A UNESCO Chair in Inter-religious Understanding and Relations has been established at Victoria University of Wellington.
New Zealand’s first UNESCO Chair has been awarded to Professor Paul Morris, Victoria University’s Programme Director for Religious Studies. A key participant in the New Zealand Diversity Action Programme, Professor Morris wrote the National Statement on Religious Diversity.
“Inter-religious understanding and relations is fundamental to our key goal which is to promote peace and justice in New Zealand and the Pacific,” says NZ National Commission for UNESCO chair, Bryan Gould.
“Our warm congratulations to Victoria University and particularly, Professor Morris.”
The "UNESCO Chair In Interreligious And Intercultural Relations – New Zealand" is an educational, research and policy activity that will be based at Victoria University’s Religious Studies department. The launch of the UNESCO Chair took place at the 7th National Interfaith Forum, "Keeping Faith in the Modern World" in Christchurch. Professor Morris will be delivering an address entitled "What’s religion got to do with it? - Sustainable futures and faith".
UNESCO Chairs in Interreligious and Intercultural Relations were established in 1995 to provide in-put drawn from an understanding of religious and cultural diversity to UNESCO programs and polices; and to conduct research in this area and to engage in policy debates in their region.
In his position as UNESCO chair, Professor Morris will engage in and publish research on religious change in New Zealand and the Pacific since 1990 and the relationships between religious communities. He will act to foster links between scholars in the region with related research interests. Engaging with governments on the impact of religious and cultural change and the need to explore new models of social cohesion will also be a key focus. Professor Morris will also develop and maintain a regional database of religious groups and communities including research resources.
Deborah Willis, Pro Vice Chancellor, Humanities and Social Sciences, Victoria University; Rosemary du Plessis, Chair Social Sciences Sub Commission, Paul Morris, UNESCO Chair of Interreligious Understanding and Relations.