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McGill partners with Tony Blair Faith Foundation to expand research on religious issues

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Published: 3 Dec 2009

Becomes one of leading universities in global network to help advance understanding, tolerance

Becomes one of leading universities in global network to help advance understanding, tolerance

McGill University has become the first Canadian university - and the fourth in the world - to partner with the Tony Blair Faith Foundation's Faith and Globalisation Initiative.

The Initiative is a global network of universities committed to exploring the complex interrelationship of faith and globalisation in the modern world. The program includes McGill developing a new, multi-disciplinary course for 120 students, research conferences, public lectures and events and campus activities.

"As globalisation pushes people closer together we need to understand - in policy and practice - how the relations between people of different religious faiths can shape societies for good or ill. The issue of religious faith will be of the same significance to the 21st century as political ideology was to the 20th, and we need to understand its impact. Our next generation of leaders needs access to the insights of renowned thinkers such as those at McGill. I am also delighted that the Faith and Globalisation Initiative has extended into Canada. Canada is known around the world as a nation that welcomes and celebrates diversity, it is a testament to the fact that cultural variety can be a great source of strength," said Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Patron of the Foundation.

"We are extremely pleased to forge this exciting partnership with the Tony Blair Faith Foundation," McGill Principal and Vice-Chancellor Heather Munroe-Blum said. "As the modern world embraces multiculturalism and diversity to greater and greater degrees, we face both major challenges and greater opportunities in the evolution of human relationships. One of my longstanding goals for McGill has been to ensure that this University continues to play a significant role in helping shape our society. With the establishment of this important relationship devoted to world-class research on such vital issues as the way populations interact with one another in matters of religious expression and heritage, I'm confident we will be able make a notable contribution."

McGill joins the TBFF's existing partners Yale University, the National University of Singapore and Durham University in the UK. Advanced discussions are under way with universities in China, India, Australia and Latin America to ensure the network is fully representative of different geographies and cultural tradition.

Ruth Turner, Chief Executive of the Tony Blair Faith Foundation said: "We selected McGill on the basis of its internationalism, global outlook, and commitment to furthering knowledge and policy around some of the most fundamental issues of the 21st Century."

Ellen Aitken, McGill's Dean of Religious Studies, emphasized that "this partnership provides an excellent opportunity to co-ordinate so many of McGill's strengths, including in the academic study of the world's religions, and to extend McGill's international scope through this global university network. It offers opportunities for our students to connect with some of the best minds engaged on issues of pressing need and to develop their own leadership capacity in innovative and far-sighted ways. We look forward to developing research, teaching, and public aspects of this project with sensitivity to the Canadian context."

Notes to Editor

  • TBFF will work with a number of academic departments at McGill, led by the following faculties: Religious Studies and including Islamic Studies, Arts, Education and Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. Particular focus will also be given to the Canadian perspective - from the origin of human rights to indigenous peoples.
  • The Foundation has an office in Toronto and will increase and expand activity in both its Education and Social Action programs throughout Canada. The partnership with McGill will allow the Foundation to develop its programs in Quebec, particularly in the context of the recent curriculum changes in religious education.
  • The lessons learned in the academic world will be taken out into the real world to affect change. We want the research stimulated from the Faith and Globalisation courses to be applied by policy makers, business leaders and civil society.
  • The Tony Blair Faith Foundation aims to promote respect and understanding between the major religions, to make the case for faith as a force for good and to show this in action by encouraging inter-faith initiatives to tackle global poverty and conflict. Go to www.tonyblairfaithfoundation.org to find out more.

About McGill University

McGill University, founded in Montreal, Que., in 1821, is Canada's leading post-secondary institution. It has two campuses, 11 faculties, 10 professional schools, 300 programs of study and more than 34,000 students. McGill attracts students from more than 150 countries around the world. Almost half of McGill students claim a first language other than English - including 6,000 francophones - with more than 6,400 international students making up almost 20 per cent of the student body.

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