Since antiquity, many inspirational religious leaders exhorted their followers and societies with strong messages to promote justice, freedom, well-being, and the happiness of humanity. These teachings can provide the impulse for diverse religious communities to come together, as they constitute the foundations for a shared common space that underpin a cohesive society. Nevertheless, the historical experience of religions within the political realm of human societies has produced motivations leading to paths of exclusivism, especially toward those perceived as religiously, racially, and culturally Other. While acknowledging factors extraneous and internal to religious traditions which promote exclusivism, the Distinguished Lecture and Symposium seeks to re-position religion as a force to cohere society in spite of differences by building upon traditions that promote inclusivist conduct.
Some of the questions the Distinguished Lecture and Symposium will answer include:
- What is exclusivism and inclusivism in religious traditions?
- How may exclusivist attitudes be countered?
- How are fundamentalism, exclusivism, and violence related?
- How can we promote inclusivism in religion for positive interreligious relations?
By attending the event, participants can expect to gain the following benefits:
- Increased knowledge and awareness of how tendencies to exclusivism and inclusivism occur within and across religious traditions.
- New perspectives on how inclusive attitudes are inherent and may be promoted within religions for promoting greater interreligious understanding and dialogue.
- Awareness of how exclusivist attitudes may, sometimes, be linked to violent and extremist worldviews.
- Global, regional, and local patterns of exclusivist and inclusivist attitudes, worldviews, and ideologies and how these relate to the Singapore context.
About the Speakers
Distinguished Speaker Professor Leonard Swidler is Professor of Catholic Thought and Interreligious Dialogue at Temple University, where he has taught since 1966. At Temple and as a visiting professor at many universities worldwide, he has mentored a generation of international scholars in the work of interreligious dialogue. In 1978, Professor Swidler founded the Dialogue Institute and has been its President since. He is the author of more than 80 books, and co-founder and editor of the quarterly Journal of Ecumenical Studies. He has proposed a ‘Universal Declaration of a Global Ethic’, aimed at different religious, ethnic, and ethical communities in various regions, which encourages work and generates discussion on drafting indigenous versions of a global ethic.
Keynote Speaker Professor Lily Kong is President of the Singapore Management University. An award-winning researcher and teacher, Professor Kong has received five international fellowship awards including the Commonwealth Fellowship Award and the Fulbright Fellowship Award. As a prolific writer, Professor Kong has 13 books and monographs to her name, as well as over 100 papers in international refereed journals and chapters in books. Her major research interests include geographies of religion, cultural economy and cultural policy, cultural and heritage landscapes and constructions of ‘nation’ and national identity.
Keynote Speaker Emeritus Professor Julius Lipner was Professor of Hinduism and the Comparative Study of Religion at the University of Cambridge. His expertise is in the study of Vedantic thought, 19th century Bengal, and intercultural and inter-religious understanding. Professor Lipner has lectured widely in and outside the UK, and has been appointed Visiting Scholar and Visiting Professor in a number of universities across the world. He is currently a Fellow and former Vice-President of Clare Hall – a postgraduate college in the University of Cambridge – and in 2008 he became a Fellow of the British Academy. Professor Lipner is also a Visiting Professor at SRP, RSIS, NTU, and Advisor to SRP.
Keynote Speaker Professor Zhuo Xinping (TBC) is Director of the Institute for the Study of World Religions within the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences since 1998. He has served as president of the Chinese Religious Studies Association since 2001 and has held visiting positions at Tsinghua University and the University of Birmingham. In 2006 he was elected to the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, and in 2008 he was elected to the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress. Dr. Zhuo has authored some 20 books and more than 100 articles on religious studies, with a focus on Christianity and its development around the world and in China.
Keynote Speaker Dr Paul Hedges is Associate Professor in the Studies in Interreligious Relations in Plural Societies (SRP) Programme, RSIS, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. His research areas include interreligious studies, and theory and method in the study of religion. He has published eleven books and over sixty academic papers.