Religious humanitarian to discuss diplomacy

DANBURY, CONN. — Stein Villumstad, deputy secretary general of The International Conference of Religions for Peace, will discuss “Religion as a Missing Link to Diplomacy” at 4 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 26, in Room 103 of Warner Hall on the Western Connecticut State University Midtown campus, 181 White St. in Danbury. The talk will be free and the public is invited.

Co-sponsored by the WCSU International Center, the Honors program and the Newman Center, Villumstad also will guest lecture in a class on international institutions taught by Dr. Christopher Kukk, associate professor of political science, and will be available for interviews and photo opportunities.

“He offers a different perspective,” said Kukk. “Religion in modern-day international relations is, more often than not, looked at as a stumbling block toward diplomacy. Villumstad makes the argument that religion holds the key to peace among nations. We are very excited to have him here to offer his insight to our students and the general public.”

Villumstad is affiliated with Religions for Peace, the largest international coalition of representatives from the world’s great religions dedicated to preserving humanity, stopping hunger and ending poverty. The organization’s recent successes include building a new climate of reconciliation in Iraq, mediating dialogue among warring factions in Sierra Leone, organizing an international network of religious women’s organizations and establishing a program to assist the millions of children affected by Africa’s AIDS pandemic.

Villumstad has distinguished himself as a champion of international development, conflict transformation and human rights. As an international diplomat, Villumstad has an extensive history of partnership with religious communities, many of whom he has helped in times of conflict and post-conflict situations. He served as regional representative for Norwegian Church Aid in Eastern Africa and oversaw development in 10 countries and managed five regional sub-offices. Villumstad is focused on transforming the face of religion through church-run emergency relief for more than 100 organizations worldwide, reconstruction aid for impoverished countries and conflict resolution.

Also an author, Villumstad has published the book, “Reconstruction of Africa: Perspectives from Within and Without,” along with several articles in periodicals and newspapers with such titles as “Inter-Faith Action in Times of Conflict” and “Why Terrorism?”

For more information, call the Office of University Relations at (203) 837-8486.
 

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