Discussion on “Rethinking Dialogue in the Age of New Challenges and Opportunities”

Open to Everyone
Free to Attend


Prof Paul Weller

Universities of Coventry and Derby, and Regent’s Park College, University of Oxford

Over the past two decades, and including very profoundly in recent months, the world has changed in many significant and ways bringing multiple new personal, political, civilizational and religious challenges. This began with paradigmatic shock of 9/11 and the challenges ensuing from that, both of terror conducted in the name of religion, as well as of internal state responses and external military interventions; it encompassed the new rise of populisms and nationalisms and the rebirth of old ethnic hatreds and religious conspiracy theories; and with the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic, many previously “taken-for-granted” things have been put into question, while the multiple level impact of the last several months can still not be fully known or even projected, but are likely to be substantial and longstanding. In the context of these changes, the need for dialogue in the personal, the political, the civilizational and the religious spheres is arguably greater than ever. But what might be the potential roles for, and limitations of, different kinds of dialogue and dialogue in different spheres be in this age of new challenges and opportunities? Is it possible that the new contexts of challenge might also bring new opportunities? If so, what dialogical growing points might there be? How fragile are they? And how might they be nurtured? And when and how might dialogue need to be complemented by other modes of engagement and action? This presentation by Paul Weller will open up some relevant questions and issues for engagement with the online audience that will help set the agenda for a Dialogue Society workshop under the same title of “Rethinking Dialogue in an Age of New Challenges and Opportunities“, planned to take place on 29th November 2020.