Imagining Justice in Baltimore

Throughout America’s history, religious leaders and religious communities have confronted the greatest challenges facing our nation by drawing on the wisdom of religious traditions. The city of Baltimore is the focal point for a national conversation around questions of justice, race and community. At this pivotal moment in our city’s history, indeed our nation’s history, the ICJS highlights the continued importance of bringing diverse religious perspectives to address civic and social challenges. In the yearlong initiative Imagining Justice in Baltimore, the ICJS will contribute Jewish, Christian and Muslim perspectives to the public conversation about justice and healing in Baltimore.

We see a city that is fragmented and polarized. During communal crisis, action is required on the part of individuals, institutions and government. Yet action alone is not enough to create meaningful change. In partnership with leading thinkers and institutions, the ICJS scholars have developed Imagining Justice in Baltimore, a yearlong series of innovative programs that bring together people from across the city, and across religious divides, to read, reflect and speak about justice. This series will explore how interreligious conversations and coalitions can serve as a force of good in Baltimore City leading to communal dialogue, cooperation and action.

Sustained and successful change is fueled by great ideas. Great ideas are the result of reading, reflection and conversation with individuals who both share, and who challenge, deeply held ideas and beliefs. The ICJS recognizes that the influence of religion and ethics is not confined to religious institutions or even to particular communities. Religious and ethical texts and traditions inform every aspect of civic discourse. Religious communities can play a constructive and powerful role in creating a trusting network of people who know how to address complex and divisive issues. The long-term goal of our initiative Imagining Justice in Baltimore, is that the city of Baltimore will serve as a model of how interreligious learning can influence vital conversations and shape public life. This experience will lead to action and forging a community of tolerance. 

Join the 2018 Community Leader Cohort


Are you interested in religion and social justice?

The ICJS is searching for its next cohort of Community Leaders (CL) as part of the Imagining Justice in Baltimore (IJB) series.

Baltimore is a divided and polarized city. Like many large cities across the country, Baltimore has suffered from decades of segregations, staggering inequity, and concentrated poverty. Freddie Gray’s death sparked several days of protests and civil disorder. While these events made headlines, the story is embedded in both national and religious narratives that have a deeper history. Have you heard religious voices respond to societal injustices? What do our religious communities have to say about challenging the status quo? How can religion be used to advocate for social justice reform?

Now in our second iteration of the program, we are looking for early or mid-career Baltimoreans interested in the intersection of social justice and religion to serve as our IJB Community Leaders from February 2018–November 2018. In preparation for these discussions, the Community Leaders will meet for four nights in February/March 2018 to learn together. Community Leaders will also contribute two reflections or videos to be posted on the ICJS Huffington Post blog.

Honorarium Each CL will receive an honorarium of $2,000 for their participation in the ten-month program.

Who can be a CL? We are looking for early or mid-career Baltimoreans who have a proven commitment to community service and/or social justice work. This can include providers of social services, teachers, counselors, health care workers, activists, entrepreneurs, volunteers, law enforcement, government representatives, artists, and others.

Expectations for Community Leaders Mini-Course (February-March 2018) These sessions will run from 6:00–9:00 pm. The ICJS Scholars will teach lessons on specific texts and/or authors, equipping the Community Leaders with the information necessary to lead roundtable discussions on the same material at the City-Wide Community Conversations in Fall 2018. 

  • Tuesday, February 27, 2018 
  • Tuesday, March 6, 2018 
  • Tuesday, March 13, 2018 
  • Tuesday, March 20, 2018 

The above dates are mandatory. Additional social and networking opportunities will be optional. 

City-Wide Community Conversations (October-November 2018) ICJS staff will lead four public conversations about justice in Baltimore. Approximately 150 participants from greater Baltimore will be assigned to small discussion groups. After ICJS staff sets the stage for discussion, Community Leaders will serve as table facilitators these small discussion groups. Community Leaders are expected to attend four City-Wide community conversations. The City-Wide Conversations will be held between 5:00 pm and 9:00 pm. 

  • Thursday, October 4, 2018 
  • Thursday, October 18, 2018 
  • Thursday, November 1, 2018 
  • Thursday, November 15, 2018 

Huffington Post Submissions CLs are expected to submit two reflections, one after the mini-course and one in Fall 2018. The reflection can be in the form of a 750-1000 word blog post or a 3-minute video. A select number of reflections/videos will be published on the ICJS Huffington Post blog. ICJS staff will provide assistance in completing and editing these essays.

Expected outcomes for Community Leaders and their organizations Community Leaders will receive the following benefits from this ten-month commitment:

  • Access to a diverse network of non-profit professionals working in Baltimore
  • Skills training in facilitating interreligious dialogue
  • Support in becoming a public advocate for their commitment to justice
  • Edited essays and/or video reflections
  • Local and national profile for your organization through the ICJSHuffington Post blog

Apply online at
Applications due by Thursday, January 4, 2018