling learners across a variety of sectors to implement change for good. The university offers master’s degrees in Ethical Leadership, Interfaith Action and Social Impact, and Interfaith Certificates that bring the world's diverse landscape of traditions into better understanding.

Share article on social media or email:

View article via:

Pdf Print

Contact Author

Deniene Rivenburg
Claremont Lincoln University
+1 (714) 423-9753
Email >
Visit website