Founded in April of 2004 with a $5 million endowed gift from Dr. Milton and Mrs. Laurie Boniuk, the Boniuk Center promotes conditions conducive to sustainable peace among persons of different religions. A more complete history of the center’s origins is available here.
Our Vision: Building Peace
Imagine a multi-media library?books, images, and movies?containing accurate, up to date information about the world?s religions and about building peace among them. Imagine that this library is freely accessible in many languages to people living all over the world. Teachers across the globe could build customized curricula based on sound, reliable scholarship. Students everywhere could learn about faiths other than their own . Knowledge could combat propaganda and quell fear. Sustainable peace could become possible.
Using technologies developed at Rice through the Connexions Project (cnx.org), ?Building Peace? will package the Center?s work on the web so that it can be used in multiple educational contexts, from elementary schools to universities to institutions that train religious leaders, around the world and in different languages. This site will index our research so that it is maximally useful to scholars working on a wide range of topics as well as to policy makers and activists seeking to resolve real-world problems. As the Center grows and supports more and more programs, the Building Peace website will develop into a comprehensive, indeed an unrivalled, research, teaching, and policy resource accessible easily and for free all over the world. It insures that our work makes a difference.
Houston and Rice University
Our inspiration is Houston, one of the most religiously and ethnically diverse cities in the country. A global force in the energy, medical, space, and applied technology industries, Houston attracts scientists and researchers from around the world. Over sixty languages other than English are spoken in the homes of Houston?s school children.
Houston is home to the faithful of every living major world religion: Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, Zoroastrians, Muslims, Jains, Jews, Christians, and dozens of others. The largest megachurch in North America, Lakewood, is a few miles from Rice?s campus. Whether they welcome us or challenge us, these religious communities and Houston provide our Center with an ideal laboratory and an ideal home.
Innovative, multi-disciplinary research and excellent teaching; A commitment to public policy and civic engagement; New partnerships with nearby museums, the Texas Medical Center, and Houston-area schools. These great strengths of Rice University are the Boniuk Center?s foundation.
What Sets Us Apart?
We are risk-takers. We reach out to those who question or reject tolerance, and we facilitate conversations among groups who disagree. This risk-taking sets us apart from organizations that promote interfaith dialogue, for these attract only persons who already embrace diversity. Our Center seeks out communities for whom pluralism is a problem, and we create contexts in which such groups can become agents for peace.
We translate research into action. The Center uses university research to develop educational programs on world religions and peaceful co-existence. We are committed to making all of our work available globally and free of charge. Through its outreach projects, media presence, and work with the Baker Institute, the Center shapes public debate on issues related to tolerance.
Our work matters. Given the growing and tragic toll exacted from us, as individuals and communities, by religious intolerance, the Boniuk Center can capitalize on the strengths of Rice and of Houston to make a difference in the world.