UCIIR-AP – Recent Activities

ifyc-monash-065UNESCO Chair in Interreligious and Intercultural Relations – Asia Pacific (UCIIR-AP) activities in recent years have centred on conducting and reporting research in the area of religious diversity, religious resurgence, religious responses to climate change, interreligious youth networks and countering radicalisation in the Asia-Pacific region. Our research findings have informed local, State and Commonwealth government policy in Australia and other governmental and NGO bodies working for interreligious understanding and harmony in the region and globally.

The UCIIR-AP (Bouma and Halafoff) along with Associate Professor Mary Lou Rasmussen of the Faculty of Education have just a won with a team of Colleagues from Warwick University a Monash-Warwick collaboration grant to develop a consortium to study religious literacy and its correlates in Australia. This is a key educational initiative in the area of interreligious and intercultural relations and offers the opportunity not only for a deeper academic understanding of religious literacy but also the possibility of information for evidence based policy in this area.

We have also focussed on establishing academic networks and building bridges between religious communities in Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia and India. Links are also being forged with other UNESCO chairs, regionally and globally, in order to coordinate activities and thereby strengthen their impact.

The UNESCO Chair in Interreligious and Intercultural Relations – Asia Pacific has significant policy and consultancy positions – Member of the Multi-faith Advisory Group to the Office of the Premier in Cabinet, the State of Victoria; Member of the Victoria Police Multifaith Council; Member of the Australian Partnership of Religious Organisations. People associated with the UCIIR-AP have been deeply involved in discussions about education about religion and worldviews in Australian Schools.

The UNESCO Chair is the ‘Australian Node’ of the Major Collaborative Research Initiative funded by the Canadian Social Science and Humanities Research Council to study Religious Diversity and Its Limits: Moving Beyond Tolerance and Accommodation. This project compares the management of religious diversity in Canada, Australia, The United Kingdom, The United States and France. Several people associated with UCIIR-AP are involved in this project.

At Monash University the UCIIR-AP has formed an Interreligious Relations and Studies @ Monash Arts consortium with The Centre for Studies in Religion and Theology, The Centre for Jewish Civilisation, The Centre for Islam in the Modern World and The Monash Asia Institute collaborating on a new Masters in Interreligious Studies and a number of jointly sponsored events.