Religion, Diplomacy, and International Relations (PORDIR)
The theme of PORDIR 2022-2023 is “Human Security, Fundamental Rights, and Technology,” and is co-chaired by Prof. Wolfgang Danspeckgruber with Prof. Katherine Marshall, Georgetown University, Exec. Director, World Faith Development Dialogue, Vice President Inter-Faith Initiative of the G20 Forum.
The PORDIR 2021-22, 23 theme is “Human Security, Fundamental Rights, and Technology,” and will be co-chaired by Prof. Wolfgang Danspeckgruber with Prof. Katherine Marshall from Georgetown University, Exec. Director, World Faith Development Dialogue, Vice President Inter-Faith Initiative of the G20 Forum.
PORDIR was co-founded in 2006 by Prof. Wolfgang Danspeckgruber and The Rev. Paul Brandeis Raushenbush. This weekly seminar – throughout the entire academic year – draws on nearly two decades’ worth of providing meaningful space for students and scholars as well as spiritual, political, and community leaders to discuss pressing issues of our intense time.
The objective of the PORDIR seminar is to explore the influence of religion, religious beliefs, values, secularism, and spirituality on the theory and practice in international diplomacy and in different systems of global politics and governance - and bring in personal experiences and perspectives. Fellows meet weekly throughout an entire academic year to receive lectures and to discuss; at the end of the year, they author a research paper which – if accepted – will be presented internationally. We encourage our fellows to conduct research and analysis to understand issues related to crises, development, economics, foreign relations, politics, and the future – with respect to perspectives based on religious or spiritual rules, ideas, or values systems. Specific emphasis is placed on intercultural relations, crisis- and conflict management, and the relationship between state and non-state actors. Gender issues and the relationship with advanced technologies are an important unifying theme and will have special focus this year.
Previous PORDIR seminar topics have included: pathways into terrorism; public health and religious law, populist conspiracies; generational interpretations of religious norms, environmental stewardship, and the ethics of drone warfare. Participants typically hear eminent speakers from many distinct religious traditions, career paths, academia, diplomacy, communal, national, or ideological perspectives, from industries, and the military.
The annual project supports a student fellowship of about 16-20 graduate and undergraduate students who meet weekly and conduct intellectually rigorous independent research resulting in an essay of approximately 4,000 words. Each year’s meetings and discussions typically conclude with a colloquium abroad where the independent research projects produced over the year are presented to an international audience. In ‘normal times’, this happens at an international PORDIR colloquium held in a special place internationally – previous colloquiums have been staged in New York, Rome, Jerusalem, Lisbon, and Vienna. In the summer of 2021, the concluding international seminar was a hybrid video-link conference in the hallowed library of the Augustinian Abbey of St. Florian, Austria, celebrating its 950 Anniversary. Conditions permitting, the summer of 2022 will return to the normal seminar cycle with the colloquium held in a city abroad.
Now entering its 16th year, this PORDIR seminar has the objective of fostering an interdisciplinary, intergenerational, and inter-cultural and -religious exchange among students, scholars, and meaningfully contributing to an effective discussion on critical global issues concerning human security and fundamental rights within the G20 Inter-Faith Agenda.