SJU Hosts Conference on Politics, Society, and Culture

Friday, May 16, 2014

Exploring the ways that culture shapes politics and society, more than 200 scholars and students gathered at St. John’s University’s Manhattan campus on April 25–26 for the 68th annual conference of the New York State Political Science Association (NYSPSA).

Several St. John's faculty members and students presented their research at the two-day scholarly event, which focused on “Culture and the Future of Liberal Democracy.” William Byrne, Ph.D., associate professor of government and politics, chaired the event. “It’s a feather in our cap to host this venerable conference,” he said. “This reflects the world-class status of St. John’s—and the Department of Government and Politics.” St. John’s faculty, he noted, have a long history of providing leadership in the NYSPSA.

Delivering the keynote address, Claes Ryn, Ph.D., professor of politics at The Catholic University of America, discussed the moral and cultural preconditions necessary for peace in the 21st century. "Humanity faces no greater challenge in this century than averting conflict among peoples and civilizations," he said.

"People thinking about how to alleviate conflict must face a difficult reality,” Ryn added. “Even the most well-laid plans are forever threatened by every type of self-indulgence—partisan passion, arbitrariness, ruthlessness, cruelty, ignorance, short-sightedness and, always, the desire for power."

Ariyo Ojagamilia '14C presented on the topic of resolving violent conflicts in Africa. "It was a great opportunity to showcase my own, independent research and make it accessible to colleagues and faculty members from the state-wide academic community," he said.

Reylaura Michele Cantave '14G noted that one of her SJU professors encouraged her to present at the conference—her topic, human rights. "Participating in this event not only meant my voice is being heard,” she said, “but that I am helping promote positive change through my research."

"The conference was the first opportunity I had to present my research," observed Shantaur Williams '14G. "It gave me the opportunity to speak about an issue I am very passionate about—homelessness—and it exposed me to countless networking opportunities. Overall, it was a great experience."