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Buddhist-Christian Studies 22 (2002) 207-208

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Society Cosponsors International Conference in Chiang Mai, Thailand

Payap University and Payap University's Institute for the Study of Religion and Culture will be sponsoring a week-long International Academic Conference on "Religion and Globalization in Chiang Mai, Thailand" beginning the last week of July 2003. The conference is being cosponsored by the American Society for Buddhist-Christian Studies. Ruben Habito, vice-president of the Society, is serving as a member of the planning committee and as the liaison between Payap University and the Society. Other members of the planning committee include Donald Swearer, Michael von Brueck, David Chappell, Wolfgang Schmidt, Parichart Suwanbubbha, Saeng Chandrangam, and John Butt. It is hoped that a large contingent of members of the American Society for Buddhist-Christian Studies will participate in the conference both by submitting academic papers and by attending.

Other cosponsoring organizations include the International Network of Engaged Buddhists, the Museum of World Religions based in Taiwan, the International Buddhist-Christian Theological Encounter, the Church of Christ in Thailand (CCT), and a number of other academic and religious organizations from around the world and within Thailand.

The conference will be held on the main Payap University campus beginning with dinner on Sunday evening, July 27. It will end with lunch on Saturday, August 2, 2003. Lodging will be provided at the four-star Amari Rincome Hotel located near the Payap campus. Following the conference, Payap is arranging for several optional post-conference excursions to important religious and historical sites in Thailand and neighboring countries for those wishing to extend their stay in Southeast Asia.

The overall theme of the conference is "Religion and Globalization". Plenary speeches, academic papers, discussions, and workshops will be organized around three broad themes:

  1. Religious Diversity and Interfaith Relations in a Global Age
    This section will include topics concerning religious pluralism, missions, religious conflict and reconciliation, and religious dialogue.
  2. Religion and a Global Society
    This section will focus on specific topics related to issues of social and economic justice, such as the relation between religion and human rights, structural violence, gender, tourism, prostitution, HIV/AIDS, the natural environment, media, technology, arts, and culture. [End Page 207]
  3. Religious Reform and Reformulation for a Global Age
    This section will focus on the reformulation of religious teachings and doctrines as well as on reforms of religious rituals, practices, and institutions in relationship to globalization.

Several reasons make Thailand an appropriate and attractive site for this conference. Thailand has the largest percentage of Buddhists of any country in the world. It also has significant Islamic, Christian, and Hindu minorities. Animistic beliefs and practices underlie the religious faith of most of the Thai people. Over the past century and especially during the past several decades the country and the region have experienced rapid and profound changes as a result of modernization and globalization. For all these reasons Chiang Mai presents an excellent venue for examining how the Theravada Buddhist tradition and other major religious traditions are affecting and being affected by globalization. In addition, the Chiang Mai area has been an important "crossroads" for various religious and cultural movements since the beginning of the Common Era. For over 2,000 years Thailand has been both a receiver and a sender of religious missions. Thus, Chiang Mai provides a superb locale for critically reexamining religious missions and interfaith relations.

The complete cost for the seven-day conference (including all meals, lodging, local transportation, site visits, entertainment, and conference registration) will be $575 (U.S.). International air travel to Chiang Mai will be additional. But based on current fares, travel from the North America to Chiang Mai should be no more than between $800 and $1,200 (U.S.). The exact international travel cost will depend on the carrier and the place of origin. Optional post-conference excursions will involve some additional expense and will vary depending on the destination and length of the excursion.

Details regarding procedure for registration and submitting papers, lodgings, the conference schedule, optional post-conference excursions, and travel...