Tony Blair meets with YDS faculty

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair met with Yale Divinity School faculty on Oct. 7 at the dean’s residence to discuss the interfaith work of the Tony Blair Faith Foundation and how that work might intersect with Yale Divinity School interests.  Blair teaches a course at Yale, “Faith and Globalization,” and the Foundation has offices on Sterling Divinity Quadrangle.

BlairBlair opened with remarks, according to Dean Harold Attridge, on the importance of addressing the question of how religious faith interacts with the process of integration of human social and economic systems, usually described as “Globalization.”  Tackling that issue is one goal of his Faith Foundation, which was founded on the premise that mutual understanding between religious traditions may help in a peaceful and constructive process of integration.

Blair invited comments from the faculty about YDS’s work and how it might relate to the work of the Foundation.  Discussion included theoretical topics, such as whether Christians and Muslims worship the same God, and practical issues, such as strategies for dealing with issues of faith and globalization in both academic and ecclesial contexts. Blair also reflected on his time at Yale and what he had learned from teaching the Faith and Globalization seminar.

Yale, in collaboration with the Tony Blair Faith Foundation, launched the Faith and Globalization Initiative in 2008 as a three-year effort to conduct dialogue as a way of considering the engagement of religious faith in globalization issues.  The Faith and Globalization course, taught in the fall term, features a website that explores a variety of topics and issues—in the classroom, in formal lectures and informal conversation, and through research, speeches, and conferences.  Co-teaching the course, which is open to Yale undergraduates as well as graduate and professional students, is MIroslav Volf, director of the Yale Center for Faith and Culture and the Henry B. Wright Professor of Systematic Theology. 

Joining YDS faculty at the Oct. 7 gathering were Carlos Eire from the Department of Religious Studies; Martha Highsmith ’94 M.Div., deputy secretary of the University; and Drew Collins ’08 B.A., ’10 M.A.R. of the Blair Foundation.

Attridge said the University hopes to continue the course in some form, though plans are not firm as yet.