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The Ohio Pluralism Project

An affiliate of the Pluralism Project at Harvard University

Co-Directors: David W. Odell-Scott and Lauren M. Odell-Scott

The Ohio Pluralism Project at Kent State University is a research project committed to the study of post-1965 immigrant religious communities in the state of Ohio.  With the landmark national immigration policy of 1965, the state of Ohio experienced a remarkable transformation of its already diverse ethnic landscape.  With increased immigration from Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and Latin America, the religious landscape soon began to manifest the diverse religious traditions and cultures of the world.  Soon new sites of religion began to enrich the already rich diversity of predominately European cultures and religious legacies.  Since the founding of the Ohio Pluralism Project at Kent State University in 1998, we have engaged in the study of communities which identify themselves as Buddhist with representative groups of Mahayana and Theravada traditions, drawn from diverse national and ethnic populations from Japan, Vietnamese, Cambodian, Laotian, Mon, Korean, Chinese, Tibet and Napel.  From Indian we have communities which identify themselves as Hindu representing traditions as diverse as Radhaswami, Sant Nirankari Mission, Swaminarayan, and Hare Krishna, as well as Jain and Sikh.  And from Africa, Asia, Europe, and the South Pacific, the diversity of national and ethnic populations who identify as Muslim representing Sunni, Shia, Sufi and the Ahmadiyya traditions of Islam have built Mosques throughout the state.  These and other religious communities representing a diversity of legacies and traditions in Ohio have been identified in our study.  

The Ohio Pluralism Project provides students in the Religion Studies Program at Kent State the opportunity to experience the changing religious landscape of Ohio.  Student enrolled in the Kent CORE Religious Studies courses (REL 11020 Introduction to World Religions) are required to visit one of the local Ohio Pluralism Project identified communities as a site visit in conjunction with their study of world religious.  The guided paper provides students an opportunity to engage in an intentional study which incorporates their experience with their academic study of world religions in Ohio.

The Ohio Pluralism Project at Kent State University was founded in 1998 as an Affiliate of the Pluralism Project at Harvard University with research grants awarded to Professors David W. Odell-Scott (Philosophy) and Surinder M. Bhardwaj (Geography) (Emeritus, 2005) of the Religion Studies Program at Kent State University.  The 1998 inaugural grant awarded by the Harvard Project supported the initial proposal to Map Post-1965 Immigrant Religious Communities in Northern Ohio.  A subsequent proposal was invited by the Harvard Project to extend the Ohio Pluralism Project to map post-1965 immigrant religious communities for the state of Ohio in 1999.