Social Justice meets Interfaith understanding with uh, IID partnership collaboration will endow professorship, provide scholarships and add to diverse curriculum

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Interfaith dialogue in the interest of social work—that’s at the heart of a new partnership between the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work (GCSW) and the Institute of Interfaith Dialog (IID). Over the next three years, the IID will donate $990,000 to endow a professorship, provide scholarships and fund a conference for high school students that promotes peace and social justice.

“This partnership is unique in that it acknowledges the value of diverse exchanges in order for our students to become better social workers,” said Ira Colby, dean of the college. “We are eager to add this necessary dimension to our students’ experiences at the college.”

The IID is a national, nonprofit educational organization that brings communities together to promote compassion, cooperation and community service through interfaith dialogue and conversation. The organization’s leadership is primarily Turkish and Muslim. In addition to providing interfaith discussions and panels, the IID sponsors trips to Turkey.

“We are very excited about this opportunity to work with the college, and we hope unique contributions to peace and social justice will result,” said Y. Alp Aslandogan, vice president of IID in charge of academic programs. “We believe that faith communities around the world have a significant role to play in promoting peace and social justice. This partnership with the college will enable us to more effectively explore the positive roles world faiths can play in fostering peace, social justice and harmonious human relations in our local communities as well as globally.”

The partnership will bring a scholar from Turkey to the college as a visiting professor in Islamic studies and social work. An educational exchange also will allow professors from the college to teach in Turkey, and students to visit there.

“Our students will be able to travel to Turkey to study the social service system there—how children are cared for or how their healthcare system works,” Colby said. “Students will get a cross-cultural view of the differing social service structures.”

In addition, the partnership will fund the annual PeaceJam Youth Conference, an international program that brings hundreds of high school students to affiliated regions for workshops on non-violence and peace, under the direction of a Nobel Peace Prize Laureate. UH last hosted the event in 2006.

The partnership with IID is reflective of the kinds of collaborations in which the college engages to advance social, economic and political justice, and to advance knowledge for competent, ethical practice and leadership with diverse populations. The GCSW has partnered with the Nobel Women’s Initiative (NWI), housed at the college, whose
mission is supporting human and women’s rights around the world. Under the direction of laureate and distinguished visiting professor Jody Williams, the NWI is active around the world.

For more information on the UH Graduate College of Social Work, visit www.sw.uh.edu/main/home.php.

For more information on the Institute of Interfaith Dialog, visit www.interfaithdialog.org/.

About the University of Houston

The University of Houston, Texas’ premier metropolitan research and teaching institution, is home to more than 40 research centers and institutes and sponsors more than 300 partnerships with corporate, civic and governmental entities. UH, the most diverse research university in the country, stands at the forefront of education, research and service with more than 35,000 students.

For more information about UH visit the university’s ‘Newsroom’ at www.uh.edu/admin/media/newsroom.

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