The issue of religion in international development – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

The issue of religion in international development

President Gearan Speaks at UC Santa Barbara

President Mark D. Gearan participated in a workshop at the University of California, Santa Barbara with scholars and Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) leaders examining the topic of religion and international NGOs.

Hosted by the Orfalea Center for Global & International Studies at UCSB, one of the country’s oldest global studies programs, and with funding from the Henry Luce Foundation, the closed workshop focused on how issues of religion in international affairs relate to international NGOs. The participants in the workshop were divided between scholars and leaders in the international NGO community. The point of the workshop was to identify some of the relevant religion-specific factors surrounding issues of cultural conflict and sensitivity that confront all humanitarian organizations working abroad.

Gearan was invited to share his perspective as former Director of the Peace Corps and his work to start the Peace Corps in Jordan as well as his service as Deputy Chief of Staff at the White House.

“I find the topic extremely important and one that should be of interest for anyone intending to work in international development,” said Gearan.

“Americans are used to the separation of church and state. When international NGOs work in countries where the role of religion is part of the cultural and political life, aid workers must be keenly sensitive to the challenges.”

The Henry Luce Foundation was established in 1936 by Henry R. Luce, the co-founder and editor-in-chief of Time Inc. The Foundation seeks to bring important ideas to the center of American life, strengthen international understanding, and foster innovation and leadership in academic, policy, religious, and art communities. For more information about the Luce Foundation click here; for more information about the Orfalea Center and its workshops, click here.