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Philosophy professor receives grant for The Comparison Project

Humanities Iowa awarded $6,000 to Timothy Knepper, associate professor of philosophy, for The Comparison Project. Knepper created the project to educate Drake University and the greater Des Moines area about diversity in world religions.

The 2012–2013 school year will be The Comparison Project’s inaugural year. This year’s theme is religious responses to suffering, which all sponsored events will center around. Events will look at the philosophy of religion through a historical and comparative lens.

Funding for The Comparison Project will be used to offer several events, which will be free and open to the public. Knepper plans to hold six lectures, two inter-faith dialogues, a non-fiction reading, and a panel discussion during the fall and spring semesters.

Knepper has arranged for experts and scholars from different religions and backgrounds to lecture at Drake as part of the Project, most notably Steven Katz and John Kiser.

Katz is a well-known expert in Jewish and Holocaust studies. He recently finished his term as a senior scholar at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. Kiser authored Monks of Tibhirine: Faith, Love, and Terror in Algeria, which inspired the motion picture Commander of the Faithful: A Story of True Jihad.

“In the end, my hope is that the scholarly community learns something about the diversities and patterns of religious reason-giving,” Knepper says. “Beyond that, I hope Drake becomes a site for a new style of philosophy of religion, one that is historically grounded and religiously diverse.”

Fall 2012 scheduled events:

Oct. 3: Nikky-Guninder K. Singh, the Crawford Family professor of religion at Colby College, will speak on Sikh reinterpretations of the Hindu principle of karma-samsara.

Oct. 25: Michelene Pesantubbee, associate professor of religious studies and American Indian native studies at the University of Iowa, will speak onLakota spirit dance and the Cherokee ghost dance as explanations of and responses to suffering.

Nov. 14: John Kiser, author of Monks of Tibhirine: Faith, Love and Terror in Algeria, will speak on Abd El-Kader’s struggles against both the French invasion of Algeria and the Druze persecution of Christians.

Visit http://artsci.drake.edu/comparativereligion for more information as it becomes available and to learn of additional events.