In the beginning of the 21st century, a special interest in religion has become very prominent. The significance of religion in this century was anticipated by some well-known figures (Andre Malraux, John Paul II). However, the main event contributing to the interest was the September 11 terror attack on the United States in 2001, and later attacks in London, Bali, Spain and other places. Some observers simultaneously saw the declared war against terrorism as a war between Christian and Islamic civilisations.
Following this interest there have been emerging voices, which have advocated the serious treatment of religion as a phenomenon within universities (Etzioni, 2007; Bouma, 2007; Batorowicz, 2007).
The process of globalisation, immigration on a large scale, work in other countries and growing international education (study in other countries or students and academic exchange programs) has contributed to direct contacts between various cultures, including different religions. Even public universities in countries where the rule of separation of state and church is maintained, have been unable to ignore the religious and spiritual needs of students, staff, visitors and the broader community.
This paper notes these new developments in relation to religion from a global perspective. The new attitudes towards religion within universities are also analysed and future options for dealing with these issues are considered.
The final part of the paper focuses on the implications of this interest in religion and practical issues when dealing with religious diversity in universities.
|Keywords:||Religion, Universities, Multiculturalism, Globalisation|
Director, Multicultural Centre, The University of Southern Queensland, Toowoomba, Queensland, Australia
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