Second International Conference on Islam in the Contemporary World:
The Fethullah Gülen Movement in Thought and Practice
November 3-5, 2006, University of Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma, U.S.A.
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Conference Participants
  • Ambassador Akbar Ahmed, Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies, American University in Washington DC, is "the world's leading authority on contemporary Islam" according to the BBC. Former High Commissioner of Pakistan to Great Britain he has advised Prince Charles and met with President George W. Bush on Islam. His numerous books, films and documentaries have won awards. His books have been translated into many languages including Chinese and Indonesian. Dr. Ahmed is regularly interviewed on CNN, CBC, the BBC, ARY TV and has appeared several times on the Oprah Winfrey Show and Night Line. He has presented and narrated "The Glories of Islamic Art", the three-part television series for Channel 5, UK, to be broadcast this fall. In February 2005 the National Cathedral held a special Evensong Service to honor Dr. Ahmed. He is also a Senior Fellow at The Case Foundation in Washington, D.C. He spoke at the Chairman's Distinguished Speakers Lecture Series at the Pentagon and gave the inaugural lectures for the first Chair in Jewish-Muslim Studies at the University of Illinois-Chicago. He lectured at a World Affairs Council event along with Dick Cheney, Dr. Henry Kissinger and Bernard Lewis ("Also," wrote the Program Director, "I just completed the evaluation and you were the speaker the respondents liked best. Now that is an honor.").He was the first Muslim to lecture at the Holocaust Museum in Washington DC. Ahmed is Principal Investigator for "Islam in the Age of Globalization", a project supported by The Brookings Institution, American University and The Pew Research Center, and Visiting Fellow at Brookings in addition to his appointment at American University. He is now working on the book of the travels and television series. He has been invited to continue as Fellow at Brookings for the coming year. He was Finalist with Dr. Judea Pearl in the "Most Inspiring Person of the Year 2005" in a poll conducted by BeliefNet and Finalist in the first ever Purpose Prize Award

  • Tom W. Boyd is the David Ross Boyd Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at the University of Oklahoma. After teaching philosophy of religion and ethics there for 28 years, he retired from fulltime teaching in 1997. He also retired from the ordained ministry in the Presbyterian Church USA in the summer of 1998. He teaches two courses per semester. Tom holds four earned degrees, including a Ph.D. in Religion from Vanderbilt University in 1973. His academic specialization is in philosophical theology, theories of religion, comparative religion, and ethics. His current concentration is on the relation among world religions and the relation between religion and culture. He is particularly devoted to issues related to interfaith dialogue. He seeks through his studies and teaching to understand and appreciate religion in its contemporary setting and in light of an emerging planetary culture. Tom and his wife Barbara work together in conducting seminars, workshops, and retreats.

  • Barbara S. Boyd is the Director of Outreach for the Religious Studies Program at the University of Oklahoma. She is also faculty in that program, teaching the areas of Christian and Biblical Studies. She earned her graduate degrees from the consortium of schools linked to the University of Chicago Divinity School, specifically being granted her doctoral degree from McCormick Theological Seminary in 1996. She is an ordained Presbyterian (PCUSA) minister, having previously served two churches. She is married to Professor Tom W. Boyd.

  • Loye Ashton is Assistant Professor of Religious Studies, Chair, and ICOHM Dept. Director of the Religious Studies Program at Tougaloo College. He was previously a Visiting Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Millsaps College (Jackson, MS) where he taught comparative theology and world religions. He serves as an ordained Deacon in the United Methodist Church, assisting with music and education at Crossgates United Methodist Church of Brandon, Mississippi, with his wife the Rev. Ruth S. Ashton, who serves as the Associate Pastor. He did his undergraduate work at Montana State University and his Master's and Ph.D. work at Boston University. An avid amateur drummer for 28 years, he is passionate about all forms of percussion across the globe, having so far visited Europe, Latin America, and the Middle East in his quest to learn more about sacred world music. He is also presently working on a book about the history of Christian theology in the 20th century, Faithful Uncertainty, (forthcoming next year from Westminster John Knox).

  • Jill Carroll is the Associate Director of the Boniuk Center for the Study and Advancement of Religious Tolerance at Rice University. She is also Adjunct Associate Professor in the Department of Religious Studies at Rice. In addition to teaching at Rice, she has taught widely in the Houston area, including at all campuses of the University of Houston system, The Women's Institute of Houston, The Jung Center of Houston, and in the Texas State prison system. She is the author of three books and has been a columnist for The Chronicle of Higher Education. Through her own company and in collaboration with other organizational consultants, she has done religious diversity training for corporations, groups and individuals.

  • Darian C. De Bolt teaches moral philosophy and ancient Greek at the University of Central Oklahoma. He received a B.A. magna cum laude (1968) in philosophy and Greek from the University of Oklahoma. From that same institution, he also received an M.A. (1984) and Ph.D. (1993) in philosophy. He pursued a Master of Theological Studies degree at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago and is also a graduate of the Federal Bureau of Investigation National Academy at the University of Virginia. He specializes in ethics, social and political philosophy, and epistemology. However, he has a wide range of interests including comparative religion and Greek literature. He also pursued a career in law enforcement at the Norman (OK) Police Department and retired from police work in 1993 at the rank of Captain. He was subsequently elected to the city council of the City of Norman, Oklahoma.

  • Paul Weller is Professor of Inter-Religious Relations at the University of Derby and Visiting Fellow at the Oxford Centre for Christianity and Culture at Regent's Park College, University of Oxford. He is editor of Religions in the UK: Directory 2001-3 (Multi-Faith Centre at the University of Derby, Derby, 2001). He directed a UK Government Home Office research project (1999-2001) leading to P. Weller, A. Feldman and K. Purdam, et. al., Religious Discrimination in England and Wales, Home Office Research Study 220 (Research Development Statistics Directorate, The Home Office, London, 2001). He is author of Time for a Change: Reconfiguring Religion, State and Society (T & T Clark, London, 2005) which draws on resources from the Baptist tradition of Christianity to argue against the establishment of the Church of England and for alternatives that are neither a defense of a 'one dimensional' Christendom inheritance nor the adoption of a secularist disestablishment.

  • Ruth Woodhall is a graduate of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. She has worked at Queen Mary College, University of London and for the University of Cambridge Local Examinations Syndicate. She is a teacher, teacher-trainer and editor with a particular interest in the implementation of change and innovation in education. She has worked in a number of the schools inspired by Gülen in teaching, teacher education and management roles for a period of years. She has also worked for several years as an editor in the publishing sector in Turkey. She is currently publishing coordinator for the Isik Publications and the Light Inc.

  • Y. Alp Aslandogan, is an author, an editorial board member of The Fountain magazine and a faculty member at Prairie View, A&M University. He was previously a faculty member at the University of Texas at Arlington. He started his publishing life by translating and compiling articles of scientific nature for a popular scientific/spiritual magazine in Turkey in 1986. He later wrote for The Fountain magazine and has served as an editorial board member for the past seven years. He has published articles and given seminars on many topics, including the relationship of science and religion, spirituality and time management, the spiritual dimension of Islam, a comparative analysis of theories of learning and the prophetic tradition, and common cultural values among the world's major religions. His recent presentations include "Science and Religion: Between Friction and Harmony", "Questions of Lifestyle: How Conflict Ownership is Spread", "Sufism - Tasawwuf as the Spiritual Dimension of Islam", and "Diversity, Tolerance, Dialogue and Ramadan".

  • Muhammed Çetin is a Visiting Scholar at the Religious Studies Department of the University of Houston. He was a Visiting Scholar at the Sociology Department of UT Austin from 2003-2004. He is currently a PhD candidate in Sociology at School of Education, Human Sciences and Law of the University of Derby, UK. He received his master's degree from the Education Department of the University of Leicester and Diplomas in Social Sciences and ELT and a bachelor's degree in English language and literature from the University of Ankara. He has worked as lecturer, Vice-Rector and Ministerial Adviser in Turkmenistan. Cetin was a co-founder and editor of The Fountain magazine, and served as editor, translator, and contributor. He is the President of the Institute of Interfaith Dialog and has served as organizer and speaker for Interfaith Dialogue and Tolerance Conferences and cultural activities held at universities and other institutions. He is the author and producer of Rumi and Universal Love, Tolerance and Dialogue and The Adhan: Call to prayer DVD documentaries.

  • Jon Cantrell was born in Southern California in 1953 where he completed Chino High School in 1971. He enlisted in the United States Marine Corp in 1972 and was honorably discharged in 1976. He is a Vietnam era veteran and feels very fortunate never to have been in combat. He worked as an electronics technician for 26 years in Houston and Austin, Texas, before moving to Oklahoma City in 2000. He is currently enrolled in his final semester at Oklahoma City University as a Religion and Philosophy major and plans on beginning graduate work next fall. He serves on the Advisory Board of the Growing Open Oklahoma Dialogue in Science, Technology, And Religion (GOOD STAR) at Oklahoma City University whose aim is to foster dialogue characterized by fairness, humility, and intellectual rigor among the communities of science, technology, and religion in Oklahoma. He is a member of Theta Alpha Kappa, the national religion honor society, and organized the first Oklahoma chapter of Veterans for Peace, a non-profit educational and humanitarian organization dedicated to the abolition of war, and currently serves as president of that group.

  • Theresa A. Vaughan received her Ph.D. in Folklore and Anthropology from Indiana University in 1999. She is currently Associate Professor of Humanities and Philosophy at the University of Central Oklahoma, where she contributes classes to the Religious Studies minor. Her research interests include religious and cultural identity expressed in traditional and folk arts.

  • Ian G. Williams is Senior Lecturer and Subject Leader in Religious Education, University of Central England (UCE), Faculty of Education, Birmingham. Before UCE, he lectured in Religious Studies at the Universities of Chester, and Derby UK. He has taught and researched in the Middle East and India and studied Theology and Religious Studies at King's College, London, followed by postgraduate study at the Universities of Nottingham, and Derby. Prior to academic teaching he served in Church of England Parish ministry and theological colleges. Currently, he is continuing to research the Gülen Movement and Turkish Islam, sacred violence and martyrdom in contemporary Islam, and Sufi movements in the UK. He is the coordinator of the TDA Ethnic Minority Teacher Recruitment Project at UCE. His PhD thesis will be published later this year.

  • Emre Çelik migrated to Sydney, Australia from Turkey with his family when he was one. He has a degree in Computer Engineering and a Masters Degree in Teaching. He has been involved in educational and interfaith projects in Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne since the early 1990s. He was on the executive committee that established the first private college founded by the Australian Turkish community. He has served as the Secretary of one of Australia's largest mosques - the Auburn Gallipoli Mosque in Sydney. He has been a Religious Studies teacher in Sydney and Melbourne. He was involved in the establishment of two education centres in Melbourne and Sydney. He was General Coordinator of the Queensland Education and Cultural Foundation while in Brisbane. Recently he has been involved in two ground-breaking projects called "Building Bridges" and "Embracing Youth", both sponsored by the Australian government's Living in Harmony Initiative. Currently he is the General Coordinator of the Australian Intercultural Society which is a community-based NGO in Melbourne. He has a keen interest in interfaith dialogue and its importance to the community. He hopes to complete his doctorate in this area.

  • Ted Dotts is a retired United Methodist clergyman who served forty-four years in appointments to ministries of local church, judicatory official, medical ethicist, and hospital administrator. Presently, he is a consultant to the Covenant Health System, Lubbock, Texas. He taught for twenty-eight years in the Course of Study School at the Perkins School of Theology at SMU. For twelve years, he was an instructor in medical ethics at the School of Medicine, Texas Tech University. He currently serves on the Board of Trustees for Southwestern University and the Board of Trustees of the Lubbock Methodist Hospital System Board. He is married to Betty Shewbert Dotts, a musician and community activist.

  • Michael J. Fontenot is a history professor at Southern University at Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He received a Ph.D. from Louisiana State University in 1976, in Russian and European history with a concentration on socialist thought. Benefiting from a number of major grants and fellowships-including four National Endowment for the Humanities fellowships, two Fulbright-Hays awards, and two East-West Center grants-he has come to favor interdisciplinary approaches and has looked for new understandings at the intersections of academic fields. Generally, his research focus has been upon episodes or movements of significant change. Accordingly, his articles and conference papers have dealt with transitional issues such as the collapse of the Tsarist Regime, the migration of theories of knowledge across cultures, the disintegration of the USSR, the formation of the Society of Jesus, and the theory of Biological Emergence. His most recent work has involved Sufi modes of adaptation, both to intercultural contexts and to modernity.

  • Karen Fontenot is professor of communication and head of the Department of Communication at Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond, Louisiana. Before entering academia she worked as a newspaper reporter and magazine editor. She received her Ph.D. in Communication Studies from Louisiana State University in 1993. Her areas of expertise are cross-cultural communication, organizational communication, and interpersonal communication. She has published widely in these areas, and is the author or co-author of over fifty articles and conference papers. She is interested in the impact and influence culture has on human behavior, especially in the interpersonal context. Some of her most recent research involves cultural adaptation and religion, especially comparative analyses of Jesuits and Sufis.

  • Dogan Koc is a co-founder of the Institute of Interfaith Dialog, and currently serves as the secretary of the institute. He received his B.S. degree in chemistry at Marmara University, Istanbul. He completed a M.A. degree in education, and finishing a second M.A. degree in sociology at University of Houston. He has served as state representative for the Institute of Interfaith Dialog in the states of Kansas, Louisiana, and Texas. Mr. Koc has served as organizer and speaker at dialog, interfaith and cultural activities held at universities and other institutions.

  • Jill Irvine was formerly a faculty member of the Political Science Department and rejoined the University of Oklahoma in 2005. She teaches courses on Religion and Violence; Religion, Nationalism and Ethnic Conflict; Women and World Politics; Women, Religion and Secularism; and Feminist Theory. She is the author of The Croat Question: Partisan Politics and the Formation of the Yugoslav Socialist State (1995) and co-editor of State-Society Relations in Yugoslavia, 1945-1991 (1997). She has published articles in East European Politics and Societies, Problems of Postcommunism and Politik and contributed chapters to The Extreme Right in Western and Eastern Europe (1995), Women in the Politics of Post¬communist Eastern Europe (1999) and The Dissolution of Yugoslavia (2005). Her research interests focus on gender, democratization and ethno-religious conflicts worldwide.

  • Guinn Blackwell-Eagleson is the Executive Director of United Campus Ministry of Greater Houston and has served as a Presbyterian Minister of Word and Sacrament in the Houston area for 23 years. She has served as pastor of the La Marque Presbyterian Church, as pastor and head of staff of the Central Presbyterian Church of Houston, as interim associate pastor at Webster Presbyterian Church, and now is coordinating outreach to students in several Houston area college campuses. She graduated with highest honors from the University of Texas, before attending Princeton Theological Seminary, where she earned a Master of Divinity degree. After pursuing liturgical studies at the University of Notre Dame, she was awarded the Doctor of Ministry degree from the Graduate Theological Foundation of Indiana in 1993. In 1983, she was the first woman to be installed as a Presbyterian pastor in New Covenant Presbytery. In 1987, she was the first clergywoman to serve as her presbytery's moderator. In 1991, she was a commissioner to the Presbyterian Church USA General Assembly in Baltimore, and chaired the Assembly Committee on Church Orders and Ministry. She currently chairs the Examinations Committee of the Presbytery of New Covenant and serves on its Permanent Judicial Commission.

  • Sheryl L. Santos is Dean of the College of Education, TTU Lubbock. She received undergraduate and Masters Degrees in Spanish from Queens College, NY, and her Ph.D. from Kansas State University in Curriculum and Instruction, with a specialization in bilingual education. She is an energetic advocate for high quality public education. She is the author of numerous publications and professional presentations in the field of language minority education. Prior to becoming a teacher educator and university administrator, she was a classroom teacher with rich experiences in urban and rural settings. She is a former Fulbright Senior Scholar, an American Council on Education Fellow, and a recipient of the New York Board of Regents Management and Professional Development Fellowship. For several years she was an escort-interpreter on special assignment for the U.S. Department of State. Prior to Lubbock, she was Dean and Professor of the School of Education at California State University, Bakersfield. Previous to that, she was a tenured faculty member and Director of the Division of Curriculum and Instruction in the College of Education at Arizona State University, Tempe. Her first years as a university faculty member were at East Texas State University (now Texas A&M, Commerce).

  • George M. Atkinson received his Ph.D. in theology at S.M.U. in 1975. He has served as the associate director, Global Theological Education at Perkins School of Theology, 2004-2005, and as the director at Houston-Galveston Program, Perkins School of Theology between 1996 and 2004. He is the author of Outler on the Holy Spirit: The Pneumatology of Albert Cook Outler. Dr. Atkinson has served as organizer and speaker in many conferences in the field of religion and dialogue.

  • Allen Hertzke, an internationally recognized expert on religion and politics, is Professor of Political Science and Director of Religious Studies at the University of Oklahoma. He is author of several books, including REPRESENTING GOD IN WASHINGTON, an award-winning analysis of religious lobbies, which has been issued in Chinese language translation; ECHOES OF DISCONTENT (1993), an account of church-rooted populist movements; and co-author of RELIGION AND POLITICS IN AMERICA, a comprehensive text on faith and politics now in its third edition. His most recent book is FREEING GOD'S CHILDREN: THE UNLIKELY ALLIANCE FOR GLOBAL HUMAN RIGHTS. A frequent news commentator, Hertzke has been featured in such outlets as The New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Time Magazine, The New Republic, USA Today, Weekly Standard, L.A. Times, National Review, BBC World Service, PBS, National Public Radio, and Swedish Radio. A winner of numerous teaching awards, Dr. Hertzke has lectured at the National Press Club, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, the Council on Foreign Relations, and before numerous audiences in China.

  • Mark Webb received both his B.A. in philosophy and his two M.A. degrees, one in philosophy and the other in Classical Humanities, from Texas Tech and Ph.D. in Philosophy from Syracuse University in 1991. He specializes in epistemology and philosophy of religion. He is currently working in social epistemology, with a view toward understanding what epistemic norms are and how they work. Mark Webb's CV is available online. Professor Webb's articles have appeared in The Journal of Philosophy, Pacific Philosophical Quarterly, Religious Studies, The International Journal for Philosophy of Religion, and Hypatia. His articles include: "Natural Theology and the Concept of Perfection in Descartes, Spinoza and Leibniz". Religious Studies. 1989; 25(4),459-475. "Trust, Tolerance, and the Concept of a Person". Public Affairs Quarterly. 1997; 11(4), 415-429. "Feminist Epistemology and the Extent of the Social". Hypatia. 1995; 10(3), 85-98.

  • Naci Bostanci is the head of the Public Relations and Promotion Department and Faculty of Communication at Gazi University Ankara. Dr. Bostanci has published several books and articles in leading Turkish journals.

  • Stephen C. Law is the Chairperson/Professor of Humanities and Philosophy at College of Liberal Arts, University of Central Oklahoma. He received his Ph.D. from Florida State University in 1986.
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