History of NextGen at PoWR


Youth and the Parliament of the World’s Religions


The voices of youth at the world’s premier interfaith convening have a rich history in the history of the interfaith movement. The most renowned Parliament speech in history happened in 1893 when Swami Vivekananda, a Hindu monk from India, opened the first World Parliament of Religions by calling upon his “Sisters and Brothers of America.” He was 30 years old.

In the 129 years since the 1893 World’s Parliament of Religions, PoWR has committed to uplifting the voices of youth and emerging leaders as a critical constituency under the umbrella of the Next Generation.

1993 Chicago Parliament
  • Youth representatives designed a plenary session titled the“The Next Generation”

1999 Cape Town Parliament
  • Youth program titled “The Next Generation” first appeared in Cape Town, South Africa

  • The Next Generation: “The Parliament’s youth initiative, The Next Generation, is dedicated to nurturing transformative communities through the power, energy, and enthusiasm of today’s young leadership”

  • Ages 16-25

  • 6 Day program included:

    • 4 gatherings:

      • “Pushing through the Boundaries of Creative Engagement: Youth Initiatives that Work”

      • “Rediscovering the Continuum: Honoring Our Intergenerational Bonds:

      •  “Realization of the New Day: The Next Generation Responds to the Call”

      •  “Spirit of the City: Young People and Community Experience”

    • Exchange Program

      • Next Generation and and Mannenberg youth joined for an evening ceremony

      • Next Generation received a tour of the District 6 Museum from District 6 Youth Ambassadors

      • 40 members visited the SHAWCO youth center in Mannenberg

    • Creation of the final Plenary titled “Nurturing Transformative Communities in the Future: An Open Space Conference”

2004 Barcelona Parliament
  • At the 2004 Barcelona Parliament, youth participation took the shape of a Parliament Academy, with participants under the age of 30.

  • Parliament Academy Topics:

    • Honoring Shared Views on Christianity, Judaism, Islam

    • Uniting Youth Leaders for Global Transformation

    • Young People and Religious Freedom

    • Building an Interfaith Youth Movement in Your Community: Shared Values and Social Action

    • Connecting with Young People in Our Cities

    • Media Empowerment – Understanding and Using the Power of Media

    • Promoting Sustainable Development through Partnerships with Religious and Spiritual Communities and Youth

    • Interreligious Engagement in Higher Education – A Princeton Model

2009 Melbourne Parliament
  • At the 2009 Melbourne Parliament, youth participation included youth-centered programs, an evening youth plenary, and a youth coffee house.

  • Youth Programs:

    • Pilgrims’ Progress 2008: Research on Those Who Attended the Sydney World Youth Day

    • The Future of Religion in Australia? Melbourne’s Religious Leaders in Dialogue with Young People

    • The Art of Creative Expression: Youth Workshop

    • Ending Legalized Violence Against Against Children – A Religious Imperative

    • Youth Spirituality: Join the Evolution! Youth, Spiritual Development, and Activism

    • Convening Education Session: Schooling, Young People and Social Inclusion

    • Best Practices in Interfaith Youth Work: Religious Schools and Community-Based Programs Respond

    • Hearing the Concerns and Voices of the Indigenous Youth

    • Analyze This: Views of Young Saudi, Australian, and American Muslim Women on Their Faith and Evolving Roles

2015 Salt Lake City Parliament
    • For the first time, the 2015 Salt Lake City Parliament included a full major track of programming devoted to emerging leaders.

    • Emerging Leaders represented a rising generation of interfaith practitioners whose interests dwell in religious literacy and social action.

    • Emerging Leaders Plenary:

      • Dr. Eboo Patel and Dawn Maracle (Co-Emcees)

      • Pardeep Singh Kaleka

      • K.R. Ravindran

      • Honey and the Sting

      • Habe El Hindi

      • Faatimah Knight

      • Donovan Arthen

      • Isobel Arthen

      • Crystal Silva-McCormick

      • Andrea Zucker

      • Zach Hunter

      • Yonatan Belik

      • Ta’Kaiya Blaney

      • Dr. Suzanne Baraket

      • Publication of “A Declaration from the Emerging Leaders

2018 Toronto Parliament
  • At the 2018 Parliament of the World’s Religions, the Next Generation was a signature track of the programming. 
  • With a focus on intergenerational interfaith understanding, the Next Generation hosted four signature keynote programs, bringing together international interfaith organizers and leaders.
    • Youth Voices for Change: Arts, Academia, Activism –  According to the World Bank, four in ten people – 42% of the global population – are aged under 25. Faced with issues like climate change and a growing inequality gap, young people around the globe are taking matters into their own hands. The Next Generation has become the drivers of social change and are designing innovative solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges. And they are doing it by working across lines of differences and engaging diversity as a force for good. Join us to learn about how the Next Generation makes up the ‘head, heart, and feet’ of the global interfaith movement. This session will highlight Interfaith Youth Core, A Common Word Among the Youth, and Faiths in Tune as interfaith organizations that are making waves in the realms of academia, activism, and arts. 
    • Change Agents: Activists on the Frontlines – From gun control to racial justice, young people aren’t just fighting to fix our world’s most pressing issues: they are the ones leading the way to a better future for everyone. The young people on this panel are on the front lines of justice around the world. They’re showing us the world can and should be different. Learn about their strategies and approach, and get inspired to plug into and support their efforts for bold, unapologetic change. This panel will feature Abhayjeet Singh Sachal and Sukhmeet Singh Sachal, 2 brothers in Canada who created “Break the Divide” to connect youth and initiate action through personal connections.
    • Video for Change: Challenges and Lessons Learned – Are you using video to film protests, capture interviews, or document human rights violations to support your advocacy efforts? Do you want to create videos or engage media in order to make a lasting impact? According to Pew, young people aged 18 to 36 around the world use the Internet and technology more than older generations. Many believe that technology is an instrumental tool to build a new world of work, and the Next Generation is ready to help create that vision. This session will be an interactive, skills-based workshop that explores the successes and potentialities, as well as limitations and challenges, that human rights video bring to the objectives of contemporary advocacy, reporting, and accountability efforts. Learn from Raja Althaibani, Program Manager at WITNESS. With over 10 years of field experience in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, Raja is most recognized for her broad-based and in-depth understanding of human rights, technology, and the MENA.
    • Interfaith in Review: An Intergenerational Conversation Looking Back and Leaning Forward – Interfaith leadership develops within individuals that have a curiosity towards diverse worldviews and are willing to take action on issues that they are care about. Age is not a prerequisite for interfaith leadership; nor is it a measure of experience and commitment within the global interfaith movement. In this session, we bring together both emerging voices and well-seasoned interfaith leaders for “Interfaith in Review: An Intergenerational Conversation Looking Back and Leaning Forward” to offer a unique intergenerational experience. 
  • On the final night of the 7th Parliament convening, the world tuned in to the Next Generation Evening Assembly where Toronto and international speakers challenged religious leaders and the interfaith movement to action. The Next Generation Plenary Keynotes included:
2021 Virtual Parliament
  • At the organization’s 1st virtual Convening in 2021, youth once again curated a dedicated track for the Next Generation of leaders.
  • 27 programs made up the Next Generation Track offering insights into topics like youth philanthropy, spirituality, leadership and more.
  • Parliament NextGen Chair, Kehkashan Basu was featured as a keynote speaker as part of the plenary programming.


Land Acknowledgment

The Parliament of the World's Religions is headquartered in the City of Chicago, the traditional homelands of the Council of the Three Fires: the Ojibwe, Odawa, and Potawatomi Nations, and other tribes such as the Miami, Ho-Chunk, Menominee, Sac, and Fox. 

PoWR recognizes and respects Indigenous Peoples as traditional stewards of this land. We remain committed to the advancement of dignity and justice for Indigenous Peoples’ and their communities in the region and around the world.


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