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GTU doctoral students Daekyung Jung, Therese Bjørnaas, and Henry Kuo (l-r) traveled to Kobe, Japan, to present at the 5th Asian Conference on Ethics, Religion, and Philosophy (ACERP) held March 31 - April 3, 2016. ACERP is a project of the International Academic Forum (IAFOR), founded in 2009 by scholars from Asia, Europe, and North America who were concerned by the parochial shape that academic reflections have taken, as well as the rigid disciplinary boundaries they often occupy. ACERP’s presenters and attendees come largely from East Asia, Southeast Asia, and Oceania, as well as expatriates living in those regions.
The three GTU students, all from the Theology and Ethics Department, addressed the conference theme of “justice” in ways that reflect the rigorous interdisciplinarity for which the GTU is known:
Daekyung Jung sought to construct a theoretical foundation for Christian social justice by placing Jürgen Moltmann and Edmund Husserl in conversation, arguing that a critical examination of the people’s sense of intersubjectivity will empower Christians to engage in solidarity with the weak and poor, and to resist evil.
Therese Bjørnaas brought Muslim-Christian dialogue and theological anthropology into conversation, drawing on the work of Karl Rahner and Muslim theologian Ismail Raji al-Faruqi to argue that Muslim-Christian dialogue can be rooted in a theological anthropology in which unity and diversity are inextricably connected.
Henry Kuo focused on business ethics, bringing the principle of double effect (commonly attributed to Thomas Aquinas) to bear on bankruptcy protection legislation. He locates the discussion of the principle within Aquinas’s understanding of justice, and then constructs a set of criteria under which a corporation can ethically file for bankruptcy protection when there are negative side effects that come from such an action.
Reflecting on the Kobe experience, Kuo commented, “It was refreshing to interact at a conference where Western-trained theologians living in Western contexts are a minority.” Recalling that Paul Tillich once said he felt he needed to rewrite his three-volume Systematic Theology after visiting Japan, Kuo noted: “I am not sure what Tillich saw on his trip to Japan, but I think I have a greater appreciation for being in a different Weltanschauung, a fact that may have really moved him.” The three GTU students expressed thanks to the GTU for its generous travel stipend, and encouraged other GTU students to participate in ACERP in the future.