FDU professor invited to speak at the White House

Professor Khyati Y. Joshi

“The religious diversity of the American classroom has exploded in recent years, but our approaches to teaching and learning, and to giving diverse faiths a voice in the public square, haven’t kept up,” says Professor Khyati Y. Joshi, an expert social scientist whose work focuses on multicultural education and religion in America, particularly South Asian religions like Hinduism, Sikhism, and Islam.  “Religious literacy is now an essential skill for teachers, policy-makers, and all of us.”

The way immigrant and second-generation Americans live their religions, and respond to their status as religious minorities in a country where Christianity remains normative, is the basis of what Joshi will present at the White House in Washington, D.C., as part of a conference presented by the White House Office of Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, the non-profit organization Hindu American Seva Charities, and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Joshi has been invited to discuss her research to help improve understanding of South Asian religious communities in the United States and inform the development of policies and best practices in the area of Homeland Security. The conference will take place on April 20.

“It’s very clear that teachers and principals don’t know all that can be done because of the fear of saying the wrong thing,” says Joshi, who is looking forward to the chance to potentially influence policy. “Educators can’t teach what they don’t know. Because people are not informed about many religions, including their own, they don’t talk about it. (We need to) let students know that they can talk about it.”

Joshi teaches courses in the Peter Sammartino School of Education at Fairleigh Dickinson University including: “The Multicultural Classroom,” “World Religions in America,” and “Religion, Schools and Society.” She is the author of the book New Roots in America’s Sacred Ground: Religion, Race and Ethnicity in Indian America (Rutgers Univ. Press, 2006) and a host of scholarly and popular articles. She also consults with school districts and trains K-12 teachers across the United States.

"The White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships works to build bridges between the federal government and nonprofit organizations, both secular and faith-based, to better serve Americans in need," according to its website.

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