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International Interreligious Dialogue Organisations: New Developments among Contemporary Actors - Aims - Activities

Panel Chair: Patrice Brodeur | Tuesday, August 25, 9-11 a.m. | Venue

This panel aims to present and examine various aspects of both international and transnational recent dimensions of interreligious dialogue activities, with a special focus on organizational dynamics. By bringing together different disciplinary, gender, and worldview perspectives, this panel will show case the results of up-to-date empirical research endeavours that study new developments among organizational actors in the most history of interreligious dialogue activities. In doing so, the proposed panel wants to discuss the following questions:

  • What kinds of roles do international interreligious dialogue organizations play today on the global scene? Are they simply INGOs or Transnational Religious Organizations? Is Social Movement Theory useful to make sense of this new development in the glocal dynamics of religions today?
  • Who are its main organizational actors?
  • What are their principle aims and how different are they from one another?
  • How are these aims translated into action, i.e. a variety of types of activities?

Patrice Brodeur

Towards a New Typology of Interreligious Dialogue

Throughout the last two decades, interreligious dialogue has become an increasingly significant aspect of present-day religious dynamics. While the modern practice of organized interreligious dialogue goes back more than 100 years, the latest period from around 1990 to the present has witnessed an unprecedented rise in new or expanded interreligious dialogue organizations and networks. For example, there is the establishment of a ‘Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions’ (1988), the foundation of ‘United Religions Initiative’ (between 1995 and 2000), the latest iteration of the now named “Universal Peace Federation” (2005) or the establishment of the ‘Order of Universal Interfaith’ (2010). At the same time, the notion of ‘interreligious dialogue’ (often synonymous to ‘interfaith dialogue’) stands increasingly at the centre of much more general global discourses that link religion to conflict prevention and resolution (e.g. in the context of the UN Alliance of Civilizations (2005) or KAICIID – King Abdullah International Centre for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue (2012). These few examples confirm that the field of interreligious dialogue activities is characterized by the emergence of new dynamics, which calls for scientific study both within the interdisciplinary field of Religious Studies as well as transdisciplinary wise. This paper will present a new typology to make sense of this new development in glocal interreligious dynamics and will explore to what extent such new religious phenomenon can be explained by a transdisciplinary social movement theory.

Jana Vobecka, Karsten Lehmann

Emerging Stories from the New KAICIID International Interreligious Dialogue Database

The last three decades saw a dynamic growth of interreligious dialogue initiatives around the world. Against this background, our paper aims to present the first results of empirical research carried out within the KAICIID Peace Mapping Project (PMP) that maps the current landscape of international interreligious dialogue activities and organizations worldwide. The presentation will briefly present the main aims of the PMP project as well as the results of its first stage in a quantitative analysis of more than 300 international interreligious dialogue organizations and their activities. Our preliminary analysis shows that a majority of the international interreligious dialogue organizations focus on peacebuilding activities. Furthermore, a distinction can be made most clearly between those that focus on activities linked to the promotion of democracy and human rights and those that do not (i.e. focusing on a broad variety of other issues).

Lucy Moore

Islamic Relief and Informal Interreligious Dialogue: A Transnational Case Study

Discussions of interreligious dialogue can often focus on those organisations and actors that explicitly seek to interact across faiths or religions. However much ‘dialogue’ also takes place in less formal ways and lie within the practical realm of cooperation, collaboration or even service delivery. Islamic Relief, as an international humanitarian agency, frequently works with other faith-based organisations (FBOs). This presentation discusses the varied nature of this kind of ‘interreligious dialogue’; frequently informal, ‘faith’ can alternatively represent an identity marker, or a focus for shared values. These different roles for faith can result in varied forms of interaction, opening up different opportunities for dialogue that may not be available to those with specific interreligious mandates. This presentation will draw on practical examples of cooperation between FBOs – including service delivery, shared advocacy initiatives and collaboration for working with religious leaders – to demonstrate these different roles and the implications this has for dialogue.

Catherine Cornille


Catherine Cornille will respond to the issues raised in the previous papers.


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Open Sessions

Thematic Outline

University Map (pdf, 192 KB)