The Center for International and Regional Studies (CIRS) at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service (SFS-Q) continued their highly popular monthly dialogue series on Tuesday with Michael Driessen.
Driessen, a Postdoctoral Fellow at CIRS, entitled the discussion “Religion-State Institutions and Patterns of Democracy: Religious Revivals and Secular Politics in Catholic and Muslim Societies.”
Driessen discussed religion in governments, placing secular and religious friendly countries within an authoritarian and democratic framework. Driessen broadened his talk to incorporate a wide variety of countries as examples, specifically highlighting Italy for a more in-depth discussion. Captivating the intimate audience’s attention, he expertly guided them through the intricacies of the subject. The discussion culminated in a lengthy question and answer session.
Amina Kandar, an SFS-Q student studying International Politics, commented, “I thought the talk was very interesting, it was great to learn about countries in Europe – Italy and France specifically – and politics, which is important for SFS-Q students. Often we discuss our region, here in the Middle East, so I think it’s fascinating to branch out and look at the other factors that are intertwined with politics.”
Driessen is currently finishing a book manuscript on “Religiously Friendly Democratization Processes” in the Mediterranean region that analyzes how religion-state arrangements help frame questions of religious and political identity in Muslim and Catholic societies.
Anna, a visitor from Oman, stated “I thought it was very interesting, Driessen spoke about multi-governments and how they deal with identity. I believe that it is a conflict though, because I strongly feel that what people see as religion is actually just tradition and traditional values.”
Impressed by the subject and content, she further added, “He is doing great things for democracy in the Middle East, both with this talk and his book.”
This sentiment was reiterated by another audience member, Asim, from Pakistan, “I thought he provided a very true account, he gave clear evidence that democracies can exist in the Middle East. I really enjoyed it.”
CIRS’s Monthly Dialogue Series are designed to present interested community members with a forum for civil, thoughtful dialogue with scholars from Georgetown University and elsewhere on their latest academic endeavors and their research agendas.
Georgetown’s Center for International and Regional Studies in Qatar is a premier research institute devoted to the academic study of regional and international issues. CIRS sponsors a number of forums throughout the year facilitating dialogue and an exchange of ideas on a broad range of issues with the aim to engage and enrich the university students and community.