Boston Children’s Museum Receives Lilly Endowment Grant to Explore Religious Literacy

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The Museum Partners with Harvard Divinity School to Promote Understanding About Religions and Identity

This project will help us better understand how children and families think about religion and its role in their lives and guide the Museum in how it can provide a welcoming environment for sharing, understanding, and affirming a multiplicity of world views.

Boston Children’s Museum has received a grant from the Lilly Endowment to conduct research into religious identity and spirituality in the context of the public experience of the Museum. The grant is funding explorations into ways to improve understanding of religions and foster knowledge and respect for diverse religious beliefs.

“Religion is already part of the fabric of the Museum,” said Leslie Swartz, Senior Vice President for Research and Planning, and the project’s leader at the Museum. “People of different faiths are welcome, present and visible at the Museum, reflecting the religious diversity of metropolitan Boston. This project will help us better understand how children and families think about religion and its role in their lives and guide the Museum in how it can provide a welcoming environment for sharing, understanding and affirming a multiplicity of world views.”

A core element of the research is the Museum’s partnership with the Harvard Divinity School’s Religious Literacy Project. The Museum and the Religious Literacy Project are conducting a seminar that explores how to foster practices that advance religious literacy relevant to Boston and children age birth through ten, their caregivers, and their educators. Divinity School students are conducting research into ways the Museum can foster curiosity and conduct meaningful and respectful conversations about the lived experiences of religion in our daily lives.

“I have long held the deepest respect for Boston Children’s Museum—as a parent, as an educator, and now as a partner,” said Diane L. Moore, director of the Religious Literacy Project. “The Religious Literacy Project is honored to support the Museum as it takes up the important task of integrating religious experience into its programming and approach. Religion has always been a vital part of our shared civic experience—shaping the lives of individuals, families, communities, and the wider world. Now, more than ever, we need fresh approaches to advancing the public understanding of religion—approaches that can spur children’s creativity and moral imagination toward building a more just and peaceful society. This partnership will advance that goal to the benefit of Boston and far beyond.”

The seminar conducted this spring includes eight students. The seminar will be followed by a full-time summer internship program (open to the seminar participants only) at the Museum that will build on the research conducted in the seminar.

About The Religious Literacy Project at Harvard Divinity School
The Religious Literacy Project at Harvard Divinity School is dedicated to enhancing and promoting the public understanding of religion. It provides resources and special training opportunities for educators, journalists, public health workers, foreign-service officers, interfaith/multi faith groups, students, and others wishing to better understand the complex roles that religions play in contemporary global, national, and local contexts. Learn more at rlp.hds.harvard.edu

About Boston Children's Museum
Boston Children’s Museum engages children and families in joyful discovery experiences that instill an appreciation of our world, develop foundational skills, and spark a lifelong love of learning. More information about Boston Children’s Museum can be found at BostonChildrensMuseum.org. Become a fan of the Museum on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

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Jo-Anne Baxter
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