What led rival youth militia leaders to come together as peacebuilding partners? How do you negotiate peace when religious identities are at stake? What are Muslim experiences of conflict and peace and how do they mirror those of other communities?

These are difficult questions with complex answers, but they highlight how Harvard Divinity School is enabling peacebuilding through the growing Religions and the Practice of Peace Initiative, which is holding its first public colloquium series this academic year.

“We find ourselves at a pivotal moment in history, when violent conflict is taking a tragic and unacceptable toll on individuals, families, and communities around the world, and humanity is facing problems on an unprecedented scale that will require an extraordinary level of human cooperation to surmount,” said HDS Dean David N. Hempton.

“Since religion remains a vital and integral force in the lives of most societies across the globe, it is absolutely crucial that we better understand the powerful roles that religious communities have played and can play, not only in fomenting violence, but also in healing and reconciliation. Here at HDS, given our faculty’s deep expertise in the study of religion, theology, and ministry, we are looking to serve, through the RPP Initiative, as a hub for cross-disciplinary, University-wide engagement, scholarship, and practice in peacebuilding.”

The RPP Initiative has grown from an idea to a robust effort that has hosted more than a dozen programs and convenes a working group of students, scholars, and practitioners from across Harvard and beyond.

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