Last month, McGill University became an official partner of the Tony Blair Faith Foundation and a committed member to the foundation’s Faith and Globalization Initiative.
Founded in 2008 by former British prime minister Tony Blair, the foundation seeks to cultivate respect and cooperation among the world’s major religions, as well as to work with religious groups on development projects and education programs.
The foundation’s Faith and Globalization Initiative focusses on researching the ways in which the boundaries between religions have impeded efforts to combat poverty and other maladies.
McGill is the fourth university to partner with the foundation, joining Yale, Durham University in England, and the National University of Singapore. Research at McGill under the initiative will focus on faith issues relevant to Canada, such as the faith of indigenous peoples and the connection between faith and human rights.
“I’m really quite energized about the initiative,” said Ellen Aitken, dean of the faculty of religious studies. “I think it’s a very exciting partnership for McGill that has a lot of exciting possibilities for students, for the research community, and for McGill’s connections to universities and others worldwide.”
According to Aitken, the university is planning a variety of events designed to engage the surrounding community, such as public lectures, research conferences, and campus-wide events.
McGill is also developing a new multi-disciplinary program of study, including a new course for undergraduates. The course will be open to approximately 120 students and will explore the links between globalization and the world’s religions.
“There are a lot of students at McGill who really see an understanding of the world’s religions as crucial to being an effective and innovative member in today’s society, in whatever they choose to do in the future,” Aitken said.
The program delves into the principal issues addressed by the Tony Blair Faith Foundation, as well as establishing connections such as internships for undergraduates, with the organization.
“At this point the horizon is wide,” Aitken said. “A lot is possible. The foundation is deeply committed to working with all the ideas we generate from here, and our partnership with other universities, people and communities will just add to the capacity we have here at McGill.”