A one-day conference sponsored by The Review of Faith & International Affairs at the Institute for Global Engagement and the Center for Faith and Inquiry at Gordon College.
According to a new global study by the Pew Research Center, the most religiously diverse country in the world is not the United States but rather Singapore, and the most religiously diverse region is not North America but Asia. And despite restrictive laws in many Asian countries, religiosity is growing across the region. This conference examines the implications of religious resurgence for public life in Asia. Distinguished experts on religion and society in Asia will discuss the current status and future possibilities for religious contributions to the common good.
Brian Grim | “Religious Diversity, Freedom, and the Future of Asia’s Economy”
Dr. Fenggang Yang | “Christianity and Democratization”
Fenggang Yang is Professor of Sociology, the founding Director of the Center on Religion and Chinese Society at Purdue University, the founding Editor-in-Chief of the Review of Religion and Chinese Society, and the President-Elect of the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion. His research focuses on Christianity and church-state relations in China and immigrant religions in the United States. He is the author of Religion in China: Survival and Revival under Communist Rule (2012) and Chinese Christians in America: Conversion, Assimilation, and Adhesive Identities (1999), the co-editor of ten books or special issue of scholarly journals, and numerous journal articles. He has given many invited lectures and presentations at major universities in the US, Asia and Europe. He has been interviewed by the National Public Radio, New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, USA Today, Economist, CNN, and the BBC.
Paul Y. Chang | "Christianity and Civil Society in South Korea"
Paul Y. Chang is Assistant Professor of Sociology and serves on the Executive Committee of the Korea Institute at Harvard University. His primary interest is in South Korean social and political change and his research on Korea’s democracy movement has appeared in several sociology and area studies journals. He coedited South Korean Social Movements: From Democracy to Civil Society (Routledge) and is working on a book that looks at the impact of state repression on protest in 1970s Korea. He is also embarking on a new project exploring various manifestations of Korea’s changing family structure including rising rates of divorce, unwed mothers, and elderly suicide.
James Chen | “Religion, Stability, and Security”
Vice President for Overseas Programs, Institute for Global Engagement (IGE); former Research Associate and Academic Resources Coordinator at the Near East South Asia (NESA) Center for Strategic Studies, National Defense University. James first joined IGE in June 2011 as a Program Officer before assuming his current role. Prior to joining IGE, he served as a Research Associate and Academic Resources Coordinator at the Near East South Asia (NESA) Center for Strategic Studies, a regional research center of the National Defense University in Washington, D.C. James provided research support for the center’s engagement of defense and foreign policy officials from the Middle East and South Asia, with a special focus on the political, economic, military, and soft power aspects of Chinese influence in the region.
Todd M. Johnson | "Overview of Empirical Trends in East Asia and Southeast Asia”
Dr. Todd Johnson is the Associate Professor of Global Christianity and the Director of the Center for the Study of Global Christianity (CSGC) at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. Dr. Johnson researches the status of Christianity and world religions in every people, language, country and city. While under his leadership, the Center’s statistics have been frequently quoted in the media (recently ABC, BBC, Associated Press, New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, Economist).
Diane Obenchain | “Confucianism and Democratization”
Diane Obenchain Director of the China Program and Professor of Religion in the School of Intercultural Studies at Fuller Theological Seminary. She came to Fuller in July 2014 from Calvin College, where she was professor of religious studies, specializing in the religious traditions of China and Japan, Southeast Asia, and South Asia. Her area of scholarly expertise is the Ru (Confucian) tradition, now a global tradition. With a doctoral degree in comparative history of religion from Harvard University, her research interests include globalization, Chinese traditions, world Christianity and mission. Obenchain holds master’s degrees from Stanford in philosophy of education, with a specialization in Chinese philosophy, and in East Asian studies, with a specialization in Chinese linguistics. Concurrent with her master’s work, she studied the Chinese language in Taipei, equipping her to teach in Mandarin at Peking University (1988–2002), Zhejiang University (Spring 2004), and Fudan University (Fall 2004). She has also taught for at the National University of Singapore (1990–1993), Waseda University (Tokyo, 1987–1988), and Kenyon College (Ohio, 1980–1989).
Xiaoli Wang | “Religion and Rule of Law”
Xiaoli Wang is the Deputy Director of the Beijing-based Pu Shi Institute for Social Sciences (PS), the only private think tank in China devoted to advancing religious freedom and the rule of law. Prior to joining PS, Ms. Wang worked for Beijing Broadvision Culture & Communications Co., Ltd as Deputy General Manager, where she supervised publication and training projects. Before that, she served as a Liaison and Project Officer at China NPO Network, where she developed relations between NGOs in China and foreign organizations. Ms. Wang has a Master’s degree in Applied Linguistics and a Bachelor’s degree in English Language and Literature from Shandong University, China. She currently resides in Beijing with her husband and daughter.
Robert Weller | "Religion, Civil Society, and Social Capital”
Chair of the Department of Anthropology, Boston University; Research Associate at the Institute on Religion, Culture, and World Affairs; winner of 2013 Guggenheim Fellowship. Dr. Robert Weller’s work concentrates on China and Taiwan in comparative perspective. His actual research topics, however, are eclectic—running from ghosts to politics, rebellions to landscape paintings. Perhaps what unites everything is an interest in finding the limits to authority in all its settings.