Notre Dame launches a new initiative in religion and global affairs

Dr Denis Dragovic, delivers the 2015 Religion and Global Affairs Lecture
at The University of Notre Dame Australia.

29 September 2015

Religion matters in times of conflict and peacebuilding, according a leading academic on international affairs, Dr Denis Dragovic, who delivered the 2015 Religion and Global Affairs Lecture at The University of Notre Dame Australia in Sydney last week.

The lecture by Dr Dragovic, an expert in religion and international affairs from the University of Melbourne, was the focal point for the launch of the Religion and Global Affairs Program (RGAP), an initiative of Notre Dame’s Institute for Ethics and Society.

Dr Dragovic, who holds a PhD in political theology from the University of St Andrews, combined academic analysis with his extensive development experience working with various UN agencies and NGOs in conflict and post conflict environments in the Middle East (including three years in Iraq), Africa and Asia. These elements come together in his latest book Religion and Post-Conflict Statebuilding: Roman Catholic and Sunni Islamic Perspectives (Palgrave, 2015).

The evening was opened by Institute Director Dr Sandra Lynch who welcomed the study of religion and global affairs as part of the Institute’s mandate. Dr Lynch said RGAP aimed to study the impact of religion in the fields of international relations such as regional security, diplomacy, international development and global ethics. The inaugural Program Convenor, Associate Professor Dr John Rees, said Dr Dragovic’s academic and applied expertise made him an ideal candidate to deliver the inaugural RGAP Lecture.

Following the lecture, Dr Rees moderated an invigorating Q&A session featuring Dr Dragovic and Ms Jamie Davies, Head of International Programs at Caritas Australia. Discussion centred on the question of what distinguished religious approaches to conflict and peacebuilding, compared to state or multilateral institutions. Dr Rees also asked whether these distinctive qualities fostered lasting change, what pitfalls faith based entities face and what they could do to better contribute to resolution of protracted crises.

Issues of current importance from an academic and applied perspective were also discussed with Ms Davies. As a senior member of a frontline faith-based NGO with a strong commitment to development education, she added valuable perspectives to these questions based on the work of Caritas in the Asia-Pacific.

The RGAP Lecture will be held annually and address one of the research areas of the Religion and Global Affairs initiative.

Further details: Institute for Ethics and Society (02) 82044240 and IES Religion and Global Affairs Program:

Theresa Kyne: Tel (02) 8204 4141; Mob: 0407 408 177;