Department issues Statement of Shared Values

UNC Charlotte

Department of Religious Studies

Statement of Shared Values

We, the faculty of UNC Charlotte’s Department of Religious Studies, strive to help students understand the complex histories and lived realities of religious traditions; to remember that no religious tradition is a single, monolithic reality; and to avoid making broad, sweeping judgments about any large group of people. Not only are these the best practices of the academic study of religion, but, as scholars of religion, we are keenly aware of the devastating and catastrophic harm that occurs when people fail to abide by them. We share the concerns of our professional organizations, such as the American Academy of Religion and the Society for Biblical Literature, that failure to understand and interpret religion, religious history, and religious identity thoughtfully hinders the free exchange of ideas, distorts public understanding of religious traditions and religious difference, threatens the safety and well-being of faculty and students, and undermines the basic values of the educational mission of the modern university.

As employees of UNC Charlotte, we are committed to developing a “robust intellectual environment that values social and cultural diversity, free expression . . . and mutual respect” (University Mission Statement).  As faculty in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, we work to build “a culture of intellectual and personal inclusion that . . . provides the means for understanding and negotiating the range of perspectives, experiences, and traditions essential to living ethically in an interdependent global culture’ (CLAS Mission Statement). This requires us to help our students understand the rich, vibrant history of Islam, along with a wide array of other religious traditions—along with their on-going contributions to American and global culture.

As employees of the state of North Carolina, we are prohibited from using the authority of our positions or the funds and supplies of the university to support or oppose any political candidate or issue, but as scholars of religion dedicated to providing exemplary undergraduate and graduate education and addressing the needs of the Charlotte region, we are obligated to use our classrooms and our scholarship to help our students and other audiences understand how to engage the reality of religious diversity well and the terrifying consequences of doing it poorly.