The Studies in Inter-Religious Relations in Plural Societies Programme (SRP) hosted a seminar themed “Social Cohesion: Is Religion a Help or Hindrance?” featuring Rev Dr Alan Race, who spoke on the challenges of creating, maintaining, and sustaining social cohesion in contemporary societies. Dr Race is the Chairperson of the World Congress of Faiths. The seminar was co-moderated by Associate Professor Paul Hedges from SRP and Dr Lee Foong Ming, Assistant Professor at the Buddhist College of Singapore (BCS).
Held on 10 September 2022, the seminar was attended by students from BCS and RSIS, and delegates of the International Conference on Cohesive Societies. Dr Race addressed some of the new challenges that societies face today, brought on by waves of migration and incidents of civil unrest that have resulted in greater factionalism and division. He noted that focusing solely on fostering social cohesion alone could leave underlying tensions around theological and ideological differences unresolved. Dr Race posed a riveting question at the end of his talk: what have we, as humans, learned about religion over the decades of interreligious and intrapersonal interactions?
During the question-and-answer session, participants engaged with Dr Race over concerns regarding the challenges of achieving social cohesion in their respective societies brought on by the rise of multifaith consciousness, along with the need to balance internal diversity while maintaining inclusiveness in the respective societies. The session ended with a networking session over refreshments generously provided by the BCS.