The Duck of Minerva

The Duck Quacks at Twilight

James Ron: IR Profs Should Teach Religious Fluency

October 20, 2010

Here is a fabulous interview on Canadian TV with Professor James Ron of Carleton University. Ron’s key argument is that we are not giving our students a sufficient education if they leave our classes fluent in human rights discourse but not in the nuts and bolts of the world’s leading religions.

A real “aha” moment for me as a teacher – sure, I’ve always tried to make sure they know the difference between Sunni and Shi’a or the difference between an Islamic and a Muslim majority state, or the role of the Holy See at the UN, but Ron’s argument goes further: he’s not simply saying students should know facts about religion and politics, but that religious narrative itself is a language students need in order to communicate effectively as future diplomats. At the same time, he humbly and humorously reminds us what a socio-cultural mine-field such teaching can be, whether it’s our students or our own kids.

[cross-posted at Lawyers, Guns and Money]

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Charli Carpenter is a Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. She is the author of 'Innocent Women and Children': Gender, Norms and the Protection of Civilians (Ashgate, 2006), Forgetting Children Born of War: Setting the Human Rights
Agenda in Bosnia and Beyond (Columbia, 2010), and ‘Lost’ Causes: Agenda-Setting in Global Issue Networks and the Shaping of Human Security (Cornell, 2014). Her main research interests include national security ethics, the protection of civilians, the laws of war, global agenda-setting, gender and political violence, humanitarian affairs, the role of information technology in human security, and the gap between intentions and outcomes among advocates of human security.