RPL Partners with Boston Children's Museum to Explore Religious Literacy

May 1, 2020
Diane L. Moore in her office

Boston Children’s Museum has received a grant from the Lilly Endowment to conduct research into religious identity and spirituality in the context of the public experience of the Museum. The grant is funding explorations into ways to improve understanding of religions and foster knowledge and respect for diverse religious beliefs.

“Religion is already part of the fabric of the Museum,” said Leslie Swartz, Senior Vice President for Research and Planning, and the project’s leader at the Museum. “People of different faiths are welcome, present and visible at the Museum, reflecting the religious diversity of metropolitan Boston. This project will help us better understand how children and families think about religion and its role in their lives and guide the Museum in how it can provide a welcoming environment for sharing, understanding, and affirming a multiplicity of world views.”

A core element of the research is the Museum’s partnership with the Harvard Divinity School’s Program on Religion and Public Life (RPL). The Museum and RPL are conducting a seminar that explores how to foster practices that advance religious literacy relevant to Boston and children age birth through ten, their caregivers, and their educators. Divinity School students are conducting research into ways the Museum can foster curiosity and conduct meaningful and respectful conversations about the lived experiences of religion in our daily lives.

“I have long held the deepest respect for Boston Children’s Museum—as a parent, as an educator, and now as a partner,” said Diane L. Moore, director of the Program on Religion and Public Life. “The Program on Religion and Public Life is honored to support the Museum as it takes up the important task of integrating religious experience into its programming and approach. Religion has always been a vital part of our shared civic experience—shaping the lives of individuals, families, communities, and the wider world. Now, more than ever, we need fresh approaches to advancing the public understanding of religion—approaches that can spur children’s creativity and moral imagination toward building a more just and peaceful society. This partnership will advance that goal to the benefit of Boston and far beyond.”

The seminar conducted this spring includes eight students. The seminar will be followed by a full-time summer internship program (open to the seminar participants only) at the Museum that will build on the research conducted in the seminar.


The Program on Religion and Public Life at Harvard Divinity School is dedicated to enhancing the public understanding of religion in the service of building a just world at peace. RPL provides an umbrella for programs, research, and scholarship that explore the ways that religion is entwined with social, political, and economic dimensions of human experience and the institutions that structure human interaction. RPL provides a framework for students across disciplines and professionals in a wide array of fields and to better understand the destructive as well as the creative power of religion in unique contexts. Learn more on the Religion and Public Life website.

Boston Children’s Museum engages children and families in joyful discovery experiences that instill an appreciation of our world, develop foundational skills, and spark a lifelong love of learning. More information about Boston Children’s Museum can be found at www.BostonChildrensMuseum.org. Become a fan of the Museum on Facebook and Twitter.