Buies Creek -- Campbell University’s Divinity School played host to a delegation of Saudi Arabian scholars on Monday, Jan. 27. The 10 scholars, most of whom are professors and professional educators, are participants in the International Visitor Leadership Program, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State.
The delegation was particularly interested in learning about education policies in public and religion-based institutions in the United States. While in North Carolina, the group visited several universities, including Shaw University, Campbell University and Duke University, meeting with faculty to discuss religious curriculum and policies.
Dr. George Braswell, head of the Divinity School’s World Religions and Global Cultures Center, helped facilitate the discussion between the delegation, assisted by interpreters, Campbell Provost Mark L. Hammond and select members of the Divinity School faculty and students. Braswell said the opportunity was a wonderful chance to learn from one another, intellectually and culturally.
“They wanted to have a better understanding of how we do education and teach religion to our students. And we have a wonderful opportunity to learn more about education from an Islamic perspective,” said Braswell. “This is a chance to ask questions and learn from each other.”
Launched in 1940, the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) organizes short-term visits for current and emerging foreign leaders in a variety of fields. The trips, which last between two to four weeks, offer these leaders an opportunity to experience the United States first hand and cultivate lasting relationships with their American counterparts. Participants meet with professional counterparts, visit U.S. public and private sector organizations related to the project theme, and participate in cultural and social activities. Each year, nearly 5,000 exchange participants come to the U.S through the program.
Provost Hammond celebrated the visit and recognized its significance for building global academic connections.
“It was a special privilege meeting the U.S. Department of State-sponsored delegation from Saudi Arabia,” said Hammond. “Because the International Visitor Leadership Program delegates are faculty scholars and academic administrators, they were keenly interested in how Campbell teaches Christianity and other world religions in our various academic programs and courses. The experience was mutually beneficial.”
The Divinity School’s World Religions and Global Cultures Center was established in 2007. The purpose of the center is to foster greater awareness and understanding of the diverse cultural and religious groups represented in today's world in order to create greater opportunities for Christian relationships and relational ministries. The center offers a course in world religions and cultures for divinity students, as well as workshops and speaking opportunities for students, ministers and religious leaders.