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September 2006

Release Date: September 26, 2006

ASU Holland Symposium to Examine Religion, Political Extremism

Religion and politics, often two of the public's most emotionally charged issues, will be connected and explored by two noted scholars during the 2006 E. James Holland Symposium on American Values, Monday and Tuesday, Oct. 30-31, at Angelo State University.

Dr. Scott Appleby, professor of history at Notre Dame University, and Dr. Jeffrey Kaplan, associate professor of religion at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, will discuss the links between religion and political extremism in America and abroad, and the ongoing controversy over what role religion should play in civic life and the formation of personal values.

The two speakers will focus on the theme "Religion and Political Extremism in American Society" during public and classroom presentations. Appleby, whose research focuses on definitions of religious extremism and what ignites it, will give his lecture "Extremism: A Modern Mode of Religious Survival?" at 2 p.m. Oct. 30. Kaplan, author of Religious Resurgence and Political Violence, will speak on "Religious Extremists and Oppositional Subcultures in the Age of Globalization" at 2 p.m. Oct. 31.

Both scholars will also participate in a panel discussion on religious and political issues at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 31. The lectures and panel discussion are open free to the public in the C.J. Davidson Conference Center in the Houston Harte University Center at ASU.

The two-day symposium, sponsored by the Office of the Provost and Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs, is the central event in a broader program of related activities, including class visits by the featured presenters, a video production of the symposium itself and a creative contest with cash awards for students.

Appleby currently serves as the John M. Regan Jr. Director of the Joan B. Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at Notre Dame. From 1994-2002 he directed Notre Dame's Cushwa Center for the Study of American Catholicism. He is the author of Church and Age Unite! The Modernist Impulse in American Catholicism and The Ambivalence of the Sacred: Religion, Violence and Reconciliation. A University of Chicago Press series that he co-edited on global fundamentalisms won the American Academy of Religion's Award of Excellence in the Study of Religion.

Appleby also served as a consultant for the PBS film and NPR radio series on The Glory and the Power: The Fundamentalist Challenge to the Modern World and co-authored the companion book.

Kaplan teaches a variety of related courses at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, including American radicalism, terrorism and religious violence in global perspective and radical religion in America. Having lived in Bulgaria, Iran, Pakistan, Czechoslovakia, Sudan, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia and the West Bank, he brings a truly global experience and perspective to the topic of religion and political violence.

Kaplan has also authored 11 books and dozens of articles on related topics and has organized three international conferences. He serves on the editorial board of Terrorism and Political Violence, a journal that explores the political meaning and religious motivation of terrorism.

Since its inception, the symposium has brought more than 50 nationally prominent scholars, academicians and policy-makers to the ASU campus to discuss issues relevant to changes in American society. In 2003, the Texas State University System Board of Regents named the symposium in honor of Dr. E. James Holland, who served 34 years as dean of ASU's College of Liberal and Fine Arts until his 2003 retirement.

The symposium steering committee is chaired by Dr. William A. Montgomery and co-chair Dr. Kraig Schell, both of the psychology faculty. Committee members and their departments are Dr. Dennis Pate, history; Dr. Laurence "Casey" Jones, government; Dr. Kevin Lambert, dean, College of Liberal and Fine Arts; Dr. David Bixler, physics; Dr. John C. "Trey" Smith, mathematics; Dr. William McKinney, accounting, economics and finance; Dr. Nancy Allen, English; Dr. Tom Badgett, marketing; Dr. Charles Allen, physics; Dr. Kathleen Price, kinesiology; Dr. Chris Ellery, English; Ralph (Randy) Hall, art; Dr. John Glassford, government; Patricia Turner, communication; and Rick Greig of student involvement. Student members are Elizabeth Deming, Valene Marshall and Courtney Ray.

For more information, contact Dr. Bill Montgomery at 942-2068, Ext. 245.

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