Thursday, February 21, 2008

On Religion and Social Cohesion: Theme for next Association of Baha'i Studies conference

The next Association of Baha'i Studies conference is in San Diego. -gw

32nd ABS Annual Conference
August 29 – September 1, 2008
Theme Statement: Religion and Social Cohesion

The past decade has witnessed a resurgence of interest in the role that religion can play as a source of social conflict, on the one hand, and a force of social cohesion on the other. The roots of the term religion denote a force that binds human beings together – a force of social cohesion. In this regard, religion continues to play a primary role in identity formation even as it reaches to the deepest wells of human commitment and motivation. The Bahá’í Faith, while acknowledging abuses and corruptions of the religious impulse, “declares the purpose of religion to be the promotion of amity and concord, proclaims its essential harmony with science, and recognizes it as the foremost agency for the pacification and the orderly progress of human society.”

Recent expressions of religious intolerance, conflict and violence have caused leaders of thought, policy makers, and academics to ponder if, or how, religion can play a more constructive role in processes of social integration. How can this force that binds people together, shapes human identities, and reaches to the depths of human motivation, be aligned with the construction of a peaceful, just, and sustainable social order in an age of increasing interdependence among the world’s diverse peoples?

You are invited to explore these themes at the 32nd annual conference of the North American Association for Bahá'í Studies. New and experienced presenters and participants, from all backgrounds and disciplines, are welcome. Possible topics for presentation might include, but are not limited to: the role of the global plans of the Bahá'í community in promoting social cohesion; implications of a Bahá'í culture of learning for processes of social integration; the critique of religion articulated within the “new atheist” discourse of Dawkins, Hitchens, Harris, and others; social cohesion, public policy, and effective governance; processes of social integration and disintegration; the religious construction of social reality; the psychology of human motivation and identity formation; religion in social development; the forces of attraction and the science of cohesion; and the sources of, and solutions to, religious conflict.

Call for Presentations

Proposals are invited for presentations and workshops on (but not limited to) the above themes, as well as themes pertaining to creative and conceptual processes within the performing arts, visual arts, and other modes of artistic expression.

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