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Dr. Laurie Johnston Awarded Fulbright U.S. Scholar Grant to Research and Teach in Belgium

How can our Catholic institutions fully live up to our theological principles about Islam, and what would it mean for a Catholic institution to help nurture the spirituality of a Muslim?

Emmanuel College Associate Professor of Theology and Religious Studies Laurie Johnston, Ph.D. has received a Fulbright grant to teach and research at the Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium. During the spring semester of 2018, Johnston will study the relationship between Catholic educational institutions and Muslim students in Belgium. She will also teach a graduate level course on ethics and international relations.

The focus of Johnston’s research grew out of work she is currently engaged in while on sabbatical from Emmanuel. “I became interested in this topic from reading about European institutions and their relations to Islam,” she says. According to Johnston, “the integration of Muslims is a challenging and fraught topic for European countries,” and it has had a profound impact on some Catholic schools. For example, she says that in France “some Catholic schools have predominantly Muslim student populations because they allow students to wear the veil, whereas secular schools do not.”

For Catholic institutions, she says, working with large Muslim populations presents “both challenges and opportunities.” Catholic religious doctrine, she explains, “says that we greatly respect and esteem the faith of Muslims, and we worship the same god.” Still, she asks “how can our Catholic institutions fully live up to our theological principles about Islam, and what would it mean for a Catholic institution to help nurture the spirituality of a Muslim?”

Johnston will explore these questions and also investigate if Catholic institutions in Europe can serve…

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