Reducing Religious Conflict
University of Oxford
In June 2012, the Science and Religious Conflict Project team in the Faculty of Philosophy at Oxford University hosted a two-day international and interdisciplinary conference on the theme of reducing religious conflict. Conflicts between different religious groups and between religious groups, governments and broader society are endemic to modern life and have been a feature of human existence for thousands of years. What can be done to reduce the rate of occurrence and the severity of such conflicts? In this conference leading international experts from different disciplines take up the theme of reducing religious conflict.
The conference was funded by Arts and Humanities Council Standard Grant AH/F019513/1.
Programme: Download PDF version | Download Word version
Venue: Lincoln College, EPA Science Centre, Museum Road, Oxford OX1 3PX [map]
Convenor: Dr Steve Clarke firstname.lastname@example.org
Rachel Gaminiratne email@example.com
- Scott Atran, Anthropology (University of Michigan and National Center for Scientific Research Paris)
Religious and Sacred Imperatives in Human Conflict
- Liz Carmichael (Faculty of Theology, University of Oxford)
Religion in Conflict and Peacemaking, with Particular Reference to South Africa
- Tony Coady (Philosophy, University of Melbourne and Leverhulme Visiting Professor, University of Oxford)
Civility and Deep Disagreement: Philosophical Reflections on Religious Differences and Public Life
- Eran Halperin (Lauder School of Government, Israel)
Can Emotion Regulation Change Political Attitudes in Intractable and Religious Conflict? From the Laboratory to the Field
- Miles Hewstone ( Katarina Schmid and Ananthi Al Ramiah, Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Oxford)
Intergroup Contact as a Means of Reducing Religious Conflict: Evidence from Belfast and Oldham
- Julian Savulescu (Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics, University of Oxford) and Ingmar Persson (University of Gothenburg and Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics, University of Oxford)
Religion and Religious Conflict: A Secular View
- Monica Toft (Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University)
- Paul Troop (Faculty of Law and Centre for Neuroethics, University of Oxford)
How Might Understanding Human Groups Help Address Religious Conflict?
Notes on the conference: The Science and Religious Conflict Project Conference on ‘Reducing Religious Conflict’ was held on Monday May 19th and Tuesday May 20th 2012, at the Lincoln College EPA Science Centre in Oxford. The conference included eight papers, each followed by general discussion, as well as a concluding round table discussion. The conference was fully subscribed and all papers were well attended. Discussions were lively and very constructive.
Conference speakers included leading international figures from a variety of disciplines who each addressed the conference theme of reducing religious conflict. The first presentation on day one was by Eran Halperin, a political psychologist from the Lauder school of Government in Israel. He gave a presentation on the use of emotional regulation techniques to change political attitudes about apparently intractable conflicts. The next presentation was by the anthropologist Scott Atran from the University of Michigan, John Jay College in New York and the National Center for Scientific Research in Paris. He discussed the role of sacred imperatives in creating and sustaining conflicts and the possibility of ameliorating these conflicts through ‘reframing’. The next talk was by Paul Troop, a lawyer and student of neuroethics from Oxford who spoke about the prospects for better understanding the dynamics of human conflicts, building on recent work on human reasoning due to Hugo Mercier and Dan Sperber. Paul’s talk was followed by one from Julian Savulescu, also from Oxford, who provided a secular philosophical perspective on religious conflict, focusing especially on the question of whether or not religion should be allowed to play a role in deliberation for the purposes of formulating public policy in secular societies. The final presentation of the day was due to Monica Toft, a political scientist from the Kennedy School of Government in Harvard. Monica looked at the interplay of local and global dimensions in the production of religious violence, presenting recent work that she and her collaborators have conducted in the Caucasus region.
On day two the first paper was presented by the experimental psychologist Miles Hewstone from Oxford who spoke about recent work that he and his collaborators – including his co-authors Katarina Schmid and Ananthi Al Ramiah – have been conducting on the efficacy of intergroup contact in reducing conflict. He presented the results of recent studies conducted in Northern Ireland and Oldham in the north of England. The next presentation was from Liz Carmichael, from Oxford, who gave a theologian’s perspective on the practicalities and challenges of peacemaking in South Africa, speaking particularly about her role in helping to ensure peace in South Africa, as the end of the apartheid era was being negotiated. The final paper was due to Tony Coady from the University of Melbourne who provided a philosophical perspective on the challenges of dealing with religious differences in the public arena. To conclude the conference a round table discussion was held. This was led by two of our speakers, Julian Savulescu and Scott Atran, as well as Roger Trigg from the Ian Ramsey Centre for Science and Religion here at Oxford, and involved a lively discussion involving many members of our audience.