About the Institute
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. The Boniuk Center was renamed to Boniuk Institute on May 16, 2013 with a $28.5 million gift from Dr. Milton and Laurie Boniuk.
Our Bridge-Building Vision:
The Boniuk Institute for Religious Tolerance at Rice is dedicated to nurturing tolerance among people of all and no faiths, especially youth, and to studying the conditions in which tolerance and intolerance flourish. Our mission is to understand the conditions that make peaceful coexistence possible and to promote these conditions locally, nationally and throughout the world. Through innovative educational outreach to students and adults alike, the Institute offers a range of distinctive signature programs promoting religious tolerance.
Programs like the Sacred Sites Quest (SSQ) and Embracing Tolerance Essay Contest for high school students help to build bridges of religious literacy, mutual understanding and interfaith collaboration between members of different faith traditions and spiritual or secular communities. The Boniuk Institute seeks to leverage learning and constructive dialogue into positive social action, engaging all its partners and program participants in various ways.
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 Institute 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 Institute'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 Institute 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 Institute 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. Through its outreach projects, media presence, and partnering with other university and community centers, the Institute shapes public debate on issues related to tolerance.
Our work matters. Given the growing and tragic toll that religious intolerance exacts from us, as individuals and communities, the Boniuk Institute can capitalize on the strengths of Rice and of Houston to make a difference in the world.