SRP 4th Executive Programme 2018
By Nursheila Muez
The Studies in Inter-Religious Relations in Plural Societies (SRP) Programme organised its fourth Executive Programme from 12 to 16 November 2018 for 33 public service officers and members of religious and community organisations. Under the broad theme of Religion, Conflict and Peacebuilding, this year’s programme focused on “Conflict Prevention, Conflict Resolution, Building Resilience through Dialogue”.
It featured a line-up of local and international speakers. Prof Gavin Flood, Oxford University, Prof Abdullah Saeed, Visiting Professor and Advisor to SRP, and Dr Mohamed Ali, SRP invited participants to critically unpack concepts often taken for granted, such as religion, secularism, religious extremism, and religious violence. Through the lectures and discussions, participants were able to appreciate the multiple definitions and understandings of these concepts. Meanwhile, Dr Shashi Jayakumar, Centre of Excellence for National Security, RSIS, weighed in on the “Clash of Civilisations” debate, in view of rising right-wing extremism and majoritarianism in Europe and Asia, and the challenges these trends pose to Singapore.
Equipped with theoretical groundwork and background, participants were better able to assess how dialogue can contribute to building resilient and cohesive societies. SRP’ Assoc Prof Paul Hedges introduced participants to the principles of and approaches to inter-religious dialogue. For effective dialogue, an understanding of both theory and practice is equally crucial.
King Abdullah International Centre for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue (KAICIID)’s Senior Advisor, Assoc Prof Patrice Brodeur, who also works at the University of Montreal, presented the Canadian example, particularly highlighting grassroots initiatives in organising inter-religious dialogue and promoting inter-religious literacy.
Prof Tatsushi Arai, School for International Training Graduate Institute, the United States, shared his expertise on conflict resolution and conflict transformation from a peace practitioner’s point of view. Using the Rohingya issue as a case study, participants could put into practice peacebuilding skills and techniques that they learnt during the programme.
Local interfaith practitioners, Mr Gerald Kong, Archdiocesan Catholic Council for Interreligious Dialogue, Mr Mohamed Imran, Harmony Centre, Islamic Religious Council of Singapore, and Mr Mohamed Irshad, Roses of Peace, an NGO, shared their experiences in building inter-religious capacities through various activities in Singapore.
Participants also had an insightful visit to the Maghain Aboth Synagogue, a first-time experience for many, to learn about Judaism and the history of the Jewish community in Singapore. The programme concluded with group work presentations by the participants, who worked on specific local case studies during the five days.
Related SRP Events:
- Countering Fundamentalism: Perspectives from Buddhism and Other Religions
- Certificate in Islamic Thought in Contemporary Plural Societies
- CTIS-SRP Joint Workshop on Dialogue Skills and Theories
Last updated on 23/01/2019