Everything happens for a reason, or so they say. Professor Joseph Prud’homme recently traveled to Indonesia for an international conference held by the Institute for Religion, Politics, and Culture here at Washington College, which he directs. Professor Prud’homme didn’t originally plan on attending the conference, but stepped in last minute when a colleague wasn’t able to make it. After spending a day at Mt. Vernon with his political science, philosophy, and first year seminar students, Prud’homme left from Dulles International Airport to catch his flight to Indonesia. At the conference, he presented a report on the importance of religious liberty across the world and he spoke about the importance of religious freedom. “The Institute for Religion, Politics and Culture studies the historic and ongoing contributions of religion to political and cultural flourishing, in the United States and around the world. The Institute is the very heart of my professional life,” he said.
The conference itself was held on the campus of Ghadja Mada University, which is a public research university located about an hour away from Jakarta, the Indonesian capital, in Yogyakarta – a city renowned for its culture and historical background. The Institute for Religion, Politics, and Culture has conducted this conference for the last 5 years; each year, it has been held in a country with a large Muslim population. “The goal is to study the ways the world’s greatest religions work together to promote peace and respect for human dignity, with special focus on how Muslims and Christians do so daily, around the world, in everyday life,” Prud’homme said. Although the conference was an event that lasted for several days, it wasn’t all work and no play. Professor Prud’homme and his colleagues were able to take some time away from presenting to sightsee all that Indonesia had to offer. “We toured world heritage sites, including some of the largest Hindu and Buddhist temples in the world. In addition, I toured several mosques and several churches,” he said.