Just as the University is encouraging students to go abroad, the Office of Religious Life is pursuing its interfaith agenda on a global scale, according to ORL Dean Alison Boden, who has organized and led five trips since coming to Princeton seven years ago. “We are growing the number of trips,” she said. “It’s complementary to the institution’s overall emphasis on more international experiences for students.”
In June five students will go to Ghana to examine the role of religion in its society by meeting with leaders of civil and religious communities there. Later, 10 students will spend two weeks in Thailand with the International Network of Engaged Buddhists — an organization that integrates the practice of Buddhism with social action — to learn about INEB’s leadership training for social-justice projects, and then travel to Myanmar (formerly Burma) to see how its work is put into action.
Under Boden, the ORL also has expanded its international focus through partnerships with the United Nations Population Council and the Social Science Research Council, a think tank in Brooklyn, N.Y., and last summer the ORL co-sponsored a conference in London that brought together about 25 faith-based and humanitarian-aid organizations to demonstrate how working together can increase their effectiveness.
Although the international trips are “very much interfaith in focus,” Boden said students go for a variety of nonreligious reasons. Some are interested in the environmental issues of the countries being visited. Others may have family that came from the region. Many simply appreciate the opportunity to get a “window into issues in a totally different part of the world,” Boden said.
No more than 20 students are accepted per trip. Financial aid is available.