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Drew University Institute for Emerging Leaders Summer Program a Success

Fostering intercultural and interfaith skills

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DUIEL faculty and students at the annual dinner celebration.

June 2024 – Drew University recently hosted the 2024 Drew University Institute for Emerging Leaders (DUIEL), an annual 10-day summer cohort to foster and sharpen the interfaith and intercultural skill of young leaders.

Students and recent alums from Drew’s College of Liberal Arts, Drew Theological School, and Drew’s Caspersen School of Graduates Studies, as well as several students from universities outside of Drew, gathered to participate in workshops, interfaith and intercultural engagement, related field trips, and a dinner celebration.

The program is organized by Jonathan Golden, Director of Drew’s Center on Religion, Culture, and Conflict.

“I joined the program because I wanted to improve, enhance, learn, and expand upon my current understanding of leadership and gain different perspectives,” said Jodi Velez C’27, who is an Action Scholar. “My mind has been opened in so many ways.”

“This program is a perfect opportunity to learn how to be a productive leader and learn how to foster relationships with people who are different from me,” said Maya Samuelson C’25, president of Drew’s Hillel. 

DUIEL seeks to respond to the widening divisiveness in today’s society by preparing young leaders to foster peaceful and pluralistic relations in their communities, using religion as a positive force through civil dialogue, conflict resolution, diversity and equity inclusion (DEI), and community leadership.  

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Drew students mingling at the DUIEL dinner reception.

“The program is very helpful in terms of interfaith interaction,” said Takundanshe Chinogwenya T’25, who is originally from Zimbabwe. “Being a religious leader, it’s really important to be able to navigate different religions, traditions, and cultures.”

“The institute is a huge opportunity for me spiritually and allows me to move outside of my comfort zone,” said Carl Adolphe C’27. “This program has helped me find my voice and raise my opinion.”

DUIEL offers the opportunity to sharpen interfaith and intercultural leadership, conflict resolution, as well as changemaking skills. Practitioners, scholars, and national thought leaders serve as program faculty, including Pardeep Singh Kaleka, adjunct professor of peace studies at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and co-director of Not in Our Town, an anti-hate project of The Working Group; Arno Michaelis, a former white supremist, filmmaker, public speaker, and author of My Life after Hate; and Tamara Meyer, author, therapist, lecturer, and child of German Jewish Holocaust survivors. 

“The students inspire me so much,” said Meyer. “There’s something about their dedication to leadership and making a difference. In telling our stories, we have an opportunity to make a difference. Our stories have been receptive in such an unusual way.”

“I really love the speakers, especially when there are pairs of speakers during one session,” said Rachel Shirk, a recent alum visiting from West Chester University. “It’s like interfaith in action.”

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