Pluralism in Practice: Case Studies of Leadership in a Religiously Diverse America
By: Elinor J. Pierce
Pluralism is an ethic for living together in a society as diverse as ours is today. This accessible collection of twelve case studies in pluralism in practice includes brief scenarios, framing questions, and updates on some of the key dilemmas and decisions we encounter in our multireligious encounters and lives. The book is an introduction to the case method created at Harvard University’s The Pluralism Project, inviting close reading, reflection, and discussion into the dilemmas and disputes of our multireligious society for people who are professionally or passionately involved in developing and fostering our multireligious future.
Each featured case study begins with a brief scenario. These scenarios, informed by the case method, serve as an introduction to the case text, including key questions to consider. An edited version of the (A) case study follows, bringing thick description and rich detail to each dilemma, and ending at the point of decision. This decision point structures the narrative, generates reflection, and energizes discussion as the reader pauses to consider an additional set of questions. This is followed by an edited version of the (B) case, which describes how the decision or dilemma was resolved. After each, the author provides an update on the protagonist and the specific problem they faced.
Elinor (Ellie) Pierce is the research director and lead case writer for the Pluralism Project at Harvard University. She co-edited World Religions in Boston: A Guide to Communities and Resources (1998), helped develop the film Acting on Faith: Women’s New Religious Activism in America (2005), and co-produced and co-directed the documentary Fremont, U.S.A. (2009). Ellie wrote “What is at Stake? Exploring the Problems of Pluralism” for the Journal of Interreligious Studies (2015), contributed a chapter on the case method to Interreligious/Interfaith Studies: Defining a New Field (Beacon, 2018), and wrote the chapter “Toward Leadership, Listening, and Literacy: Making the ‘Case’ for Interreligious Studies,” in the Georgetown Companion to Interreligious Studies (Georgetown, 2022). She earned her Master of Theological Studies degree from Harvard Divinity School.
Diana L. Eck has taught at Harvard since 1976. Since 1991, she has headed the Pluralism Project.