Laurie Wagman

Laurie Wagman, president of the Borowsky Family Foundation, aims to promote a broader understanding of religious philosophies in order to create a more peaceful world. It’s a passion she shared with her late husband, Irvin Borowsky, Hon. ’14, who established the Foundation.

"Irv also founded the American Interfaith Institute, and its mission is to build bridges among the people of all religions," says Ms. Wagman.

Mr. Borowsky’s honorary degree ceremony inspired the couple to partner with Drexel to advance the cause of interfaith tolerance and understanding. The Borowsky Family Foundation has since made a gift to establish a series of three online courses under the Judaic Studies program within Drexel’s College of Arts and Sciences.

"Students in these courses will be exploring the linkages of religions — how each is powerfully impacted by the other," says Ms. Wagman. "If we can acknowledge those influences and embrace them, the world will be a little more peaceful."

Upon completion of a set of the three multidisciplinary courses, students will receive the Certificate in Interfaith Studies. The courses are taught from historical, anthropological and philosophical points of view to provide a broad, global perspective. The courses also draw upon the collective knowledge of a board of theologians from disparate religions as well as numerous teachers of theology to offer a true interfaith perspective.

The first of the three courses is a MOOC, a massive open online course, that is free and open to anyone in the world. The third is accompanied by the Borowsky Travel Award, a travel stipend that awards 10 grants each year to fund students’ travel abroad to further their studies.

The structure of online learning is powerful. It’s a practical tool for reaching beyond the single classroom to an expanded student body.
"The structure of online learning is powerful," says Ms. Wagman. "It’s a practical tool for reaching beyond the single classroom to an expanded student body. We look forward to educator and student response to this unique MOOC experience throughout this year and in seasons to come."

"Humankind’s diverse religions are surely a core element of civilization," she adds. "By exploring and appreciating the vast heritage and ethics and values that connect us all, the mission of this MOOC outreach will be well-served and lasting."