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Conference to examine intersection of faith and schools

January 8, 2008 By Kerry Hill

Scholars from the University of Wisconsin–Madison and other institutions will meet early in February to discuss the intersections of religion and education in the United States and around the world.

"Faith in Schools: Religion and Education in Comparative and International Perspectives," the fifth annual conference sponsored by the UW–Madison Department of Educational Policy Studies, will be held Thursday and Friday, Feb. 7 and 8, at the Pyle Center, 702 Langdon St. All sessions are free and open to the public.

"’Faith’ in our conference title is a multifaceted, crosscutting term that frames speakers’ inquiry broadly and promises to engage a wide audience," says Amy Stambach, associate professor of educational policy studies and anthropology, the lead organizer of this year’s conference.

John Bowen, an expert on religion and education, will speak on Republican and Islamic schools in France, in the keynote address at 7 p.m. on Feb. 7. Bowen is the Dunbar-Van Cleve Professor in Arts and Sciences, professor of anthropology and director of the Initiative in Pluralism, Politics and Religion at Washington University in St. Louis. He has written extensively on pluralism and democracy in Southeast Asia (especially Indonesia) and Europe. His most recent book, "Why the French Don’t Like Headscarves" (Princeton, 2006), will serve as the basis of his talk.

The Feb. 8 sessions, which begin at 8:30 a.m. and run throughout the day, cover philosophical, historical, anthropological, comparative political and policy perspectives on faith in schools.

Participating UW–Madison faculty include Dan Pekarsky, Harry Brighouse, Adam Nelson, William J. Reese, Amy Stambach, Stacey Lee, Nancy Kendall, Michael Apple, and Michael Olneck, all of the Department of Educational Policy Studies; Tom Popkewitz and Diana Hess, of the Department of Curriculum and Instruction; and Larry Nesper, of the departments of Anthropology and American Indian Studies. Other faculty participants include Parna Sengupta, Carleton College; Ritty Lukose, University of Pennsylvania; and Zolani Ngwane, Haverford College.

For more details, call the Department of Educational Policy Studies at (608) 262-1760. The Web site also includes documents and presentations from previous conferences.

Co-sponsors of this year’s conference include the UW–Madison International Institute and several of the institutes’ member programs (African Studies Program, Center for European Studies/European Union Center for Excellence, Center for Southeast Asian Studies, Center for Interdisciplinary French Studies and Middle Eastern Studies Program), WISCAPE, the UW–Madison School of Education International Education Committee and Fair Indigo Foundation.