Monday, October 1, 2012

Gulen Movement and Peacebuilding through Education

(Video Duration: 14 mins. 18 secs.)

Ihsan Yilmaz, Ph.D.
Last week New York City hosted the United Nations General Assembly, the Clinton Global Initiative and the Education Nation conference. These massive events focus on international diplomacy and peace, societal problem-solving and improving classroom instruction. However, just a few blocks away from these grand assemblies, a smaller group met for the first time to tackle all these issues with a single, bold strategy.

Organized by The Fountain and Peace Islands Institute, the conference featured a number of distinguished speakers from the United States and abroad. Among the government representatives were Rochelle Hendricks, the Secretary of Higher Education of New Jersey, Armin Altamirano Luistro, Secretary of the Department of Education in the Philippines, and Tanzania Minister of Education Shukuru Jumanne Kawambwa.

Below, you may find Dr. Ihsan Yilmaz's presentation titled: Peacebuilding through Education: A Perspective on the Hizmet Movement:

Habermas's theory of communicative rationality includes an argument called universal pragmatics, which human beings possess the communicative competence to bring about "mutual" understanding. Habermas, as a believer in dialogue, is an optimist who criticizes the Frankfurt School and postmodernist thought for excessive pessimism. Fethullah G├╝len's thought and praxis represent a similar belief in mutual understanding, dialogue and optimism, in contrast to the pessimism displayed by those who approach religion and social engagement rather through conflict and political activism. Gulen's optimism and belief in dialogue, coupled with his self-confidence based on his status as a modem intellectual and traditional scholar; make it easier for him to be a border transgressor. His pluralistic, inclusivist and peacebuilding ideas have enabled the Hizmet Movement to successfully tum its moral, spiritual, intellectual,financial and human resources into effective social capital and utilized this social capital in establishing educational institutions from primary school to university levels in more than 120 countries. The movement's stance toward pluralism, diversity, tolerance, acceptance, civil society, secularism and democracy shows that the movement generates a bridging social capital, extremely helpful for peacebuilding and establishing sustainable peace through education.

Ihsan Yilmaz is Associate Professor of Political Science at Fatih University, Istanbul, Turkey where he is also the Director of the PhD Program in Political Science and International Relations at the university's Institute of Social Sciences. He received his BA in Political Science and International Relations from the Bosporus University in 1994 and completed his PhD at the Faculty of Law and Social Sciences, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London in 1999. He then worked at the University of Oxford as a Fellow between 1999 and 2001 and taught Turkish government and politics, legal sociology. comparative law and Islamic law at SOAS, University of London between 2001 and 2008.He was the Deputy Chair of the Centre for Ethnic Minority Studies at SOAS (2003-2008) and the Director of the London Centre for Social Studies (2003-2008).

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