UE Ethics Lecture to Discuss Islam and Challenge of E Pluribus Unum


The University of Evansville’s ninth annual William R. Connolly Ethics Lecture is Monday, March 19. The event, which is free and open to the public, will start at 7:00 p.m. in Smythe Lecture Hall (Room 170), Schroeder School of Business Building. William Rory Dickson, assistant professor of Islamic religion and culture at the University of Winnipeg, is the guest lecturer. His topic will be “Islam and the Challenge of E Pluribus Unum.”

The Latin phrase E Pluribus Unum, or “Out of many, One,” was the de facto American motto from 1782 until 1956. Rooted in ancient Greek philosophy, the motto is based upon the Pythagorean ideal of friendship, wherein the love of the other unifies the friends as one. The motto’s profound social meaning is the possibility of a genuine unity forged across the borders of identity. Many observers argue that drawing together peoples of diverse religious, cultural, racial, economic, and ideological identities into a common solidarity remains the great challenge of America. This talk is premised on the question: what might Islam have to contribute to this perpetual and timely challenge? How might Islam’s rich intellectual tradition provide us with conceptual tools to navigate the contemporary social issue of making one out of many?

Dickson completed a joint-PhD in religious studies at Wilfrid Laurier University and the University of Waterloo, with a specialization in Islamic Studies. As a SSHRC Doctoral Fellow, he attended the University of Toronto and the University of Copenhagen’s Graduate Research School in Damascus, Syria. His research focuses on contemporary Islam in general, and Islamic mysticism (Sufism) in particular. His first book, Living Sufism in North America: Between Tradition and Transformation, explores the ways in which Sufi leaders in North America negotiate Sufisms to Islam, authority, and gender. Dickson is currently preparing a manuscript with Meena Sharify-Funk for an innovative introductory text on Sufism, while continuing a number of research projects on contemporary Islam. He has traveled throughout the Middle East, including Syria, Egypt, and Morocco.

This lecture series is sponsored by UE’s ethics program, Department of Philosophy and Religion.

For more information, contact Lisa Kretz, director of the ethics program at UE, at lk102@evansville.edu.


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