RPP Colloquium

Religions and the Practice of Peace Colloquium Series

This monthly public series, convened by Dean David N. Hempton of HDS, brings together a cross-disciplinary RPP Working Group of faculty, experts, graduate students, and alumni from across Harvard University and the local area to explore topics and cases in religions and the practice of peace. A diverse array of scholars, leaders, and religious peacebuilders are invited to present and engage with the RPP Working Group and general audience. A light dinner is served and a brief reception follows the program.

RPP Colloquium Series in 2018-19: February 14, March 14, and April 11 from 6:00-8:30 pm.

RPP Colloquium: "Indigenous Guardianship, Nature, and Peace: Holistic Being and Living"
Thursday, April 11, 2019

Margarita Mora, Director of Partnerships at Nia Tero, provided an overview of indigenous guardianship and the need to use holistic approaches that do not split indigenous peoples' identity and culture from the management and protection of their territories. She shared experiences where indigenous peoples' efforts to strengthen guardianship over their territories has also led to them strengthening their culture and practices and to reducing conflict. 

Indira S. Raimberdy, Executive Director at the Peace Building Center, shared a comparative analysis of indigenous culture and religious systems dominating Kyrgyzstan and Central Asia, and talked about the importance of indigenous culture as a coherent system of values and life practices that can enhance peace potential at both individual and collective levels. Joined virtually.

The talk was moderated by Dan McKanan, Ralph Waldo Emerson Unitarian Universalist Association Senior Lecturer in Divinity at Harvard Divinity School, and cosponsored by the Sustainability and Health Initiative for Net Positive Enterprise (SHINE) at MIT.

Keynote RPP Colloquium: Promoting the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals: Women's Leadership, Religion, and Leveraging Scholarship
Thursday, March 14, 2019

Dr. Alaa Murabit discussed the promotion of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), highlighting the intersection between women's leadership, religion, and sustainable development. She presented unique examples of women's religious leadership to advance human rights, societal development, and peacebuilding and explored the importance of leveraging religious scholarship.

Featuring Dr. Alaa Murabit, UN High-Level Commissioner and SDG Global Advocate; and moderator and discussant Professor Jocelyne Cesari, T. J. Dermot Dunphy Visiting Professor of Religion, Violence, and Peacebuilding for 2018-19 at Harvard Divinity School. Cosponsored by the Women's Studies in Religion Program at Harvard Divinity School.

Keynote RPP Special Interactive Workshops: Emerging Security Threats and Stakeholder Mapping and Negotiation and Alliance Building in Sensitive and Conflict Environments with Multiple Stakeholders
Wednesday, March 13 and Thursday, March 14, 2019

Led by Dr. Alaa Murabit, UN High-Level Commissioner and SDG Global Advocate. 

RPP Special Interactive Workshop: The Kilombo: Lessons Learned from the (First) Democratic Multicultural Multi-Faith Republics in the Americas
Friday, February 15, 2019

In this session, participants learned about Afro/Indigenous practices inspired by the countless African and AfroBrazilian Kilombos such as Capoeira Angola. These were considered the first Democratic Multicultural Multi-Faith Republics in the Americas, formed by Africans transported to Brazil in the Middle Passage with Aboriginal Natives, and White Portuguese dissenters from the slave trade. 

Zumbi (Courtney Grey) is initiated in multiple indigenous cultures and co-founded the group—Kilombo Novo “New Roaming Community.” He strives to reconstruct Bantu principles on peacemaking, conflict resolution and serving those most impacted by oppression, trauma, terrorism, and disaster. He has taught internationally, and has served Lakota/Sioux, Cambodian, Bosnian, Cape Verdean, Haitian and several other populations after trauma and disaster including the Marathon Bombing and Parkland, FL. He is published and graduated from MIT.

RPP Colloquium: Indigenous Perspectives on Peacemaking in the Face of Racism, Religious Exodus, Oppression, and Unfair Exposure to Trauma and Disaster
Thursday, February 14, 2019

Reimagine the very definition of peace as we explore the intersection of racism, oppression, urban trauma, disaster, and other social realities faced by those desperately in need of peace. More than the absence of violence and war, we need the aggressive and proactive generation of peace, healing, and bliss under a continuing barrage of compromises to health and well-being. What is peace? How do we create it when there is little? Who deserves peacemaking?

Featuring Zumbi, founder, Kilombo Novo; director, Trauma Response and Recovery at Boston Public Health Commission, moderator Emily Click, assistant dean for Ministry Studies and Field Education and Lecturer on Ministry at Harvard Divinity School, and discussant David Harris, managing director, Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice (CHHIRJ) at Harvard Law School. Cosponsored by CHHIRJ.

RPP Colloquium: Natural “SuperCooperation” and the Future of Our Human Family: Evolutionary Dynamics, Altruistic Virtues, and Spiritual Resources
Thursday, December 6, 2018

Evolution is an organizing principle of the living world. While competition is integral to evolution, cooperation can be seen as the master architect of biological complexity, language, and culture. Human beings have emerged from this evolutionary process as “SuperCooperators.” Nowak discussed the scientific interpretation of evolution and its compatibility with Christian theology, which holds that God is the primary cause for all that exists, the creator and sustainer of the universe. 

In conversation with members of the Sustainable Peace Initiative, Nowak offered insights on how evolutionary dynamics, altruistic virtues of “SuperCooperation,” and spiritual resources can be leveraged to advance sustainable peace and on the potential role of universities.

Featuring Martin Nowak, Professor of Mathematics and of Biology at Harvard University and director of the Program for Evolutionary Dynamics, moderator and discussant Janet Gyatso, Hershey Professor of Buddhist Studies and associate dean for faculty and academic affairs at Harvard Divinity School, and discussant Anne Monius, Professor of South Asian Religions at Harvard Divinity School.

RPP Colloquium: Urban Alchemy, Post-Conflict Healing: Art Transforms
Thursday, October 18, 2018

This session informed the Sustainable Peace Initiative featured artist Lily Yeh. To heal the wounded, to reconnect the broken, and to make the invisible visible have been the goals of her life’s work. Yeh described her most important projects in the US, China, Kenya, and Rwanda, demonstrating how art can be used to heal individuals and transform communities. She discussed the forces and moments that have shaped her life and work, and showed how her work has inspired others to take action.

Featuring Lily Yeh, MFA, University of Pennsylvania; moderator Melissa W. Bartholomew, MDiv '15 HDS; Racial Justice Fellow and cofounder of the Racial Justice and Healing Initiative student group at Harvard Divinity School; PhD student, and MSW '17 at Boston College School of Social Work; JD '97, Howard University School of Law; creator of Healers of the Wound; and discussant Terry Tempest Williams, Writer-in-Residence at Harvard Divinity School; cofounder of The Constellation Project committed to cross-disciplinary conversations regarding planetary health and environmental justice; resident of Castle Valley, Utah.

CSWR Event and RPP Colloquium: The Public Practice of Abrahamic Religions
Thursday, September 27, 2018 

It is commonplace today to group the three monotheistic religions—Judaism, Christianity, and Islam—under the category of the “Abrahamic.” Scholars have investigated the roots, ancient and modern, for this category, and continue to debate its contemporary merits. Meanwhile, practitioners are doing significant work in the wider world under the aegis of the “Abrahamic.” This panel explored the public practice of the Abrahamic Religions. Panelists reflected on their work in light of this category, including its strengths and limitations.

Featuring Huda Abuarquob, Alliance for Middle East Peace, Joseph Montville, George Mason University, Stephanie Saldaña, The Abraham Path, and chaired by Charles Stang, Harvard Divinty School. 

An Event of the Center for the Study of World Religions (CSWR) and an RPP Colloquium. Cosponsored with the John Paul II Center for Interreligious Dialogue.

Visit the RPP Video Archive to view videos and full descriptions of past RPP Colloquium sessions since 2014, including the 2018-19 sessions.

The RPP Colloquium was hosted in 2018-19 with generous support from The Reverend Karen Vickers Budney, MDiv '91 and Mr. Albert J. Budney, Jr., MBA '74, the Once Here Foundation, as well as the Provostial Fund for the Arts and Humanities at Harvard University.