RPP Colloquium 2015–16

Launched by Dean David N. Hempton of HDS in 2014, this monthly public series convenes a cross-disciplinary RPP Working Group of faculty, experts, graduate students, and alumni from across Harvard’s Schools 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.

Below are videos of the RPP Colloquium Series from 2015-16.

The RPP Colloquium was organized in 2016 with generous support from the El-Hibri Foundation and The Reverend Karen Vickers Budney, MDiv '91, and Mr. Albert J. Budney, Jr., MBA '74.

Join us for upcoming public sessions of the RPP Colloquium. Visit Upcoming Events for details and how to RSVP.

Susan Hayward speaks on Women and PeacebuildingRPP Colloquium: Women Religious Leaders in the Struggle for Peace
September 24, 2015

The session featured Rev. Susan Hayward, Director, Religion and Inclusive Societies, U.S. Institute of Peace; HDS ’07 graduate; co-editor, Women, Religion, and Peacebuilding: Illuminating the Unseen (USIP Press, 2015). Rev. Hayward directs USIP’s religious peacebuilding program, which seeks to recognize religious dynamics in violent conflict and develop strategies for engaging religious actors and factors to transform drivers of violence and build sustainable peace. Hayward discussed the aforementioned volume she had co-edited, offering reflections on the opportunities and challenges women religious leaders across faiths and regions face as they navigate complex conflicts and power dynamics in institutions to accomplish their goals.

The event was moderated by Ann D. Braude, Senior Lecturer on American Religious History and Director of the Women’s Studies in Religion Program at Harvard Divinity School.

Cosponsored by the Women’s Studies in Religion Program at Harvard Divinity School.

Watch video: September 2015 RPP Colloquium on Women Religious Leaders

Nathan Funk discusses with RPP Working Group student before his presentation.RPP Colloquium: Making Peace with Islam: Islamic Approaches to Peacemaking
October 15, 2015

The session featured Nathan C. Funk, Associate Professor of Peace and Conflict Studies at Conrad Grebel University College, University of Waterloo, in Ontario, Canada and co-author of Islam and Peacemaking in the Middle East, and Peace and Conflict Resolution in Islam: Precept and Practice. Examining Islamic peace teachings and paradigms within a larger comparative context, Dr. Funk explored both the distinctiveness of Islamic approaches to peacemaking and ways in which Islamic experiences of conflict and peace mirror those of other communities. Particular attention was given to themes emphasized by Muslim peacebuilders, and to examples of various ways in which Islamic precepts have been applied to support restorative justice, nonviolent social justice advocacy, and interfaith understanding.

The event was moderated by Ali S. Asani, Professor of Indo-Muslim and Islamic Religion and Cultures in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences and Director of the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Islamic Studies Program at Harvard University.

It marked the launch of a new lecture series on Islam and the Practice of Peace sponsored by the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Islamic Studies Program at Harvard University and RPP.

Watch video: October 2015 RPP Colloquium on Islamic Peacemaking

Daniel Shapiro discusses the emotional factors of conflict.RPP Colloquium: Bridging the Religious Divide: Transforming Conflict When Emotions and Religion are at Play
November 19, 2015 

The session featured Daniel L. Shapiro, founder and director of the  Harvard International Negotiation Program, associate professor of psychology, Harvard Medical School/McLean Hospital, and affiliate faculty in the Program on Negotiation, Harvard Law School. Dr. Shapiro discussed hidden emotional factors that fuel conflict and presented an innovative model for using emotions constructively to promote conflict transformation. He described how this model had been utilized in high-stakes conflicts and offered insights into how it could be drawn upon to overcome conflict when religious identities are at stake. 

Respondent Rev. Dr. Septemmy E. Lakawa, ThD, Jakarta Theological Seminary, Indonesia and Research Associate and Visiting Assistant Professor of Women's Studies and Theology, Women’s Studies in Religion Program, HDS spoke in light of her research on “The Landscape of Trauma and the Aesthetic of Interreligious Peace: an Indonesian Case of Christian-Muslim Relations.”

The event was moderated by Jeffrey R. Seul, Lecturer on the Practice of Peace at Harvard Divinity School, Chairman of the Peace Appeal Foundation, and partner in the law firm of Holland & Knight.

Cosponsored by the Harvard International Negotiation Program and the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School.

Pastor James and Imam Ashafa share their peacebuilding experience in Nigeria.Keynote Event: RPP Colloquium on The Pastor and the Imam from Nigeria: Interfaith Strategy for Peacebuilding: Prospects and Challenges
December 10, 2015

The session featured Pastor Dr. James Movel Wuye and Imam Dr. Muhammad Nurayn Ashafa, Co-Executive Directors, Interfaith Mediation Centre, Kaduna, Nigeria. Formerly rival youth militia leaders engaged in violent clashes between Christians and Muslims, the Pastor and Imam were inspired by the teachings of their respective faith traditions to pursue the path of peace. The two faith leaders shared their two-decade journey from vengeance to forgiveness and from enmity to friendship, through which they moved beyond tolerance to pragmatic conflict transformation and mitigation. They discussed the faith-based psycho-social counseling they provide to victims of the insurgency in Northern Nigeria and their work to bridge gaps caused by unhealed collective memories of past perceived injustices through North-South dialogue among ethno-religious and socio-political groups focusing on women, youth, and adults in target communities. They also provided insights into the prospects and challenges of interreligious peacebuilding in the face of insurgency and violent extremism and offered strategy recommendations.

The event was moderated by Diana L. Eck, Professor of Comparative Religion and Indian Studies; Fredrick Wertham Professor of Law and Psychiatry in Society in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences; member of the Faculty of Divinity at Harvard Divinity School; and Director of the Pluralism Project at Harvard University.

Cosponsored by the Department of Conflict Resolution, Human Security, and Global Governance at UMass Boston and the The Pluralism Project at Harvard University. Additional generous support for the 2015 keynote events was provided by the Provostial Fund for the Arts and Humanities at Harvard University.

Watch video: December 2015 RPP Colloquium on The Pastor and the Imam

Scott Appleby responses to a question and answer session with moderator Dean David Hempton.RPP Colloquium: Integral Human Development and the Moral Imagination: Implications for Religion, Development, and Peacebuilding
January 28, 2016

The session featured R. Scott Appleby, PhD, professor of history and Marilyn Keough Dean of Notre Dame’s Keough School of Global Affairs and author or editor of more than 15 books, including The Ambivalence of the Sacred: Religion, Violence, and Reconciliation; The Fundamentalism Project; Peacebuilding: Catholic Theology, Ethics, and Praxis; and, most recently, The Oxford Handbook of Religion, Conflict, and Peacebuilding.

Integral Human Development (IHD), a concept articulated in Roman Catholic social teaching and resonant in other religious and secular traditions, levels a serious critique at narrowly technical and secular global efforts to build peace, eradicate poverty and provide basic human needs such as health care and education to underdeveloped societies. Reading IHD through the lens of Lederach’s rendering of the moral imagination allows us to envision and elaborate a sustainable partnership between professional development actors, peacebuilders, and religious communities. This talk unpacked and defended this argument.

The event was moderated by HDS Dean David N. Hempton, Alonzo L. McDonald Family Professor of Evangelical Theological Studies and John Lord O'Brian Professor of Divinity.

Watch video: January 2016 RPP Colloquium on Moral Imagination

Ven Bhikkhu Bodhi and Dr. Julie Nelson engage on the topic of climate change.RPP Colloquium: Buddhist Responses to Climate Change
February 18, 2016

The session featured Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi, chair of Buddhist Global Relief and president of the Buddhist Association of the United States (BAUS). Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi presented on "The Four Noble Truths of the Climate Crisis." The four noble truths are the template the Buddha used to diagnose the problem of human suffering. With suitable adjustments, this same formula can be employed as a lens through which to examine the contemporary climate crisis. In this presentation, scholar-monk Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi used the four truths to explore the deep origins of the crisis and describe an "eightfold path" as a solution to avoid impending calamity.

Also featured was Julie A. Nelson, PhD, Professor of Economics at the University of Massachusetts Boston, Senior Research Fellow with the Global Development and Environment Institute at Tufts University, and a Dharma teacher in the Boundless Way Zen school. Dr. Nelson's talk was entitled "Beyond ‘Small is Beautiful': Buddhism and the Economics of Climate Change." An active member of feminist, ecological, and social economics networks, Dr. Nelson is the author of Economics for Humans, as well as many other books and articles. Her work has been published in journals ranging from the American Economic Review and Econometrica to Ecological Economics, Ethics & the Environment, and the Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion. She lives in a cooperative household in Arlington.

Climate change is a stark reminder of our thoroughgoing interconnectedness. We all bear the risks and burdens of maltreatment of the global ecosystem that sustains and depends upon us. None of us can reduce these risks and burdens alone. Buddhist leaders from many traditions have issued an urgent call for a collective response, "The Time to Act is Now: A Buddhist Declaration on Climate Change." This session explored Buddhist resources that can help us to care for the earth and all of its inhabitants, and how these resources can be brought to bear in the most effective ways.

The event was moderated by Charles Hallisey, Yehan Numata Senior Lecturer on Buddhist Literatures.

Cosponsored by the Buddhist Ministry Initiative at Harvard Divinity School.

Watch video: February 2016 RPP Colloquium on Buddhism and Climate Change

Dr. Rev. David Hooker speaks with panel moderator Dr. Catherine Brekus.RPP Colloquium: Transforming Racialized Divides in the US: Insights from the African-European American Experience
March 24, 2016

The session featured Dr. Leah Gunning Francis, Associate Dean of Contextual Education and Assistant Professor of Christian Education at Eden Theological Seminary. She presented on "A Boy, A Wrestler and the Racialized Imaginiation: (En)Countering Narrative in Ferguson and Beyond." In her timely book Ferguson and Faith: Sparking Leadership and Awakening Community, Dr. Gunning Francis interviewed a few dozen clergy and young activists who responded to the Ferguson uprising and used their stories to construct a narrative grounded in the imago dei, and unearths critical insights for living into a future filled with hope.

Also featured was Rev. Dr. David Anderson Hooker, member of Staff Collective, JustPeace, The United Methodist Church’s Center for Conflict Transformation, a minister for Local and Global Missions, First Congregational Church (UCC) in Atlanta, Georgia and co-author of Transforming Historical Harms and the forthcoming Little Book of Transformative Community Conferencing. He presented on "Transforming Historical Harms: Performing Historical and Spiritual Narratives to Transform Race, Privilege, Fear, and Faith." Considering contemporary racialized conflicts in the US, referencing efforts in Mississippi, Greensboro, North Carolina following its Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and dialogue among descendants of former enslavers and enslaved, Hooker discussed the impact of multi-generational trauma on the performance of identity and the use of spiritual narratives as hindrance or help in pursuit of transformation and reconciliation.

The event was moderated by Catherine Brekus, Charles Warren Professor of the History of Religion in America.

Cosponsored by the Racial Justice and Healing Initiative at Harvard Divinity School.

Watch video: March 2016 RPP Colloquium on Transforming Racialized Divides

Dr. Marc Gopin speaks about his peacebuilding experience at the RPP Colloquium.RPP Colloquium: Humanitarianism, Religion, and Peace Practice
April 14, 2016

The session featured Dr. Marc Gopin, Director of the Center for World Religions, Diplomacy and Conflict Resolution (CRDC) and James H. Laue Professor at the School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution at George Mason University, who presented on “The Ethical and Spiritual Foundations of Judaic Conflict Resolution Practice and Peacebuilding: A Thirty Year Journey.” Successful long-term peacebuilding is founded on how we discipline ourselves to think, feel and act—as individuals, as communities, and as civilizations. Unbounded empathy, for example, is essential to the reasoning necessary to create universal moral intuitions and ethical/political rules. Women and men are essential to this process as equals; this creates the most peace. Judaism has a reservoir of ancient wisdom sayings and rules that sometimes generate this vital evolution of peace practice.

Also featured was Dr. Elizabeth H. Prodromou, Visiting Associate Professor of Conflict Resolution at The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University, who presented on “Orthodox Christianity, Humanitarianism, and Peacebuilding: Crisis, Sustainability, Human Security." Orthodox Christian thought and practices are providing critical, innovative, and continuous resources for some of the world's most urgent humanitarian and peacebuilding needs, whether generated by conflict-related crises or by sustainable development challenges. The talk introduced the lived theology of Orthodox Christianity as it relates to the field of humanitarianism and, more broadly, to ideas about humanitarianism as they relate to peace. A stylized sampling of cases was drawn from the Byzantine period, the pre-nation-state period, and the contemporary (neo/post) Westphalian era, with suggestive conclusions about how Orthodox Christian experiences with humanitarianism could help to enrich current social science and practitioner approaches to human security as intrinsic to peace.

This event was moderated by Visiting Professor of Religion and Politics Jocelyne Cesari, director of The Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Islamic Studies' Islam in the West program.

Watch video: April 2016 RPP Colloquium on Humanitarianism

Professor Diane Moore and CEO of Tanenbaum Joyce Dubensky take questions from the audience.RPP Colloquium: The Evolving Field of Religious Peacebuilding: Tanenbaum's Peacemakers in Action, Volume II
May 5, 2016

The session featured Hind Kabawat, director of Interfaith Peacebuilding, George Mason University’s Center for World Religions Diplomacy & Conflict Resolution, and Tanenbaum Peacemaker in Action. Tanenbaum CEO Joyce Dubensky and Tanenbaum’s Syrian Peacemaker Hind Kabawat discussed Tanenbaum’s groundbreaking new book Peacemakers in Action: Profiles in Religious Peacebuilding Volume II. As a religiously-motivated peacemaker working in Syria and surrounding areas, Kabawat shared insights on the challenges and opportunities in religious peacebuilding. Dubensky explored the evolving field of religious peacebuilding and the individuals who make it their profession—including Tanenbaum Peacemakers, who so often work in violent conflicts and now collaborate through their Peacemakers Network for in-country interventions.

The event was moderated by HDS Senior Lecturer on Religious Studies and Education Diane L. Moore, director of the Religious Literacy Project.

Cosponsored by the Religious Literacy Project at Harvard Divinity School.

Watch video: May 2016 RPP Colloquium on Religious Peacebuilding