All Diversities But One: Why American Universities Put Religion Aside

Diversity has become a prime goal in the world of higher education. How did religious diversity get left out of the mix?

August 18, 2021 | Jon D. Levenson
About the author: Jon D. Levenson is the Albert A. List Professor of Jewish Studies at Harvard University and the author of Inheriting Abraham: The Legacy of the Patriarch in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam (Library of Jewish Ideas; Princeton University Press).

The Duke University Chapel on January 27, 2018 in Durham, North Carolina. Lance King/Getty Images.

Throughout American society, but especially in the world of higher education, diversity has become a prime goal. Almost always, the diversity so eagerly sought is one of race, gender, and sexual orientation. Diversity of religious affiliation is, by contrast, almost never even considered. Some may wish to remedy the omission simply by adding religion to the standing list of key variables. The truth, however, is more complicated. For the way in which an educational institution thinks about religious groups and their distinctive worldviews touches upon the deeper issue of the nature and goals of education in general and upon the mission of individual educational institutions in particular.

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