Religion has quickly proven itself the defining conflict issue of the Twenty-First Century. Religion and conflict are frequently linked in popular discourse, yet from the beginning, religions have typically held peacemaking as a central value and obligation to their members. This ancient tension between religion as a vehicle of peace and religion as a source of division has taken on global dimensions in recent decades, particularly across a belt of countries roughly crossed by the Tenth Parallel, where Islam and Christianity meet, but in many other parts of the world as well, including Boston. Increasingly, conflict resolution activities must better understand how to engage religion in a manner that enhances its peacemaking capacities while undermining frictions that may arise across religious divides or among its own members.
Religious ethics and approaches to peacemaking deeply influenced conflict resolution and peacemaking methodologies as they developed over the last 50 years into a discipline present in academic departments, NGOs, and government agencies worldwide. Moreover, in the last decade conflict resolution practitioners and scholars have begun to work closely with religious actors to incorporate the discipline’s best practices and to improve the peacemaking capacity of religious institutions. The result has been the development of innovative mixed methodologies and hybrid models enriching both religious peace practice and the conflict resolution field, the full impacts of which we are just beginning to appreciate and analyze.
The 2014 Slomoff Symposium “Bridging Global Religious Divides” brought together academics, practitioners, and local and national government representatives to UMass Boston to review these current leading trends in the field, and to explore where new research and practice in interfaith work is needed. The Department for Conflict Resolution, Human Security, and Global Governance and the Center for Peace, Democracy and Development held the two-day symposium to honor the achievements of Benjamin Slomoff (Conflict Resolution ’97) and celebrate his 100th birthday.
Center for Peace, Democracy, and Development, University of Massachusetts Boston, "The 2014 Slomoff Symposium: Bridging Global Religious Divides Conference Report, April 7- 8, 2014" (2014). Center for Peace, Democracy and Development Publications. 4.