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UWTSD Interfaith Symposium 2018

During this symposium  leaders from different faith backgrounds explained how they engage in interfaith dialogue. Themes such as the visual aspects of spirituality, contemplative religious practices and spirituality and well being were presented by a variety of interfaith scholars and practitioners. The final day stood in the light of the interfaith context in Wales.

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During this guest lecture Dr. Beth Stovell addressed the issue of Divine presence in the Hebrew Bible, and explored its relationship with the Sacred Space. There are three domains where this question is examined- i) Foundational depiction of Divine presence; ii) Need and utility of Divine presence, and iii) Absence of Divine presence. The inspiring talk also engaged in the impact of the concept of “loss” and “exile”, and its implications. The methodological framework used is conceptual metaphorical theory, and the arguments are grounded in critical textual analysis of the Hebrew Bible.


Watch the video here.

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During this annual interfaith dinner members from a variety of faith backgrounds, community members and faith and educational based institutions gathered to celebrate diversity and peaceful coexistence. During the event the Vice-Chancellor Medwin Hughes, Dr. Abdullah Al Lheedan, Saleem Kidwai worked together in The Signing of the Memorandum of Understanding. The signing represents the start of the cooperation between the Muslim Council of Wales and the University of Wales Trinity Saint David. View the signing of the Memorandum here.  

During the dinner the Professional Doctorate students in Interfaith Studies provided a workshop on contemporary interfaith issues and interreligious dialogue.

The conference sponsored by the UWTSD, the Muslim Council of Wales and the Knowledge Exchange Program. During the conference speakers, such as for instance,  Dr. Mustafa Ceric, Grand Mufti Emeritus of Bosnia, Prof. Bettina Schmidt, UWTSD and Dr. Zeid Aldakkan (Ministry of Islamic Affairs and KEP member) from The Knowledge Exchange Program Approach to Peaceful Coexistence, addressed issues of interfaith coexistence from historical, theological and social perspectives.

This three-day conference was organized by the Permanent Delegation of Cote d’Ivoire to UNESCO. It brought together delegations from all over the world to come together and discuss contemporary issues and share good practices surrounding interfaith dialogue.  

Among the speakers were the Permanent Delegation of the Sultanate of Oman to UNESCO, the Permanent Delegation of  the Federal Republic of Nigeria to UNESCO, the World Fellowship of Buddhists (WFB), the Pure land Learning College Association and the Association of Master Chin Kung’s friends at UNESCO and de Delegation from the University of Wales Trinity Saint David.  

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By Shadaab Rahemtulla

The University of Wales Trinity Saint David held an inter-faith symposium on 12-13 July 2017 in Lampeter, bringing together faith leaders and academics from across Wales and the United Kingdom. Given the turbulent political climate of our times, it is crucial to open up an informed space for greater mutual understanding and dialogue between faith communities.

The participants, both faith leaders and academic scholars, represented a diverse range of religions, including Hinduism, Buddhism, Zen Buddhism, Taoism, Judaism, Islam, and Christianity.

The symposium opened on the morning of 12 July with a “Faith Leaders in Dialogue” session, assembling faith leaders from across Wales. Each participant delivered a short presentation on the potential contribution that his/her own faith tradition can make towards attaining peace, social justice, and inter-faith harmony.

The faith leaders included the Venerable Master Chin Kung (Pure Land Buddhist Educational Foundation), Mr. Stanley Soffa (South Wales Jewish Representative Council), and Mr. Saleem Kidwai (Muslim Council of Wales). The rest of the symposium – run during the afternoon of 12 July and the morning of 13 July – was an academic session entitled, “The Future of Inter-Faith Studies” (see above papers).

This session kicked off with a keynote address by a leading inter-faith studies scholar from Singapore – Dr. Paul Hedges, Associate Professor at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, and who also happens to be an alumnus of our university – followed by two panels of papers. The panelists will include: Dr. Ankur Barua (Faculty of Divinity, Cambridge), Dr. Martin Whittingham (Center for Muslim-Christian Studies, Oxford) and Ms. Fatimah Ashrif (Co-Exist House, London).

The purpose of the academic component was (a) to reflect on the present state of the field of inter-faith studies and (b) to envisage and chart new directions in inter-faith thought and practice.

A sampling of the questions the symposium tacked:

  • What do we mean when we use terminology such as “inter-faith”, “co-existence”, and “dialogue”?
  • Which social groups have defined the parameters of the field?
  • Which groups have been largely excluded?
  • What areas – geographies, religious traditions and time periods – have inter-faith studies focused on and, conversely, which areas remain underexplored, even ignored?
  • Likewise, what are the dominant methodological, theoretical, and disciplinary paradigms of the field, and how have these paradigms both enriched and limited our understanding of, and engagement with, the religious Other?
  • How have prevailing political climates, and power relations in general, shaped inter-faith studies and the discourse of dialogue?