CEDAR is a global educational network enabling members of disparate communities to recognize and accept their differences as they work toward a civil society.
CEDAR envisions a world in which the significant differences between peoples are no longer a source of conflict.
CEDAR provides a laboratory for the practical pedagogy of tolerance and living with difference in a global society. Its goals are to produce new practices and understandings so that we can find ways to live together in our diverse but increasingly interconnected world–a world populated by people with very different political ideas, moral beliefs, and communal loyalties. Our main focus is on religion, as it is our religious identities that are our most exclusive and our religious communities that claim our greatest allegiances. Our programs take these very real, critical, and defining differences, especially communal and religious differences between people, as the starting point of a publicly shared life.
Program fellows come from all over the world. A typical year will have participants from Albania, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Israel, Jordan, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, the Netherlands, Nigeria Pakistan, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States. These may include high school teachers and principals, civic leaders, rabbis, imams, priests, professors, attorneys, graduate students and members of the business community. Together we seek to define and explicate those new capacities, skills, and attitudes necessary for sharing a life among those with disparate ideologies or backgrounds. Together, fellows define the skill-sets required to implement change in their home countries and to develop programs toward this end. CEDAR offers a venue to discuss the design and execution of projects in the fellows’ home communities as well as support for their implementation.
“After sitting, meeting, eating . . . and travelling with the other, I could no longer demonize them.”
CEDAR provides a safe arena where its participants can open themselves to the experience of the other. The program seeks to break down assumptions about the other and replace them with a practice informed by the “suspension of judgment,” tolerance toward that with which we disagree and a practical, non-ideological set of attitudes based on our tangible experience rather than prior judgments about worlds we do not share.
Participants achieve these goals through living and learning together intensively for two weeks. CEDAR combines an academic lecture format with a spirited process of group dynamics and a commitment to gain particular, local knowledge through site visits in the host country, practicums, and a constantly changing international venue. Fellows experience the religious customs and practices of the others, abide by a set of specific rules of civic engagement, and thereby develop the behavioral practices and habits of mind necessary to share a life with people who are different–without in any way adopting positions of relativism or rejecting their own belief systems.
Globalization has reframed the boundaries of our world. If we are to share this world peaceably, we must parse our differences and assert our identities in new ways. We must complement our new social boundaries with new human capacities. Only by learning how to live together differently can we live together at all. CEDAR is an ongoing, practical experiment in this endeavor.