Prof. Muljani A. Nurhadi, MEd., MS., Ed.D, representing the Ministry of Religious Affairs, thanking international contributors to the symposium The Strategic Role of Religious Education in the Development of a Culture of Peace.
From left: Prof Shahram Akbarzadeh, Dep. Director Asia Institute, University of Melbourne, Geoff Boyce, Chaplain Flinders University of South Australia, Prof Des Cahill, Prof Intercultural Studies, RMIT, Melbourne (obscured), Prof Moner Bajunaid, Philippine Center for Islam and Democracy, Taufiq bin Raja Nurul Bahri, Rajaratman School of International Studies, Singapore, Rev Dr Ananias Iita, University of Namibia.
I have just returned from Indonesia, contributing to an international symposium The Strategic Role of Religious Education in the Development of a Culture of Peace at the invitation of the Ministry of Religious Affairs and the Centre for Research and Development of Religious Education and Religion of the Republic of Indonesia. I was invited to share my experiences of developing a culture of peace at Flinders University in the face of dominance by a hardline Christian group. My paper was entitled Welcoming the Stranger – Radical Hospitality as The Core Value of Peace-Building in an Age of Pluralism. (http://www.geoffboyce.com/my-papers/)
About 30 papers were presented, from academic researchers and experienced practitioners. This was achieved by dividing the symposium participants into three streams – Peaceful Society, Radicalism and Education. Feedback from the discussions in each of these groups was gathered into a statement of conclusions and recommendations, which will become more widely available soon. One likely outcome is that the contributors to the symposium may be invited to form the foundations of a research network, with an international journal providing a means of networking and communication. It is likely a follow-up symposium will be held again next year to continue the conversation.
The underlying motivation of the symposium was concern about Islamic radicalisation, particularly among young people. I came away from the symposium impressed by a sense of urgency and determination among the organisers to find ways and means to address the challenges of religious radicalisation through education and to create a research base to inform leadership and support the ongoing development of strategy and policy development. The youthful, enthusiastic composition of the symposium organising committee bodes well for a strong Indonesian contribution to the international conversation within this domain in the future.
I returned home wondering what we were doing nationally about multiple religious perspectives and radicalization in Australia, and who might strategise and sponsor a parallel forum directed toward establishing foundations for a cohesive approach to supporting religious literacy and inter-religious harmony in Australia?