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”
Professor of Sociology and Director of the Center on Religion and Chinese Society (CRCS) at Purdue University. He received his BA from Hebei Normal University (Shijiazhuang, China) in 1982, MA from Nankai University (Tianjin, China) in 1987, and Ph.D. from The Catholic University of America (Washington, DC) in 1997. He has authored and co-edited several books, including Religion in China: Survival and Revival under Communist Rule (Oxford University Press 2011), Social Scientific Studies of Religion in China: Methodology, Theories, and Findings (with Graeme Lang, Brill 2011), Confucianism and Spiritual Traditions in Modern China and Beyond (with Joseph Tamney, Brill 2011), State, Market, and Religions in Chinese Societies (with Joseph Tamney, Brill 2005), Asian American Religions: The Making and Remaking of Borders and Boundaries (with Tony Carnes, New York University Press 2004), Chinese Christians in America: Conversion, Assimilation, and Adhesive Identities (Penn State University Press 1999).
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.
Jiexia Zhai Autry | “Religion and Health”
Global Fellow and China Program Officer at the Institute for Global Engagement (IGE); Affiliate Research Professor at George Mason University. Prior to joining IGE, Dr. Autry worked as an assistant professor in the Department of Sociology and Gerontology and Asian/Asian American Studies at Miami University and the Institute for Studies of Religion at Baylor University. She received her M.A. and Ph.D. (in Sociology) from University of Texas-Austin and a B.A. from Peking University. She has conducted cutting edge research and taught courses on religion in China and Taiwan, on religion and social demography, religion and health, on Asian immigrants in the U.S., and on Globalization and Chinese Diaspora. Dr. Autry is also an Affiliate Research Professor at George Mason University.
Diane Obenchain | “Confucianism and Democratization”
Professor of Religion at Calvin College, co-editor of God and Globalization. Professor Obenchain graduated from Drew University with a BA in Religion. She received two Masters degrees from Stanford University, one in Philosophy of Education and a second in East Asian Studies. She completed her Ph.D. in Comparative History of Religion at Harvard in 1984. ?She has taught at Kenyon College from 1980-1988. In service to the college, she served as Resident Director of a student exchange program and taught at Waseda University in Japan (1987-1988). Fall semester 1988 at Peking University, Professor Obenchain was the first western scholar to teach the academic study of religion in China, post 1949. From 1990-1993, as visiting professor at National University of Singapore, she taught East Asian philosophical traditions. From 1994-2002, Professor Obenchain taught full-time in China at Peking University, Fudan University and Zhejiang University, helping to establish departments of Religious studies. She has been teaching in the Religion Department at Calvin since January 2005.
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.
Liu Peng | “Religion and Rule of Law”
Senior Fellow of the Institute of American Studies, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences; Founder and Director of the Pu Shi Institute for Social Sciences; Visiting Research Fellow of the Center for People's Congress and Foreign Legislature Study, Peking University Law School; Visiting Research Fellow of the Religion and Law Centre, Emory Law School. In 1999 he founded Pacific Solutions Social Science Research and its companion website, which promotes academic discussion on religion and politics and religion and the rule of law. Liu has authored State, Religion and Law (2006) and Contemporary American Religions (2001), both in Chinese. He graduated from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences with its highest degree in World Religion Research.