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Centre for Peace and Justice, BRAC University, Green Delta Aims Tower (13th floor) 51-52 Mohakhali C/A Dhaka 1212, Bangladesh

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October 30, 2023 Centre for Peace and Justice

Centre for Peace and Justice (CPJ), BRAC University and World Faiths Development Dialogue (WFDD), at the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs, Georgetown University jointly organized a national level conference titled ‘The Intersections of Faith and Development in Bangladesh’. The conference was held at a hotel in recently.

WFDD and CPJ have run a collaborative project since 2019 with a core focus on Social Cohesion, exploring the dimensions of faith and its implications on four critical development themes: Education, Gender and Social Inclusion, Youth, Media, and Communications, and Climate Challenges.

The opening session featured special guests H.E. Mr. Jan-Rolf Janowski, Honorable Charge De’ Affaires of the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany, Dhaka and Professor Katherine Marshall, Senior Fellow, Georgetown University and Executive Director, World Faiths Development Dialogue.

Professor Dr. Samia Huq, Dean of General Education and Research Fellow, CPJ, BRAC University delivered the welcome remarks.  She mentioned that faith is an integral part of understanding and expanding social cohesion. “Cohesive, deliberative and collective efforts are needed to enhance the role of faith in promoting the development of a nation’’- she added.

Mr. Janowski emphasized the importance of having conversations on faith with the right people, in the right format across the world to bring diverse communities together.

Professor Katherine Marshall highlighted that religion is one of the most important factors that affects all other areas of development. “It is important because it is often ignored or completely invisible in development related discussions and decisions”- she added.

The event consisted of four panel discussions and open discussion sessions with the participants.

The first panel discussion session was titled ‘Faith and Education’. Dr. Sudipta Roy, Senior Researcher, WFDD moderated this session. Panel members included Dr. AQM Shafiul Azam, Director, Planning and Development Wing, Directorate of Secondary and Higher Education Bangladesh and Secretary, Bangladesh Accreditation Council at the Ministry of Education, Matius Ho, Executive Director, Leimena Institute in Jakarta, Indonesia and Professor Mahan Mirza, Executive Director, Ansari Institute for Global Engagement with Religion at the University of Notre Dame, USA.

Their discussion elaborated on the role of education in social cohesion, ethics education in Bangladesh, cross-cultural religious literacy in Indonesia and pluralism in higher education.

The second panel discussion was on ‘Faith, Youth, and Media’. Dr. Ratan Kumar Roy, Assistant Professor, School of General Education, BRAC University was the moderator for this session. The panel members of this session included Badiuzzaman Bay, Assistant Editor, The Daily Star, Zain Mahmood, Executive Director, C-CAB, Syed Tayabul Bashar, Founder, Save and Serve Foundation and Md. Asaduzzaman, Programme and Public Relation Officer, Shanti Mitra Somaj Kolyan Songstha, Mymensingh.

They presented some insightful observations on faith trends in social media, reporting faith related issues in newspaper and youth engagement in promoting peace during this session.

The third panel discussion was titled ‘Faith, Environment, and Climate Change”. The session started with the screening of the documentary ‘No Ark’. Panel members for this session included Pavel Partha, Director, Bangladesh Resource Centre for Indigenous Knowledge (BARCIK), Bratto Amin, CEO, Bangala Films, Dr. Samina Luthfa, Associate Professor, Department of Sociology, University of Dhaka, and Soumya Sarker, Assistant Professor, Jagannath University.

Their vibrant discussion explored topics such as, indigenous knowledge and practices in addressing climate change, storytelling and visual narratives for driving environmental action and religious teachings as a motivation for climate consciousness.

The fourth and last discussion was titled ‘Faith, Gender and Social Inclusion’. The session was moderated by Zahra Mayeesha, Research Assistant, CPJ.

The panel members for this session were Professor Samia Huq, Dean of General Education and Research Fellow, CPJ, BRAC University, Hesha Lucknie Perera, Manager, End Child Poverty Initiative, Arigatou International at Sarvodaya, Sri Lanka, Professor Katherine Marshall, Executive Director, World Faiths Development Dialogue and Dr. Azza Karam, Professor, Religion and Development at the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam, Netherlands.

In this session, the panel members shed light on muslim women and their self-expression in Bangladesh, early education and gender equality and correlation of faith, gender and equality.

Manzoor Hasan OBE, Executive Director, CPJ, BRAC University delivered the concluding remarks.