The Shirley Sugerman Interfaith Forum.


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.

“An island at the center of the world”: Reconsidering Ireland’s Role on the Global Stage

6th Annual Dean Hopper Conference
April 20 and 21, 2018

About the Conference

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.

Hopper Conference Brochure