Conrad Grebel University College establishes Centre for the Study of Religion and Peace

Monday, October 25, 2010

Conrad Grebel University College announces the establishment of the Centre for the Study of Religion and Peace (CSRP). This centre was formally approved by Conrad Grebel’s Board of Governors on October 14, 2010.

The centre, which will focus on research, dialogue, and public education activities,

aspires to advance knowledge and awareness of religious contributions to peace, and to enhance the capacity of religious communities to engage contemporary conflict issues and practice the peaceful values they profess.

While the work of the Centre is rooted in Conrad Grebel’s Anabaptist-Mennonite and Christian heritage, the CSRP will explore the peace potential inherent in all religious traditions, and will explore ways to more fully actualise this potential and apply it to build trust, foster understanding, and revitalize public policy discussions.

Nathan Funk, Associate Professor in Peace and Conflict Studies at Conrad Grebel, will be the centre’s Lead Researcher. Funk, who has authored or co-authored a number of writings on international conflict resolution, with a special focus on unofficial dialogue processes, Islamic-Western relations, identity conflict, and the role of cultural and religious factors in peace building capacity development, is excited about the establishment of this centre.

Funk says:

While religion can be a factor that gets manipulated to sharpen differences between people who are in conflict, religion can also manifest a positive side in conflict situations. Religions offer resources for peacemaking and value systems that call for changes in human relationships. This will be the focus of the centre.

The first official event of the CSRP will take place on November 11. Fear and Hope: Religion’s Role in Conflict and Peace will be a colloquium featuring Dr. Luis Lugo, Director of the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion and Public Life, with five diverse respondents. Lugo, a native of Cuba, has directed the Religion program at the Pew Charitable Trusts, and has been a professor of Political Science for more than 12 years, teaching courses on international relations, Latin America politics, religion and public policy. Dr. Funk will moderate the discussion which will be held in the Atrium of the Centre for International Governance Innovation (57 Erb Street, Waterloo).

Funk says:

We did not plan to hold our first event on November 11. But we were happy when the opportunity arose. We believe an event like this serves the larger purposes of Remembrance Day, by calling us to reflect on issues that are a source of current concern and inviting conversation about how we can work together to make the peace we enjoy more real and lasting.  And by organizing this as a colloquium in which diverse voices will be heard, we want to signal our intent for the centre: we want it to provide a space for engagement across differences, for collaborative research, and for ongoing public dialogue.

By Susan Fish

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