Center for Middle Eastern Dialogue to host conference at SUNY New Paltz
NEW PALTZ –On Thursday, April 21, the Center for Middle Eastern Dialogue at SUNY New Paltz will host a conference on “Diversity in the Middle East: Commonalities and Polarities.” The conference, which will run from 1 p.m. to 9 p.m., will take place in the Student Union Building (SUB) on the New Paltz campus. The event is free and open to the public.
According to Dr. Clinton Bennett, Adjunct Professor of Philosophy and chair of the organizing committee, “As pro-democracy movements topple and threaten authoritarian regimes in the Middle East, world interest in the region, already high, has risen to a new level. This timely conference, led by SUNY New Paltz faculty and students, aims to deepen understanding of the region through in-depth analysis of economic, political and religious factors.”
Drawing on knowledge and experience of the region, participants will challenge stereotypes and common perceptions. Particular attention will focus on commonalities that unite “us” and “them” and on polarities that divide people in the region and create distance between “our” aspirations and theirs. Breakout sessions on the role of women, Turkey, economics and politics, religious diversity, and an exhibition of student art and a student-led plenary on youth and the spreading revolution, will help interpret current and recent events. A sampling of Middle Eastern food will also be available to participants, and there will be music as well.
The conference will begin at 1 p.m. in SUB 100 with a welcome from James Schiffer, Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and other members of the Center for Middle Eastern Dialogue. From 1:30 TO 3:00 p.m., concurrent sessions will run on the topics of “Upheaval in the Middle East: A Path to Development?” organized by Professor Mona Ali (Economics) and Professor Lewis Brownstein (Political Science), and “Ideological Plurality in Turkey,” facilitated by Professor Serpil Atamaz-Hazar (History) and Professor Ilgu Ozler (Political Science).
From 3:15 to 4:45 p.m., a second set of concurrent sessions will take place: “Middle Eastern Women: Breaking Stereotypes,” moderated by Professor Jane Toby (Foreign Languages), Orooj Shahid (senior, Biology), and Aruba Iqbal (Senior, Biology and Political Science) and “Middle Eastern Religion: Polarizing or Unifying – a Muslim-Jewish-Christian Conversation,” led by Rabbi Bill Strongin (History), Rev. Professor Clinton Bennett (Philosophy), and Imam Qari Muhammad Asil Khan (Mid-Hudson Islamic Association).
At 5:00 p.m. Professor Jaclynne Kerner will introduce the student art exhibit, and a sampling of Middle Eastern food will be served. The final event will be a plenary session at 7 p.m., “Youth and the Spreading Revolution,” moderated by Haifa Muhabir (Senior, Political Science).
According to Ms. Muhabir, “Revolution in one single individual, in the face of injustice, can change the destiny of a society—and the destiny of humankind. In our plenary session, led in part by students from the Middle East, the lens will focus on the youth of the uprisings that have changed the face of the Middle East and North Africa as we have known it.”
Located in the heart of a dynamic college town, 90 minutes from metropolitan New York City, the State University of New York at New Paltz is a highly selective college of about 8,000 undergraduate and graduate students.
One of the most well-regarded public colleges in the nation, New Paltz delivers an extraordinary number of majors in Business, Liberal Arts, Sciences, Engineering, Fine and Performing Arts and Education.
New Paltz embraces its culture as a community where talented and independent minded people from around the world create close personal links with real scholars and artists who love to teach.