Second Spring Colloquium

Second Spring Colloquium

Posted by: on April 7, 2016   |Comments (0)|Theology classes in Rome

This week the P.C. in Rome program hosted the second academic colloquium of the Spring semester.  Our topic was “Muslims in Europe: Immigration and Integration”.  Academic colloquia are important events which enhance the academic conversation in our program and provide opportunities to focus on issues of contemporary culture and society. Typically, local experts are invited to speak about their field, their recent research, and implications for current events.

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Our distinguished speaker was Dr. Mustafa Cenap Aydin, director of the Tevere Institute for Intercultural and Interreligious Dialogue here in Rome. The title of his hour long presentation was “The Youngest Son of Abraham and/ of/ to Europe: Muslims in Europe between Immigration, Violence, and Dialogue”.

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Currently he is a visiting fellow at the Institute for the Study of Philosophy, Politics, and Religion at the Wolfson College, in Cambridge, England.  His remarks were the result of his current scholarship.  He began with a discussion of the relationship between majority and minority religions in the history of Europe, tracing the emergence of Christianity and later Islam in Europe.

IMG_1173Dr. Aydin then unpacked the notions of citizenship and religion as well as how secularism has been defined in European history.  He also stressed the definitions of “Islam(s) and Islamism(s)” suggesting that Islam is not monolithic either in its history or in its current manifestations.

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Perhaps the most challenging part of his talk was about the growth of the modern nation state and realities of secular citizenship.  That is, a model of citizenship wherein religion is not and cannot be expressed in the public sphere.

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Through the use of historical and contemporary examples, Dr. Aydin outlined citizenship and religious identity issues facing Muslims in Europe.  The discussion was helpful in giving our students a wider perspective, a cultural sensitivity, and a religious appreciation of what the European Union is facing in the re-emergence of Islam in its member states.  “Identity politics” is a very hot topic, and one which the students can now understand, perhaps, on a much deeper level.

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This week’s academic colloquium helped to raise the level of academic engagement among students and faculty. It’s experiences like this that help to ensure that our time here is not spent simply in “study tourism” but in “study abroad” – learning in the context of a culture and society that is different from our own.

Go Friars!

 

 

This week the P.C. in Rome program hosted the second academic colloquium of the Spring semester.  Our topic was “Muslims in Europe: Immigration and Integration”.  Academic colloquia are important events which enhance the academic conversation in our program and provide opportunities to focus on issues of contemporary culture and society. Typically, local experts are invited to […]MORE

Immigration, Refugees, and the E.U.

Posted by: on March 24, 2016   |Comments (0)|Theology classes in Rome

This week the PC in Rome program had its first academic colloquium of the semester.  These colloquia are organized a few times a semester by CEA and the PC Center for Theology and Religious Studies.  They are important events which enhance the academic conversation in our program and provide opportunities to focus on issues of contemporary culture and society. Typically, local experts are invited to speak about their field, their recent research, and implications for current events.

This semester it was decided to focus on the immigration crisis in the European Union.  There is a course running at CEA this Spring called: “Immigration, Race, and Identity” and the professor, Dr. Volker Kaul, invited a colleague, Dr. Daniele Archibugi, to offer an academic colloquium on this challenging and controversial topic.

Dr. Archibugi is a research director at the Italian National Research Council in Rome and is affiliated with the Institute on Population and Social Policy.  His work centers on the economics and policy of innovation and technological change and on the political theory of international relations.

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Dr. Archibugi began his lecture tracing the history of the refugee crisis in Europe after the Second World War.  The creation of the 1951 U.N. Refugee Convention and its critera for seeking asylum and the principle of “non-refoulement” were the focus of his remarks.  After this historical overview, he explained the current crisis in the E.U. and offered some observations on the obligations of the international community, the necessity of welfare and financial assistance, and the uneven burden of refugees across the various countries.

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The lecture went on to unpack the challenges facing refugees including integration into the host society, problems of public order, unemployment, and aspirations of citizenship.  He also explained the creation of new political parties in Europe specifically to close the borders to refugees and combat immigration.

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His talk challenged the students with some thought provoking questions near the end: How do we distinguish economic migrants from refugees?  How can benefits for immigrants be standardized across the E.U.? And, after one year, are these people still refugees?

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The notion of “hospitality” was his final challenge.  Yes, most E.U. citizens want to be hospitable to those seeking asylum for political, racial, and religious reasons.  But, as a community of nations, the E. U. needs to decide how much of the burden is given to each country.  A standardized system of “welcome and welfare” needs to be articulated for all countries.

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After the lecture, I reminded some of the P.C. students that Pope Francis has spoken many times on the topic of refugees and immigration in his homilies, Angelus messages, and public speeches. In fact, just recently on Palm Sunday, during his homily, he departed from his prepared text to speak about this issue.

Diverting from his prepared remarks, the pope drew a parallel between Jesus being abandoned to his fate and European countries that are refusing to help the more than 1 million immigrants that have fled to Europe seeking refuge from persecution, war, and hunger in Iraq, Syria, and northern Africa.

Jesus was “denied every justice,” the pope said. “Jesus also suffered on his own skin indifference, because no one wanted to take on the responsibility for his destiny.” “I am thinking of so many other people, so many marginalized people, so many asylum seekers, so many refugees,” Francis said. “There are so many who don’t want to take responsibility for their destiny.”

“There they are, at the border, because so many doors and so many hearts are closed,” he said. “Today’s migrants suffer from the cold, without food, and with no way to enter. They don’t feel welcome.”

This week’s academic colloquium helped to raise the level of academic engagement among students and faculty. It’s experiences like this that help to ensure that our time here is not spent simply in “study tourism” but in “study abroad” – learning in the context of a culture and society that is different from our own.

 

Go Friars!

 

 

 

This week the PC in Rome program had its first academic colloquium of the semester.  These colloquia are organized a few times a semester by CEA and the PC Center for Theology and Religious Studies.  They are important events which enhance the academic conversation in our program and provide opportunities to focus on issues of […]MORE

Diplomacy, Religion, and Conflict Resolution: A View from the Field

Posted by: on November 22, 2015   |Comments (0)|Theology classes in Rome

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Besides taking classes, going on site visits, and participating in cultural experiences in Italy, our students also attend academic colloquia each semester.This past week our PC in Rome Program sponsored an academic colloquium at CEA with Victoria Alvarado, the Deputy Chief of Mission of the U.S. Embassy to the Vatican.

Her lecture topic was “Diplomacy, Religion, and Conflict Resolution”.  She spoke about her experience in promoting religious freedom and diplomacy and partnering with religious leaders worldwide to work for peace in the face of violent extremism.

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A career diplomat, Mrs. Alvarado joined the U.S. State Department in 1996.  She has held a range of overseas and domestic assignments focused on Latin America, Muslim-majority countries, and on the nexus between national security and religion.  Mrs. Alvarado recently completed a senior-level Master’s degree program at the National Defense University’s College of International Security Affairs, where her thesis assessed the effectiveness of partnerships between governments and religious leaders in countering violent extremism.

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Coming just five days after the Paris attacks, her topic, peace building in the face of violent religious extremism, was very apropos.  Mrs. Alvarado began by tracing the history of religious freedom in the United States and explaining how embedded it is in the American project. She then explained how the U.S. State Department has evolved in its treatment of religion as a serious part of diplomacy. This is because of the growing importance of religion to foreign policy and national security.

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Mrs. Alvarado’s Washington assignments have included director of the Office for International Religious Freedom, strategic planning adviser for the Bureau of Conflict Stabilization Operations, and director for Central America and Caribbean Affairs at the National Security Council. She commenced her assignment as Deputy Chief of Mission of the U.S. Embassy to the Holy See in August 2014.

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She explained the multi-pronged approach that the U.S. State Department has in incorporating religion into the education, mandate, and policies of American diplomats around the world.  This is evident in the Religion and Foreign Policy working group, the Secretary of State’s religion and foreign policy mandate, and the creation of the post of senior adviser on religious minorities.

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After her lecture, there was a robust question and answer period during which many students asked about current affairs, the refugee crisis, the reality of ISIS, and the U.S. government’s policies to combat violent religious extremism. In fact, Mrs. Alvarado ended up staying longer than expected to interact with students and answer  every last question from the floor. Afterward there was a reception where the conversation continued over refreshments.

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The purpose of these colloquia sponsored by CEA and PC each semester is to give students and faculty an opportunity to interact outside of the classroom in high quality academic exchange and dialogue.  Indeed, our Fall Colloquium helped to “keep the study in study abroad” – which is always one of our mottoes here in Rome. Keeping the kind of academic integrity that Providence College expects and requires is a constant focus of our programming.  And our evening with Deputy Chief of Mission Alvarado did just that.

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Go Friars!

 

 

Besides taking classes, going on site visits, and participating in cultural experiences in Italy, our students also attend academic colloquia each semester.This past week our PC in Rome Program sponsored an academic colloquium at CEA with Victoria Alvarado, the Deputy Chief of Mission of the U.S. Embassy to the Vatican. Her lecture topic was “Diplomacy, […]MORE

Vatican Ambassador Ken Hackett Visits P.C. In Rome

Posted by: on April 11, 2014   |Comments (0)|Uncategorized

This week the Providence College Center for Theology and Religious Studies held its Spring Academic Colloquium.

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We were pleased to welcome His Excellency Mr. Kenneth Hackett , who graciously accepted our invitation to visit and address our student body. Mr. Hackett is the current United States Ambassador to the Holy See. He was nominated to the post by President Barack Obama in June 2013, confirmed by the Senate in August 2013, and he presented his Credentials to Pope Francis on 21 October 2013.

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Ambassador Hackett, originally of West Roxbury, Massachusetts, earned his undergraduate degree from Boston College. He then joined the Peace Corps, and served in Ghana. Afterwards, he joined Catholic Relief Services, an international humanitarian agency supported by the U.S. Catholic community, serving in Africa and Asia. He became president of Catholic Relief Services in 1993.  And as President, Ambassador Hackett led 5,000 CRS employees in over 100 countries.

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It was under his leadership that CRS responded to recovery efforts such as those following the Rwanda genocide, the Bosnian and Kosovo emergencies, the Asian tsunami, and the Haiti earthquake. Equally notable during his tenure as President was CRS’s work on behalf of people living with HIV/AIDS.  Mr. Hackett retired from that post in 2012.

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His Excellency and Mrs. Hackett have two children and most recently have been residents of Maryland and Florida.  But now, of course, they are residents of the Eternal City.  The Hackett’s more than 40 year history of working in the field of international human development brings a unique dimension to the service of diplomacy to the Vatican.

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I asked the Ambassador to speak to us about his former work in developing countries and his new service in diplomacy here in Rome.  The title for his presentation was: “From Charity Work to Diplomatic Service: A Personal View”.

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He spoke to us of his personal journey beginning from his days at Boston college as an undergraduate trying to decide on a career.  Joining the Peace Corps was a somewhat spontaneous decision, but one which proved to set a course for the rest of his life.  He spoke passionately about how “service to others” is the most rewarding life.  He challenged our students not to decide on a job “just because it pays a lot of money”.  But, rather to do “‘something which makes you happy” and “stretches you and your imagination”.

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At the heart of his presentation was his explanation of his commitment to Catholic social teaching and how his work at Catholic Relief Services was shaped by it every step of the way.  He explained how as President of C.R.S., his goal was always to implement Catholic social teaching from “top to bottom” in the organization of over 5,000 people – many of whom were not Catholic.

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Speaking of his diplomatic service as U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican, he talked about the “new approach” of Pope Francis to the papacy and his hope that the United States and the Holy See can work together on many “issues that affect human dignity, the poor, and people who are marginalized”. “There are many things that we can come together on – particularly peace.”

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After his lecture, we gave him a Providence College tie as a token of our appreciation.  Of course, I joked that he should wear this “Dominican tie” when he goes to his Jesuit alma mater, Boston College.

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The Colloquium ended with a light reception during which His Excellency was able to mingle with the students as well as the CEA Rome Team, who worked so hard on the logistics of the event. Mr. Hackett ask the students about our program and their time in Rome, and even stayed to pose for a few photos.

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Perhaps the best reaction I heard afterward was from a student who said: “I was expecting a much more formal lecture.  But his talk was very personal and down to earth and I felt like he was speaking right to me.  He spoke from the heart”.

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  Go Friars!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This week the Providence College Center for Theology and Religious Studies held its Spring Academic Colloquium. We were pleased to welcome His Excellency Mr. Kenneth Hackett , who graciously accepted our invitation to visit and address our student body. Mr. Hackett is the current United States Ambassador to the Holy See. He was nominated to the post by President […]MORE

Putting the “Study” Into Study Abroad

Posted by: on October 9, 2013   |Comments (0)|Colloquium

This past week, the PC/CEA Rome Program offered its second Academic Colloquium.  Besides taking classes, going on site visits, and participating in cultural experiences in Italy, our students also attend Academic Colloquia each month.

These public lectures bring together all of the CEA students, who number close to 70 this semester.  20131009-162617.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

According to CEA Assistant Academic Dean, Marcello Di Paola, “the Colloquium is an opportunity for students, faculty, and guests to engage in high-quality academic exchange, confronting one another in the framework of constructive dialogue.”

This month’s Colloquium was sponsored by Providence College.  I invited Fr. Alejandro Crosthwaite, O.P., from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas, (Angelicum) to be our guest lecturer. In this way we could introduce the other CEA students to the Dominican mission of P.C. and give them a taste of the theology of Thomas Aquinas.  Fr. Alejandro is Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences and an associate professor of Catholic Social Teaching, Social and Political Ethics, and Media Studies. He also serves as Public Relations officer of the Angelicum. 20131009-162538.jpg

 

 

 

 

The lecture was entitled: “The Question of Good and Evil in Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy“.  His presentation used philosophy, theology, and film studies to explore the problem of good and evil.  He began by asking the students if we are born basically good or basically bad.  Then he launched into a survey of how major philosophers like Rousseau, Hobbes, and others have understood human nature.  (Lots of DWC references here!)  Then he analyzed the recent “Batman films” by Christopher Nolan.  Using images and quotes from the films, he pieced together Nolan’s views about good, evil, and the human condition.

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 After discussing the philosophical views of human nature as well as the Batman films, Fr. Alejandro ended with the Catholic view.  He offered a summary of Aquinas’ view of human nature and a beautiful description of our salvation in Christ.

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The question and answer period was a robust conversation since not everyone was convinced by the account of “good and evil” given by Aquinas.  Then the real fun began!  Fr. Alejandro was more than adept at answering objections and giving further explanations with real life references and down-to-earth examples.  We ended by talking about the media stir concerning Pope Francis’ references to human conscience in his recent interview in the Italian newspaper, La Repubblica.

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All in all, the Colloquium helped to “keep the study in study abroad” – which has been one of our mottos here this Fall semester.  Keeping the kind of academic integrity that Providence College expects and requires is a constant focus of our programming.  And this month’s Colloquium went a long way to help promote the tradition, passion, and promise of P.C.

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This past week, the PC/CEA Rome Program offered its second Academic Colloquium.  Besides taking classes, going on site visits, and participating in cultural experiences in Italy, our students also attend Academic Colloquia each month. These public lectures bring together all of the CEA students, who number close to 70 this semester.          […]MORE