Pluralism Project

The Pluralism Project at the University of Michigan-Dearborn is a study of religious diversity in southeastern Michigan.  It grows out of the University's affiliation with the Harvard University Pluralism Project. The people of the City of Detroit and its suburbs in Wayne, Oakland, and Macomb counties constitute one of the largest and most important centers of population in the United States.  Much of this population has had a long association with the automotive industry and labor unions which have shaped the area's culture, social life, ethnic composition, politics, and economy. While these factors have significantly influenced the religious landscape of the region, the growing diversity of religious traditions has, in turn, helped to mold Detroit.  The Pluralism Project at the University of Michigan-Dearborn is documenting how these factors have influenced and created one of the most dynamic religious landscapes in the United States today.

The Pluralism Project was developed by Diana L. Eck at Harvard University to study and document the growing religious diversity in the united States, with a special view to its new immigrant communities.  With the passage of the 1965 Immigration Act, eliminating national origins quotas, groups of people whose entrance had been restricted since the 1920s began to arrive. Today the United States is probably the most religiously diverse nation on earth.  When the Pluralism Project began in 1991, it focused on the changing religious landscape of the Boston metropolitan area.  Since then it has expanded and is now documenting similar patterns across the United States.  The research is providing descriptions of old and new Islamic mosques, Sikh gurdwaras, ethnic Christian churches, Hindu, Jain, and Buddhist temples, and centers of Zoroastrian, Taoist, Baha'i, Native American, Afro-Caribbean, and New Age spirituality.  In addition, the Project is examining how Americans are incorporating this religious diversity into traditional interfaith organizations and responding to it in the context of public institutions, including schools, hospitals, and government.