The Parliament Blog

An Interview with Tony Blair on Interfaith Dialogue

From The Huffington Post

In a recent interview with former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, we discussed his attendance at the 2010 Clinton Global Initiative held earlier this year, the work of his Faith Foundation, and the importance of understanding religion in a rapidly globalizing world.

Rahim Kanani: While your Faith Foundation’s primary goal is to promote and foster understanding amongst the world’s major religions, and the Face to Faith initiative you’ve described focuses on secondary school students engaging in interfaith and intercultural understanding, what is the role of colleges and universities in tackling interfaith education? Should such instruction be required learning in such a setting?

Tony Blair: My Foundation believes that young people have a pivotal role to play in building a harmonious modern world. After all, they are tomorrow’s leaders. It is therefore vital for students to have a firm grasp on the relationship between faith and globalization. So as well as a schools program my Foundation also has a universities program – the Faith and Globalization Initiative.

Seven universities around the world are currently part of the network: Yale University in the USA, The National University of Singapore, The University of Western Australia, Technologico de Monterrey University in Mexico, McGill University in Canada, Peking University in China and Durham University in the UK. The Faith and Globalization students who are drawn from a huge range of disciplines including international relations, law, theology, economics and business studies are examining the impact of religious faith on politics, business, society, and development in an increasingly globalized society. The focus here is on making the research findings from the university network accessible, meaningful and relevant to policymakers through publications, conferences and policy papers.

Each university customises the course to suit their local contexts and explores aspects of globalization which are particularly relevant to them, for example the key themes in Religions in the Contemporary World at the National University of Singapore are Religion and Technology, Urban Religiosity and Merchandising Religion which reflects the importance of technology in Singapore’s rapidly expanding economy.

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