Len Lecture in Singapore

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Dialogue Institute President, Professor Len Swidler, was a keynote lecturer at The 5 th Annual Distinguished Speaker Series at Rajaratam School of International Studies (RSIS) in Singapore on April 4th, 2019. The conference was on “Countering Exclusivism, Promoting Inclusion for Positive Inter- Religious Relations in Plural Societies” where Len lectured on inclusivity in a global community among other distinguished speakers. Professor Swidler’s talk demonstrated the need to understand what exactly is being said, rather than what we think we are understanding in order to have a constructive dialogue.

Other speakers including Professors Zhou Xinping, Julius Lipner, Patrice Brodeur, and Lily Kong discussed how to begin healing wounds through dialogue and earning involvement from the larger global community in ongoing inclusive work. All lectures stressed the need for more widespread and public dialogue, focusing on a careful discussion of deep issues in order to move forward in a productive manner.

After the conference, Professor Swidler reconnected former Young South East Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI) Student, Netusha Bahadoor, who shared the progress on her action plan since she returned home. Netusha created Imagined Malaysia, an NGO creating public awareness and education about the differing narratives and stories that may be omitted from official  history.  Netusha and several of her peers who attended the conference also participated in dinner and informal dialogue with Professors Swidler and other conference speakers.

During Professor Swidler’s visit he also met with several ambassadors, such as Ambassador Alami, who arranged a meeting between the conference keynote speakers and the Prime Minister of Singapore, Lee Hsien Loong. Their conversation included an animated discussion on dialogue and education in Singapore. Before leaving, Ambassador Alami and Nazath Faheema, General Manager of the Inter Religious Organization (IRO), invited Professor Swidler to meet with the IRO, various students, and religious leaders for a dialogue session.  

The visit to Singapore illuminated the importance of dialogue and religious harmony is to Singapore due to its ethnic and religious diversity. Before Professor Swidler departed Singapore he urged students and leaders to continue asking questions and never stop trying to fully understand what it is others are saying.