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Inter-faith dialogue for the sake of governance and human rights

1st February 2016

CGHR Research Group Seminar

Inter-faith dialogue for the sake of governance and human rights

Arthur J. Keefer (Faculty of Divinity)

Discussant: Dr Judd Birdsall (Cambridge Institute on Religion & International Studies)

Presentation Description: Immigration and globalized communication have placed religion at the forefront of governance and human rights. Since nations must now account for religion when considering most any issue—violence or law or citizenship—how can individuals and institutions best approach religion? One option is ‘Interfaith Dialogue’, which represents the endeavour of faith groups to understand each other. Recent events in Africa and Asia suggest that governments should encourage such exchange, and I further claim that interfaith dialogue is a beneficial approach to religion in the current context. However, how might faith and political bodies understand and structure such dialogue? Based on scholarship and my own interfaith experience, I will detail five questions that arise during interfaith discussion. These represent points of debate and urgency, but also reveal a more fundamental need: a definition and conceptual framework for dialogue. In answering these questions, I hope to contribute to the conversation by providing a framework for approaching interfaith dialogue. The strength of this framework appears in that it classifies different types of dialogue, defines dialogue, and accounts for the central obstacle to dialogue. Finally, I will locate the main concerns of CGHR , such as law, human rights, and peace-building, within this framework, offering a resource for Cambridge’s multi-disciplinary research group.

The University of Cambridge Centre of Governance and Human Rights Research Group is a forum for graduate students and early-career researchers from any department and disciplinary background researching issues of governance and human rights in the global, regional, and national contexts. This is an excellent opportunity to receive cross-disciplinary feedback, to produce a published CGHR Working Paper with editorial help, and to meet and network with student and academic researchers.

The CGHR Research Group meets every first Monday of the month from 1 to 2pm in the Alison Richard Building, Department of Politics and International Studies (7 West Road). Participants may bring their lunch, and tea and coffee will be provided after the seminar.

The aim is to facilitate an exchange between younger and more established researchers, offering a forum for the development of new and innovative ideas, constructive criticism and stimulating debate. Each month, one paper will be presented, and detailed feedback will be provided by a discussant (an established researcher, to be arranged by the Convenor) before opening up for a wider exchange. Presenters will be encouraged to incorporate feedback into a revised document, for possible publication as a CGHR Working Paper.