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Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life

Religion, State and Education: Turkish and American Perspectives

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Erik Owens
Boston College

Date: Wednesday, April 17, 2013
Time: 12:00-1:15pm
Location: Boston College, Boisi Center

RSVP Required

Abstract: Turkey and the United States provide fascinating points of comparison with regard to the role of religion in public life, and particularly the role of religion in each nation’s educational landscape. Turkey’s government was strongly­—even stridently—secular for eighty years, but in the last decade Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has led a series of major reforms to make the state and its schools more accommodating to the religious beliefs and practices of its citizens. In this talk, Owens will draw upon research and fieldwork from a recent trip to Turkey to examine why Turkish educational reforms are so controversial, and what they can tell us about our own national debate about religion, education and the state.

headshot of Erik Owens

Erik Owens is associate director of the Boisi Center and adjunct assistant professor of theology and international studies at Boston College. His research explores a variety of intersections between religion and public life, with particular attention to the challenge of fostering the common good of a religiously diverse society. He is a contributor to and co-editor of three books: Gambling: Mapping the American Moral Landscape (2009), Religion and the Death Penalty: A Call for Reckoning (2004) and The Sacred and the Sovereign: Religion and International Politics (2003), the last of which was called a "must read" by Foreign Affairs in 2009. Co-chair of the American Academy of Religion's Religion and Politics section, he also sits on the AAR's Committee for the Public Understanding of Religion and the steering committee of the AAR's "Religion and Public Schools: International Perspectives" group. He received his Ph.D. in religious ethics from the University of Chicago, an M.T.S. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from Duke University.

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In The News

image of men holding a red ribbon

On April 9th, 2013, Turkish Parliament agreed to extend the deadline of the ongoing debate about major constitutional reforms that could have important consequences for Turkey's religious and cultural minorities.