International developments since 11 September 2001 have created interest in Islam through the connection between this religion and terrorism. In this way, the 21st century has begun with an increased interest in religion. In some countries Islamic communities have become isolated and were even discriminated against as a consequence of terrorist attacks on the USA, in London, in Bali or Spain. Universities, previously involved in theological studies through their theology faculties, have had a limited interest in religion with the exception of private universities maintained by religious bodies. In some countries, including Australia, public universities have been maintaining the tradition of a chaplaincy, assisting students and staff in their spiritual problems and needs, sometimes providing basic religious services. However, universities have also become more multicultural and international (through immigration and international cooperation). The multicultural compositions of universities require new organisational forms to respond to their cultural diversity. This paper focuses on practical, organisational models responding to the religious and spiritual needs of students and staff as well trying to link this with the broader community. It suggests an appropriate policy framework within universities and proposes some practical solutions. This paper is based on a multicultural approach and considers religion to be an important part of culture. Further, the paper argues that a university as a place of culture and intellectualism has a duty to respond to the religious needs of the university community. The paper takes into account various religious groups; and attempts to create appropriate relations between different faiths and religious traditions and non-believers.
|Keywords:||Religious Diversity, Universities, Multiculturalism, Chaplaincy|
Director, Multicultural Centre, The University of Southern Queensland, Toowoomba, Queensland, Australia
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