Faith students learn art of ‘intelligent disagreement’

The Cambridge Inter-Faith Programme is helping emerging religious leaders from around the world learn how to “live well with disagreement”.

The programme is part of Cambridge University’s Faculty of Divinity and brings together students from Islamic, Christian and Jewish backgrounds for three weeks of the summer to train in inter-faith education.

Students will scrutinise what coexistence means in practice by exploring the models each of the three faiths offer in terms of peaceful and serious engagement.

The programme acknowledges that the faiths are far from the same but it seeks to lay the ground for mutual understanding and friendship in a way that will help participants to turn their differences into fruitful faith leadership.

The sessions involve looking at passages from their respective sacred texts and sharing their thoughts on their contexts and significance.

Participants will also visit religious communities in Birmingham and London’s East End.

“The aim is to learn to live well with disagreement, or to disagree intelligently,” Dr Mike Higton, academic co-director with the programme, said.

“Coming to an agreement on theology, politics or any other subject is not our aim, nor is the creation of some sort of neutral middle ground.”

“What we can do is explore each tradition, and look for the forms of coexistence and friendship that are possible between traditions that remain distinct and different.”

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