2009 DAN CONFERENCE KEYNOTE SPEAKERS

Dr Peter Vardy is Vice-Principal of Heythrop College, the specialist Philosophy and Theology College of the University of London, and a leading international expert on Religious and Values Education in schools. Peter works with the Coexist foundation to improve understanding between Christianity, Islam and Judaism. He is a former member of the academic board of Leo Baeck College, the College for trainee rabbis in the Reformed Jewish tradition. Peter is the consulting editor of Dialogue Australasia journal and the author of ten books tranlsated into nine languages. Read more…

Andrew Wright is Professor of Religious and Theological Education at King’s College, University of London. He has taught extensively in schools and higher education, and has a particular interest in the professional development of religious education teachers. Andy has presented his philosophy of Critical Religious Education in many books and papers, most recently Critical Religious Education, Multiculturalism and the Pursuit of Truth (University of Wales Press). He was the inaugural chair of the Association of University Lecturers in Religion and Education, and a member of the writing group that produced the English and Welsh National Framework for Religious Education. Read more…

Professor Abdullah Saeed is the Sultan of Oman Professor of Arab and Islamic Studies at the University of Melbourne. He is also the Director of the National Centre of Excellence for Islamic Studies and the Director of the Asia Institute at the University of Melbourne.

Professor Saeed is an active researcher, focusing on one of the most important issues in Islamic thought: the negotiation of text and context, ijtihad and interpretation. He is a strong advocate of reform of Islamic thought and is frequently asked to present at events both nationally and internationally. He also participates in training courses on Islamic issues to community leaders and government agencies in Australia and abroad. Of particular interest, given the current climate, is the promotion of inter-religious initiatives. He regularly engages with the Muslim, Christian and Jewish communities at national and international symposia to enhance community understandings of Islam, Islamic thought and Muslim societies. He has authored and edited numerous works, reaching the broader scholarly and general community and his most recent publication is The Qur’an: An Introdution, Routledge, 2008. In addition to his strong research focus, Professor Saeed continues to teach Islamic studies at undergraduate and postgraduate levels and supervise postgraduate students. Read more…

Paul Forgasz is currently the coordinator and lecturer for the three Jewish history “foundation” courses – ancient, medieval and modern – in the Centre for Jewish Civilisation at Monash University. He is also closely involved with the university’s Centre for Religion and Theology, where he lectures in the comparative religion program. At the same time, Paul has a connection with the Faculty of Education where he lectures in Jewish Education and also teaches in a Masters program in school leadership.

Beyond Monash University, Paul has had an extensive career in Jewish education. He was Headmaster of the secondary division of Mount Scopus College for over a decade. He also played a leading role in the initial development of the curriculum for VCE Texts and Traditions, as well as Religion and Society. Paul is currently a member of the exam setting panel for both these subjects. He has contributed to two VCE Religion and Society textbooks and a number of educational journals.

In the wider community, Paul is actively involved with Jewish community adult education in his role as faculty head of the Florence Melton Adult Mini-School in Melbourne. For the past three decades, Paul has maintained a strong interest in and active engagement with Jewish-Christian dialogue. Read more…

Rod Pattenden is an educational consultant, artist and art historian working in the area of spirituality and the Arts. He has a BA Visual Arts (Arts Practice), M Phil (Art History), M Theol (Hons), and a Dip Ed and has recently completed PHD studies investigating religion and contemporary arts practice in Australia. He is Chair of the Blake Prize for Religious Art, Co-Director of InterPlay Australia and works as Chaplain for the Uniting Church at Macquarie University.

Rod has particular strengths in the areas of the visual arts, performance skills, movement and exploring the processes of creativity. As an artist he has been involved in a wide variety of community projects including management roles and creative facilitation of events. He has written widely on the arts, contributing to key publications on the work of a number of leading Australian artists as well as developing a number of innovative exhibitions and installation projects. He has also been involved as a consultant to business and community organisations in the area of innovation, change and leadership development. Read more…

Dr Nicholas Coleman has been teaching, writing and consulting in the field of Religious Education in Victoria for fifteen years. He is State Reviewer for VCE Religion and Society and Vice-President of the Victorian Association for Religious Education. Nicholas is Head of Religious Education at Wesley College, Melbourne, and the author of seven books on philosophy and religion, including The Worlds of Religion (McGraw-Hill, 1999) and Studies of Religion (Science Press, 2006). Nicholas received his PhD from Cambridge University in 1989 for original research into the spirit of nature and the mind of God.

Shakira Hussein is a writer and researcher, focusing on Islam, Gender and South Asia. She is currently completing her PhD on encounters between Western and Muslim women in the The Faculty of Asian Studies at The Australian National University. Shakira is editor of Shalom, Pax, Salam, an inter-faith online magazine.

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