The Shirley Sugerman Interfaith Forum.
The Shirley Sugerman Interfaith Forum was established in 1991 and endowed by Dr. Shirley Sugerman G ’70, Drew trustee emerita, and other donors. The forum provides a venue for interdisciplinary exchanges between and among scholars, teachers, religious leaders, and members of the larger community interested in exploring issues of interfaith understanding, the diversity of religiously-based ethical perspectives, and the political, social, and cultural conflicts caused by the clash of religious traditions.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar’s recent interview in Time magazine concluded with an optimistic and historically loaded statement: “Geographically, we are at the periphery of Europe, but I don’t see Ireland in that way…The way I see us is as an island at the center of the world.” Varadkar’s quote contains echoes of the historiography of empire, which, particularly in the postcolonial era, has brought about intellectual frameworks of core and periphery, hubs and spokes. Barry McCrea’s Languages of the Night (2015) questions exactly this sort of binary. McCrea’s book offers insight into experiential commonalities amongst a number of European linguistic territories, including Brittany and Provence in France, Catalonia and Basque Country in Spain, as well as others, proving that continental Europe itself is also fractured with regional distinctions that cannot be juxtaposed against its neighboring islands as a homogenous totality.
As Varadkar and McCrea make clear, today’s thinkers in both the political and academic realms are more concerned than ever with Ireland’s continuously evolving relationship to both Europe and the wider world. This concept is further complicated by Ireland’s longstanding historical engagement with its own diaspora, as is exemplified by the statement of then-Minister for Enterprise, Mary Harney in 2000. Speaking to a meeting of the American Bar Association, she noted “geographically, we are closer to Berlin than Boston. Spiritually, we are probably a lot closer to Boston than Berlin.”
Drew University’s 6th Annual Dean Hopper Conference aims to examine these historical, cultural, and political connections, while expanding conversations surrounding Ireland’s role on the international stage in the 20th and 21st centuries.
In August 2012, a neo-Nazi gunman opened fire on the Oak Creek, Wisconsin Sikh temple, killing temple president Satwant Singh Kaleka and five other congregants. Serve 2 Unite founder Pardeep Kaleka, son of the slain temple president, and Arno Michaelis, Serve 2 Unite educator and former white supremacist, spoke frankly about forgiveness, redemption and efforts to reach students nationwide with their message of overcoming hatred.
In partnership with
Drew University hosts the Shirley Superman Interfaith Forum panel discussion, March 23, 2016, in Shakespeare Theatre. Panelists are, moderator Prof. Kate Ott; Joyce Dubensky, CEO, Tanenbaum Center for Interreligious Understanding; Sunita Viswanath, Co-founder, Women for Afghan Women, Sadhana: Coalition of Progressive Hindus; and Sarah Sayeed, Senior Adviser to Community Affairs, Office of the Mayor, City of New York.
The CEO of Tanenbaum, a secular, non-sectarian nonprofit that systematically dismantles religious violence and hatred through Peacemakers in armed conflicts and by tackling religious bullying of students, harassment in workplaces and disparate health treatment for people based on their beliefs. Internationally in demand as a speaker, Ms. Dubensky trains and leads workshops on all Tanenbaum programs. She has presented at the United Nations, the Interfaith Kosovo 2nd Annual Conference, the Inter-Parliamentary Conference on Human Rights and Religious Freedom, among many others. As an attorney, Ms. Dubensky served as a national consultant for the Council of Jewish Federations (now Jewish Federations of North America). She also created the Legal Department at the United Jewish Appeal-Federation of Jewish Philanthropies of New York and served as its first general counsel for over 10 years.
Sarah currently serves as senior adviser to community affairs for the Office of the Mayor, City of New York. Previously, Ms. Sayeed served as Director of Community Partnerships, at the Interfaith Center of New York. She is a board member of Women in Islam, Inc., a social justice and human rights volunteer organization dedicated to the empowerment of women through knowledge and practice of Islam. In this capacity, she helped author the booklet, “Women-Friendly Mosques and Community Centers: Reclaiming Our Heritage, and a survey report Women and the American Mosque. Sayeed earned a degree in Sociology and Near East Studies from Princeton University and an MA and PhD in Communication from the Annenberg School for Communication, University of Pennsylvania. She also holds a certificate in Reconciliation Leadership through the Institute for Global Leadership.
She has worked in women’s and human rights organizations for almost three decades. She is co-founder and active board member of the 14-year old front-line women’s human rights organization, Women for Afghan Women. Ms. Viswanath is also co-founder and board member of Sadhana: Coalition of Progressive Hindus, living and building a Hinduism that prioritizes social justice, and upholding the Hindu principles of ekatva (oneness), ahimsa (non-violence) and sadhana (faith in action). She is a frequent writer for the Huffington Post and has been honored for her work on numerous occasions.
Named by U.S. News & World Report as one of America’s Best Leaders of 2009, Eboo Patel is the founder and president of Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC), a Chicago-based organization building the interfaith movement on college campuses. Author of the book Acts of Faith: The Story of an American Muslim, the Struggle for the Soul of a Generation, which won the Louisville Grawemeyer Award in Religion; Sacred Ground: Pluralism, Prejudice, and the Promise of America and the forthcoming book Interfaith Leadership: A Primer. Patel is also a regular contributor to The Washington Post, USA Today, Huffington Post, NPR and CNN. He served on President Obama’s inaugural Advisory Council of the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships and holds a doctorate in the sociology of religion from Oxford University, where he studied on a Rhodes scholarship.
Patel serves on the Religious Advisory Committee of the Council on Foreign Relations, on the Board of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, on the National Committee of the Aga Khan Foundation USA and on the Department of Homeland Security’s Faith-based Advisory Council. He has spoken at the TED Conference, the Clinton Global Initiative, the Nobel Peace Prize Forum and universities around the world. Patel is a Young Global Leader in the World Economic Forum and an Ashoka Fellow, part of a select group of social entrepreneurs whose ideas are changing the world. He was named by Islamica Magazine as one of 10 young Muslim visionaries shaping Islam in America and was chosen by Harvard’s Kennedy School Review as one of five future policy leaders to watch. Both Patel and IFYC were honored with the Roosevelt Institute’s Freedom of Worship Medal in 2009, and Patel was recently awarded the Guru Nanak Interfaith Prize, an award given to an individual to enhance awareness of the crucial role of religious dialogue in the pursuit of peace.
Nicholas Kristof spoke to a packed house for the Shirley Sugerman Interfaith Forum and the Center on Religion, Culture and Conflict at Drew University on March 19, 2013. The two-time Pulitzer Prize winner and co-author (with his wife Sheryl WuDunn) of Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide, discussed the bestselling book, and the movement that it launched. Kristof spoke passionately about the challenges facing girls and women globally. He shared stories about the incredible ways that women around the world are overcoming the odds, to better their lives, including insights into how religions might play a critical role in this effort. Before the lecture, held in the Concert Hall of the Dorothy Young Center for the Arts, Kristof met with students from all three schools at Drew, and stuck around after to take photos and sign copies of Half the Sky.