The California Pluralism Project (CPP) is a non-profit, nonpartisan educational resource for teaching about California's ethnic and religious diversity to engage students, improve literacy, and foster civic participation.
Support from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) has made it possible for faculty experts from the California State University system and elsewhere to build accurate, engaging, and relevant classroom resources about California's ethnic and religious diversity for advanced high school and early college students. The result of our collaboration is the California Pluralism Project, for which we have the following aims:
We want students to succeed in a global economy. This will require high levels of religious literacy and civic engagement. Even if they never leave California, today’s young adults will have co-workers with diverse religious and cultural values, practices, and histories. The basic understanding of California’s rich diversity afforded by CPP resources will equip students to collaborate and thrive.
We want to encourage democratic participation. The ability to identify common ground and engage difference with civility teaches the courage to participate, which increases peace and prosperity.
We want to improve college readiness. Exposing high school students to college level work will inspire some capable yet overlooked students to aspire to college admissions. More exposure to college level work for students aged 16 to 20 will improve college graduation rates. Advanced high school and beginning college students are empowered by seeing their own lives reflected in the curriculum, so we are working to build lessons that engage both educational content standards and lived experience.
We want to empower parents and teachers. Media depictions of religion often highlight difference and division. In reality, most American families today are religiously diverse internally. Modern cities provide a dizzying array of spiritual options and many Americans have crafted blended religious identities. We hope that CPP resources will inspire parents and teachers to think more deeply about real world religious experiences and the influences of myths, rituals, and symbols.
Dr. Vincent Biondo teaches Islam, Judaism, and Comparative Religions at California State University, Fresno. He is co-editor of Civility, Religious Pluralism and Education (Routledge, 2013) and Religion and Culture (Fortress Press, 2012).
Dr. Kate McCarthy teaches courses on Christianity, Women and Religion, and American Religious Pluralism at California State University, Chico. She is the author of Interfaith Encounters in America (Rutgers University Press, 2007) and co-editor of God in the Details: American Religion in Popular Culture (Routledge, 2010)
Dr. Rebecca Moore is Professor Emeritus in Religious Studies at San Diego State University. She is the author of Women in Christian Traditions (NYU Press, 2015) and Understanding Jonestown and Peoples Temple (Praeger, 2009).
Dr. Stephen Lloyd-Moffett is Associate Professor of Religious Studies at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. He is the author of Beauty for Ashes: The Spiritual Transformation of a Modern Greek Community (St Vladimir's Seminary Press, 2009) and "Holy Activist, Secular Saint: Religion and the Social Activism of Cesar Chavez," in Gaston Espinosa and Mario T. Garcia, eds., Mexican American Religions (Duke University Press, 2008)