To Encourage Dialogue, Religious Leaders Need to Speak Up and Get Media Wise

12 November 2014

KAICIID Announces Training for Religious Leaders and Dialogue Practitioners

VIENNA, 21 October 2014 – KAICIID, the world’s first intergovernmental interreligious organization, seeks to encourage interreligious dialogue by empowering religious leaders and dialogue practitioners to change the way they engage with media.

 KAICIID is proud to be working with partners at the Global Network of Religions for Children in Nairobi, Kenya and Sarv Dharma Sansad in New Delhi, India, where KAICIID will pilot two training curricula on media engagement in November 2014.

Two different training courses will be offered in each city, Nairobi and New Delhi, with around 80 religious leaders and interreligious dialogue practitioners receiving training in all. KAICIID partners will work to monitor their progress and development over the next six months. Evaluations from trainees and trainers will shape the future curricula and training courses.

As a first step toward dialogue, people should have an accurate understanding of religious communities and beliefs—and their preconceptions are sharped in large part by the media and online information. Challenging stereotypes and bolstering good requires a two- pronged approach: On one hand, dialogue practitioners must strengthen the way they engage with the media and online, in order to promote more accurate information. On the other hand, those who consume news and information must be media savvy—they should understand media dynamics and reflect on the way that representations affect their perceptions.

Globalization and technological innovations have changed the media landscape and the way we interact with the media. Social media platforms offer every person the opportunity to broadcast their messages to the world. The Internet allows ever more people to connect in new ways, and provides a tremendous opportunity for dialogue. At the same time, it makes it easier for misinformation and even hate speech to be broadcast and shared. KAICIID seeks to bolster more accurate representations of all faiths by building the skills of the key players in interreligious dialogue: religious leaders and dialogue practitioners.

“KAICIID is delighted to announce its engagement in the all-important field of media,” said Faisal Bin Muaammar, KAICIID Secretary General. “Religious leaders and dialogue practitioners should be empowered to use media with skill and savvy, and speak out for peace. Two KAICIID products seeking to support this change are being field tested next month. KAICIID hopes in the near future to offer these trainings around the world.”

KAICIID is piloting two training curricula that will address media engagement in two ways.

  1. “Media Wise: Empowering Responsible Religious Leadership in the Digital Age”: Religious leaders are consumers and transmitters of information. This curriculum is tailored to their needs, enabling religious leaders to understand the news media, assess how news and information shape perceptions about people from other religions and cultures, find quality information, and address misinformation when they see it. This course is the result of a collaboration with KAICIID partner UNESCO, and UNESCO and KAICIID are working together to pilot this curriculum.
  2. “Speak Up: Social Media and Communications Training for Interreligious Dialogue Practitioners”: Experienced interreligious dialogue practitioners know the value of dialogue and the potential of faith as a force for peace—this is their daily reality. But too often, their messages of positive action and peace are drowned by narratives of violence and breaking news about conflicts conducted in the name of religion. This course will help dialogue practitioners use social media channels and engage with journalists to tell their stories of peace.