Fall 2018 - 31st Annual Peace Studies Conference

Religion, Politics, and Peacemaking

Perspectives from Haigazian University, Lebanon,
and the College of Saint Benedict/Saint John’s University

31st Annual Peace Studies Conference

College of Saint Benedict/Saint John’s University
Monday, October 29, 2018, 2:00 PM to 9:00 PM
Centennial Room (Quad 264), Saint John’s University 

2:00 to 2:15 PM: Conference Opening 

Welcoming from Michael Hemesath, President of Saint John’s University
Opening Remarks by Paul Haidostian, President of Haigazian University

2:15 to 3:45 PM: First Session 

Presentation by Jon Armajani
Foundations for Muslim-Christian Dialogue and Peacemaking:
Ideas about God, Faith, and Sacred Texts 

Presentation by Suha Naimy
The Conflicts That Pave the Way for Peace:
Lebanese Poet and Philosopher Mikhail Naimy's Perspective

3:45 to 4:15 PM: Refreshments

4:15 to 5:45 PM: Second Session 

Presentation by Noreen Herzfeld
The Dangers of Religious Nationalism:
Lessons for the U.S. from Bosnia 

Presentation by Wilbert van Saane
“The People of Aram Will Go into Exile”:
Practical and Theological Dilemmas of Middle Eastern Churches since the Beginning of the Syrian War


7:30 to 9:00 PM: Keynote Session

Presentation by Paul Haidostian
Education for Preventing Religious Extremism and Nurturing Peaceful Relations 

Presentation by Mary Hinton
Cultivating Inclusive and Peaceful Communities: Multi-faith Sources of Inspiration 

Session moderated by Michael Hemesath


Keynote Speakers 

Paul Haidostian is president of Haigazian University, a position he has held since 2002. He earned an M.Div. at the Near East School of Theology in Beirut and a Ph.D. in pastoral theology at Princeton Theological Seminary. The author of numerous articles in Armenian, Arabic, and English, he is the chair of the Central Committee of the Union of the Armenian Evangelical Churches in the Near East and holds leadership positions in numerous educational, ecclesiastical, and ecumenical organizations. 

Mary Dana Hinton is president of the College of Saint Benedict, a position she has held since 2014. She earned her Ph.D. in religion and religious education from Fordham University and her scholarly interests include African American religious history, religious education, and leadership, as well as strategic planning and diversity in the academy. She is the author of the book The Commercial Church: Black Churches and the New Religious Marketplace in America (Lexington Books, 2011). 

Keynote Session Moderator 

Michael Hemesath is president of Saint John's University, a position he has held since 2012. A 1981 SJU graduate, he is the first layperson appointed to a full presidential term at SJU. As an undergraduate, he majored in economics and earned his B.A. degree summa cum laude. He then earned M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in economics at Harvard University. From 1989 until 2012 he was on the economics faculty at Carleton College where he served as faculty president for his last three years there.  

Afternoon Speakers

Jon Armajani is professor of theology at CSB/SJU where he teaches course on Islam, Christian theology, and peace studies. He earned an M.Div. from Princeton Theological Seminary and a Ph.D. in religious studies from the University of California, Santa Barbara. Among his many publications are the books Dynamic Islam: Liberal Muslim Perspectives in a Transnational Age (Rowman & Littlefield, 2004) and Modern Islamist Movements: History, Religion, and Politics (Wiley-Blackwell, 2012). 

Noreen Herzfeld holds the Nicholas and Bernice Reuter Professorship in Science and Religion at CSB/SJU. Among the academic degrees she has earned are an M.S. from the Penn State and a Ph.D. in spirituality from Graduate Theology Union, Berkeley. A Fulbright Visiting Scholar at the Institute of Islamic Studies in Sarajevo in 2008, she is the author of three books and many articles on topics ranging from the prospects of AI to reconciliation between Muslims and Christians in Bosnia. 

Suha Naimy teaches English and intercultural studies at Haigazian University. She earned an M.A. degree in communication arts from the University of Balamand in Al Kurah, Lebanon, and did post-graduate studies in philosophy at the American University of Beirut. She has published widely in both English and Arabic about the life and work of prominent Lebanese poet, novelist, and philosopher Mikhail Naimy. 

Wilbert van Saane is campus minister and lecturer in religion at Haigazian University. He also teaches classes at the Near East School of Theology in Beirut. An ordained minister in the Protestant Church in the Netherlands, he earned an M.Th. degree at Utrecht University where he is currently completing the requirements for a Ph.D. in religious studies. Articles of his have been published in several Dutch theological journals, including on the topic of Christian-Muslim relations. 

Afternoon Sessions Moderator

Jeffrey Anderson is associate professor in the CSB/SJU Peace Studies Department, which he currently chairs. He holds a Ph.D. in International Relations from American University in Washington, D.C., and his research specialties include international development, global environmental issues, and science and technology. A 1986 SJU graduate with a major in biology, he is an advisor not only to peace studies majors but also pre-med students. 


Conference sponsored by
Jay Phillips Center for Interfaith Learning at Saint John's University
CSB/SJU Department of Peace Studies
Haigazian University
with funding provided by
Jay and Rose Phillips Family Foundation of Minnesota